ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
The community of Chemainus reduced its water consumption by 25 per cent in 2015, declining use by approximately 650 litres per person each day.
In fact, overall residential water consumption went down last year in almost all the local water systems in the Cowichan Valley, which is likely due to the extreme drought that struck the region last summer and the water restrictions that went with it.
David Slade, chairman of the Cowichan Watershed Board’s water conservation working group, said he hopes the region is experiencing an improving “culture of conservation” in regards to water use as residents become more aware of its value.
He said the growing awareness of water conservation in the valley is timely as it coincides with the United Nation’s World Water Day, which was celebrated on March 22.
“People here really rose to the challenge of extreme drought and low water flows last summer, proving to ourselves that we can live with far less water,” Slade said. “While our water issues pale in comparison to those in California, we don’t know what the future will bring and we don’t know what our water sources will support. Conservation is an essential step on the path to sustainability.”
As part of the water conservation initiatives by the United Nations, almost all the water systems in the region agreed to participate in the Cowichan Water Challenge in 2015.
The challenge is engaging the water systems in a collective race to reduce water consumption by 20 per cent in four years, from 2014 to 2018.
Other than Chemainus, the other water systems in the area that achieved significant conservation savings in 2015 were the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Mill Bay and North Cowichan’s Crofton and South End systems, with each reducing water use by as much as 17 per cent.
The Water Challenge was inspired, in part, by the great success in Ladysmith with water conservation in recent years.
Between 2002 and 2013, Ladysmith reduced its total water use by 25 per cent, while the population grew by 20 per cent.