EDITORIAL: Turn on water taps with care

NANAIMO – More focus needs to be given to water conservation across the region.

As Nanaimo prepares to turn on the tap for Lantzville, more focus needs to be given to water conservation across both areas.

Presenters speaking in opposition to a water supply agreement between Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville at Monday’s city council meeting had some good points, including that new thinking around the water supply needs to occur.

Council later gave approval to finalize an agreement with the district that includes a 20-year renewable term, with Lantzville paying the full cost to connect to the system.

But encouraging less water usage by all is important, given the enormous price tag of building new dams.

Other issues include that much of Nanaimo’s watershed is owned by logging companies.

Paul Manly, who recently made a film that examines the state of public drinking watersheds on the Island, said that even though Lantzville has not grown much over the past decade due to access to water issues, the district’s council has not considered mandating that cisterns be built into the foundations of new homes.

Rainwater harvesting is already a focus for the Regional District of Nanaimo, which has an incentive program providing rebates to homeowners who invest in cisterns. The 40 rebates given out last year sold out within six months.

Manly also emphasized revenue should not be used as a factor in making decisions around the water supply.

Similarly, any water supply agreement should not be the catalyst for more development.

While connections to new developments would be limited to 50 units per year, 50 units is a major expansion for a town like Lantzville.

In its purest form, water should simply be accessible and conserved, and not used for ulterior motives like development or profit.