City’s water conservation among the best

NANAIMO – Early results of an ongoing water-usage audit show city’s daily water consumption is below provincial and national levels.

Early results of an ongoing water-usage audit show Nanaimo’s daily water consumption is below provincial and national levels.

The $61,000 audit, by Kerr Wood Leidal and Associates of Burnaby, identifies water uses, consumption and potential leakage. It began in January and is expected to wrap up this summer.

The audit was one of the actions from the 2008 water conservation strategy, and the findings, once validated, go to council to update the current water strategy.

Bill Sims, city manager of water resources, said the consumption findings correct a misconception between total flow – the amount of water provided daily from the city’s water supply system – and the residential flow – the amount consumed at single-family dwellings on an average daily basis.

Nanaimo’s total flow is 530 litres per person per day. The residential flow is 296 litres per person per day.

Provincial averages of total and residential flow are 689 litres and 448 litres, respectively. Canada’s average is 591 litres and 327 litres, respectively.

“The city has always reported out the total flow, but Environment Canada puts out a report in residential consumption,” said Sims. “We wanted to refute the misconception that Nanaimo needs to get its water consumption down to the national level when in fact, we’re below Canada’s level.”

Despite the encouraging numbers, there is more work to be done.

Nanaimo’s current water supply infrastructure has the capacity to provide safe drinking water for 100,000 people. That population number is expected to be reached by 2020.

The city is considering its options, including a $60-million-plus dam in the Nanaimo River watershed or a sharing agreement with Harmac mill.

Sims said the idea behind water conservation is to continually improve.

“We’ve done a lot of the ‘big bang’ stuff for water conservation,” he said.

In the 1970s, the city was one of the first municipalities in the province with a user-pay metered water system.

“The rates that the users of the water pay fully reflect and account for the cost of running and expanding the system,” he said. “People really wake up when they see the true value of their water.”

The city also provides education regarding water conservation – a measure that is beginning to work, Sims said.

“I think the message is getting out and every day more people are starting to question how the system works,” he said. “They’re wondering if it’s necessary to have drinking-quality water to wash the car. Five or 10 years ago, people wouldn’t have thought twice about using the same water we drink to water our lawns.

“That all changes when people’s environmental consciousness wakes up.”

For more on the 2008 water strategy, please go to www.nanaimo.ca and enter the topic in the search field.

Early results of an ongoing water-usage audit show Nanaimo’s daily water consumption is below provincial and national levels.

The $61,000 audit, by Kerr Wood Leidal and Associates of Burnaby, identifies water uses, consumption and potential leakage. It began in January and is expected to wrap up this summer.

The audit was one of the actions from the 2008 water conservation strategy, and the findings, once validated, go to council to update the current water strategy.

Bill Sims, city manager of water resources, said the consumption findings correct a misconception between total flow – the amount of water provided daily from the city’s water supply system – and the residential flow – the amount consumed at single-family dwellings on an average daily basis.

Nanaimo’s total flow is 530 litres per person per day. The residential flow is 296 litres per person per day.

Provincial averages of total and residential flow are 689 litres and 448 litres, respectively. Canada’s average is 591 litres and 327 litres, respectively.

“The city has always reported out the total flow, but Environment Canada puts out a report in residential consumption,” said Sims. “We wanted to refute the misconception that Nanaimo needs to get its water consumption down to the national level when in fact, we’re below Canada’s level.”

Despite the encouraging numbers, there is more work to be done.

Nanaimo’s current water supply infrastructure has the capacity to provide safe drinking water for 100,000 people. That population number is expected to be reached by 2020.

The city is considering its options, including a $60-million-plus dam in the Nanaimo River watershed or a sharing agreement with Harmac mill.

Sims said the idea behind water conservation is to continually improve.

“We’ve done a lot of the ‘big bang’ stuff for water conservation,” he said.

In the 1970s, the city was one of the first municipalities in the province with a user-pay metered water system.

“The rates that the users of the water pay fully reflect and account for the cost of running and expanding the system,” he said. “People really wake up when they see the true value of their water.”

The city also provides education regarding water conservation – a measure that is beginning to work, Sims said.

“I think the message is getting out and every day more people are starting to question how the system works,” he said. “They’re wondering if it’s necessary to have drinking-quality water to wash the car. Five or 10 years ago, people wouldn’t have thought twice about using the same water we drink to water our lawns.

“That all changes when people’s environmental consciousness wakes up.”

For more on the 2008 water strategy, please go to www.nanaimo.ca and enter the topic in the search field.