Want to conserve water? New website full of ideas

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has launched a new website to help residents adjust to the new normal.

What’s the new normal? Cycles of drought and flooding that are putting Cowichan’s watersheds and community water supplies under "extreme stress," said Kate Miller, the CVRD’s manager of environmental initiatives in a press release.

NewNormalCowichan.ca aims to tell Valley residents about things they can do to help minimize the impacts of these more extreme weather cycles.

"Gone are the days when we could expect some significant rainfall in the drier months leading up to summer and trust that our a quifers and lakes would be adequately supplied with water, "said Board Chair Jon Lefebure. "The summer dry season has extende don both ends and we can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliablerain to keep our water shed shealthy.

This New Normal Cowichan website is meant to give every one a clear picture of what ‘li ving the ne w nor mal’ looks lik e. " This year, rivers are already at levels that they typically don’t hit until the end of August. Earlier this week low flow advisories were issued for the Cowichan, Koksilah and Chemainus rivers by the provincial River Forecast Centre.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District also consolidated water restrictions from all of the jurisdictions in the Valley into one set, now at Stage 2, curtailing residential water use. The new website has lots of information including options to get email updates, track current conditions (including storage levels, regional water usage and fire risk) and offers background information about how the current water conditions have come about.

Most importantly, the site offers tips for homes, businesses and agricultural operations to save water.

For homes, people can learn about how to find out where in their homes and yards they are wasting water through things like leaky toilets and showerheads.

There are also practical tips like shortening your shower by two minutes, which saves 40 litres of water; turning off your tap after wetting your toothbrush, which can save 10 litres of water; washing dishes by hand or scraping dishes rather than rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher which should only be run when it is full; and using a pan of water to clean vegetables or fruit instead of leaving the tap running.

In the yard, people can let their lawn go dormant (brown); leave grass longer, thereby shading the roots and preventing evaporation; mulch around trees and shrubs to help keep in moisture; re-use

water from kids pools and pet dishes to water plants rather than dumping it; and sweep the driveway rather than using a hose or pressure washer.

There are plenty more tips, with some specific for businesses and agriculture, so check it out.

Everyone should be concerned, said Lefebure.

"The impacts of drought are broad and critical : fish populations and the integrity of our valuable eco system are threatened , public heal this sues are on the rise, our economic streng ths in forestry , pulp and paper , tourism and fishing are jeopardized, and ther isk of damage to people and proper ty due to forest fires is m uch higher , " he said. "Our region and each of us individually needs to adopt ne w ‘water smart’ management practices so we have enough to support our eco system and economy year – round. Ne wNormalCowichan . ca’smain message is that we all have a part to play in establishing a culture of water conservation. "

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