Diana Walker

Diana Walker

Nanaimo gardener on conservation mission

NANAIMO – City, regional district and gardeners point out ways to conserve water.

It’s hard to imagine water usage rising when a regional district implements the most severe water restrictions in memory.

But that’s what happened in mid-June in Nanoose where water use rose 11 per cent for two weeks.

Julie Pisani, Regional District of Nanaimo drinking water and watershed protection program coordinator, said the rise could be due to residents soaking gardens for entire times permitted.

“That’s the time you can water within, but it doesn’t mean you need to use that whole window,” Pisani said.

A sprinkler head uses up to 11 litres per minute, so the regional district and the city advise letting lawns turn golden.

“Veggies and shrubs and flowers – stick within the restrictions and that’s OK, but lawns? A little bit frivolous,” Pisani said.

Diana Walker, a master gardener with the Nanaimo Horticultural Society, makes conservation her mission.

“My garden means a lot to me and that’s where my bath water goes,” Walker said. “Anything I can save goes outside.”

Walker recommends getting rid of lawns. Plant shrubs, vines and perennials and use gravel and wood chips to suppress weeds and keep soil damp.

Walker collects rainwater, dishwater, cooking water, bath water and even the cool water from her hot water taps before it runs hot. She limits toilet flushing, turns off the taps while brushing her teeth and doesn’t run water continually while showering. She also recommends drip irrigation systems for watering trees.

Landscaping with native plant species saves, too. Nanaimo Area Land Trust Society’s native plant nursery on Frost Road, south of Nanaimo, offers plenty of drought-resistant varieties.

The regional district provides water-saving programs such as Team Water Smart, which offers free home audits that track down irrigation system leaks and point out ways to curb consumption indoors and outdoors, plus free workshops, community events, online tips and links to resources.

The regional district also offers rebate programs for water-efficient appliances and rain water harvesting systems. A pilot program requires new residential construction above the Yellow Point aquifer to install rain collection systems.