Residents of Cowichan Bay have dropped their annual residential water use by a whopping 27 per cent since 2013.
The community leads the pack for water conservation in the Valley, with each of its residents using an average of 223 litres of water per day in 2017 compared to 307 litres a day in 2013, according to the latest data from the Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge
Ladysmith has seen its water consumption reduced by 18 per cent since 2013, with each resident using just 189 litres per person in 2017, down from 231 litres in 2013.
The Canadian average is currently 251 litres per day per person.
As part of the water conservation initiatives by the United Nations, the seven major residential water systems in the region agreed years ago to participate in the Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge.
The challenge is engaging the water systems in a collective race to reduce water consumption by 20 per cent in five years, from 2014 to 2018.
Launched in 2014 as a collaboration of local governments responding to an extreme drought, the challenge engages residents from across the region in a collective race to learn how to stretch water budgets to meet the needs of the future.
The Water Challenge was inspired, in part, by the great success in Ladysmith with water conservation at the time.
Between 2002 and 2013, Ladysmith reduced its total water use by 25 per cent, while the population grew by 20 per cent.
The water systems in the Valley began to encourage water conservation through mechanisms like tiered water pricing, installing water meters, and water conservation bylaws to control skyrocketing summer water demand.
They also agreed to track water use and report it annually to allow the Challenge to monitor progress, and try to learn what is working.
But just four of the water providers — North Cowichan, Mill Bay, Cowichan Bay and Ladysmith — provided statistics for 2017.
Statistics were not available from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Duncan or Lake Cowichan.
North Cowichan and Mill Bay each reported that their water use since 2013 is down just four per cent, with North Cowichan residents using 283 litres of water per day in 2017 compared to 296 litres in 2013, and Mill Bay residents saw their usage drop from 249 litres in 2013 to 240 in 2017.
“Concerns remain that given future climate and population growth forecasts, we need to do more to use less,” said David Slade, founder of the Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge.
“The Cowichan Watershed Board would like to applaud our most water-wise residents for leading the way to a sustainable future.”