Water use in the Cowichan Valley has gone down, with Cowichan Bay leading the pack in 2016. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Water use in the Cowichan Valley has gone down, with Cowichan Bay leading the pack in 2016. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Residents throughout the Cowichan region have successfully reduced their water use in 2016

Cowichan Bay leads the pack, reducing its water use by 31 per cent last year

Cowichan Bay residents were the most water wise in the region in 2016.

People in Cowichan Bay have reduced their water use by a whopping 31 per cent, a noteworthy achievement since the Cowichan Watershed Board and local governments issued the Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge in 2014.

The Challenge is a four-year initiative that was launched in response to severe summer droughts in the region in recent years. The idea is to track and reduce daily residential water use by an average of 20 per cent.

At 211 litres per person per day, Cowichan Bay residents also used the least amount of water on a per capita basis in the region in 2016, and the CWB indicated this might be in part because higher housing density in that area means fewer lawns to water.

“We believe the success comes from a variety of sources including strict sprinkling regulations, water toll rates designed to charge higher rates for high-volume users, and public education surrounding water conservation and leak detection,” said Cowichan Bay Waterworks District administrator Donna Monteith.

“Our residents understand the need to protect our most valued resource and have embraced the challenge to reduce water consumption.”

Residents in the Municipality of North Cowichan were the next best water conservationists in the region, with a reduction of 17 per cent in 2016, followed by the Cowichan Valley Regional District at 14.4 per cent.

Mill Bay recorded a small 2.6 per cent decrease in water use last year, followed by Ladysmith at 2.5 per cent, and statistics were not available for Duncan or Lake Cowichan.

But, despite the encouraging decrease in water use in 2016, the Cowichan region was still using more than its fair share.

According to the latest Canadian statistics on municipal water systems, average residential water consumption was 251 litres per person each day, which is among the highest rates in the world.

While decreasing over the years, the average use in the Cowichan region last year was 262 litres per person.

The highest water use in the region in 2016 was in the CVRD, which used 342 litres per person, followed by Ladysmith at 268, North Cowichan at 245, Mill bay at 243 and Cowichan Bay at 211.

“We must continue to develop a culture of conservation when it comes to water, to do our best to protect this precious resource moving forward,” said CVRD chairman Jon Lefebure.

The CWB has some suggestions to help residents conserve water as the Challenge continues into its third year.

They include letting your lawn go brown for the summer, using captured rainwater instead of tap water and installing efficient micro-drip water systems in homes and businesses.