Editorial: Water and fire take centre stage as summer approaches

May has so far been exceptionally dry

Have you thought about summer water conservation yet?

We should conserve water all year as we can, of course, but it becomes all the more critical over the summer months as things dry out and rain can be hard to come by.

May has so far been exceptionally dry, and folks with gardens have likely already started doing some watering, if they have new plants to baby into adulthood.

Stage 1 water restrictions have come into effect, as they do automatically every year, but much is still permissable under this lowest of the restriction levels, including car washing and pool filling.

Into this atmosphere came the information recently, published in the Citizen last Friday, on just how various areas are doing in the Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge. Cowichan Bay came out as the top savers, having dropped their water consumption by 27 per cent by 2013. The usage leader is still Ladysmith, where folks use just 189 litres per person per day (Cowichan Bay 223 litres, North Cowichan 283 litres, Mill Bay 240 litres).

The message? There’s plenty of room for improvement. If you haven’t yet considered what you can do to conserve water, now’s the time to start.

And that’s just compared to our surrounding communities. Other places in the world use far, far less water than we do in Canada, and not just third world countries where water is scarce. We score far behind most European countries in terms of how much water we conserve.

On the other end of the spectrum, fire was also in the news last week. Burning bans came into effect for the Coastal Fire Centre area, in which the Cowichan Valley is located. This doesn’t yet include campfires, but we imagine that’s coming later in the season if the weather continues to be mostly rainless.

One doesn’t usually think about the threat of forest fires in May, but this year we have to.

It’s a good reminder, after a winter of wet weather, that we need to be careful when we get out into nature. Part of the reason for some of the devestating flooding happening further inland in B.C. right now is the fires they went through last summer and the changes in the landscape.

It only takes on small spark to create a big problem that can have far-reaching consequences you never intended or wanted.

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