Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Metro Vancouver’s water conservation efforts a success story. More work needed.

One of the success stories of our region has been our efforts to converse water. The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released a report on water utilization in our region going back until 1985.

Back in 1985, Metro Vancouver had about half the population as today, but a similar amount of water being utilized as shown in the following graph.

Water use by sector, trends from 1985 to 2017. *Years when not all local government water consumption data was available. Source: Metro Vancouver.

Per capita per day of water used has been steadily declining. Today, 486 litres per person per day of water is used in Metro Vancouver. Even with the reduction of per capita water usage, overall water usage is starting to climb again due to population growth.

Breakdown of water use by sector in 2017. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

58% of water utilized in our region is for residential use. This means that there is still significant opportunities for people to make a big difference in our water conservation efforts.

Switching out shower heads, toilets, faucets, washing machines, and dishwashers with low-flow models can significantly reduce your water usage. BC Hydro even offers some rebates for shower heads and faucet aerators.

Of course, fixing leaks and drips also goes a long way to help conserve water.

One of the best ways to conserve water is to not water your lawn. This is something that can even be done if you live in a strata.

I grew up in the Okanagan where water conservation during the summer is critical. Golden lawns were OK. Many people replaced grass lawns with other plantings and landscaping that looked good and needed less water to maintain.

For a more local example, our strata doesn’t water our grass. During the winter and spring, the grass is green. During the summer, it turns golden. The strata building across the street waters their grass. I do not believe people who live in that other building have a better quality of live compared to people who live in my building due to grass watering.

Langley Environmental Partners Society has a good guide on water-wise gardening.

People who live in Metro Vancouver have done a good job conserving water, but as our population continues to grow and climate change causes drier summers, we will need to step up our game.

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