Water: time has come when we must think

Before anybody complains about not being able to powerwash their driveway whenever they want this summer, or it being suggested to them that they cut their shower by a couple of minutes, there are some things we should all ponder.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s new website NewNormalCowichan. ca tells us that British Columbians use an average of 353 litres of fresh water every day, almost 20 per cent more than the national average.

And that national average, according to the United Nations Development Program -Human Development Report 2006, is exceedingly generous when compared to what people consume in most countries in the world.

Canada’s not the worst, but we’re far from the best, either.

According to the report average water use in most European countries is about 200 to 300 litres per day. We’re a little higher, but roughly comparable. In the U.S. things are really dire with the average daily use per person hitting an astronomical 575 litres per day. Clearly California has a lot to work with in terms of trying to get people to trim their taps.

But even they were nothing compared to Phoenix Arizona, a desert city with, the report noted, some of the greenest lawns in the country, and a usage of an average 1,000 litres per day.

Feeling a bit virtuous? Consider that average use in Mozambique is less than 10 litres per day. Not that we’re suggesting this as a goal. It’s far from ideal. But…

Cutting your shower by just two minutes can save about 40 litres of water. To further put

this into perspective, note that the 2006 report concludes that the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund suggest a minimum fresh water requirement per person per day would be 20 litres. Factoring bathing and laundry that rises to 50 litres per day.

Now look at that 40 litre number for your two minutes of showering. It’s twice the bare minimum need per day and only slightly less than a more generous need assessment. Clearly we, too, can significantly cut our individual usage without significantly impacting our way of life.

Other recommendations on the CVRD website suggest merely finding out where we have leaks in our homes and fixing them.

To those who’ve lived with more limited water, such as using a well rather than a public water system, many of these tips are far from revolutionary – they’re already just life.

They need to become life for all of us. We are still extremely fortunate with our access to water. We can remain that way with just a few changes that, in the end, are really very small.

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