To the Editor,
Re: Reduction in water use delays costly upgrades, Energy Solutions, June 30.
It is refreshing to discover that others share a vision; realizing that we can make a difference.
In the early 1990s District 69 – encompassing Qualicum, Parksville and the surrounding RDN communities – had become the fastest growing region in British Columbia.
The Town of Qualicum Beach realized this growth was placing an unprecedented strain on their infrastructure, particularly on their ability to provide the requirements for quality water.
As the community grew, the increased demands during peak periods drew more manganese and sulfur into the water as the aquifer replenished itself. At the same time, increased growth was placing a tremendous strain on the RDN sewage treatment plant.
After a great deal of research, it was decided to reduce the demand on water from the aquifer and thus the amount of water needlessly sent to the treatment plant for treatment.
To make this possible, the town provided water-saving devices free of charge including pop flushes, low-volume showerheads, faucet aerators, dye tablets and shower water measuring bags.
In order to distribute the devices it was felt that “win-win” situations could be realized by having volunteer groups distribute them and provide information and installation services in turn for donations to their projects.
The results were phenomenal and almost instantaneous.
The water supply and quality returned to normal, pumping costs and maintenance were reduced, the needless treatment of water not arriving for treatment was greatly reduced and the residents enjoyed reduced water supply and treatment costs in their services and taxes.
The program paid for itself in eight months.
As the savings became apparent, the municipality realized that by creating a bylaw requiring all new (1992-plus) construction (residential and commercial) to implement water-saving devices and in conjunction governing/reducing new growth they were able to reduce the need to hook up to the RDN water supply for several decades.
Bigger is not better. We can only grow as long as we have the ability to provide the infrastructure required at reasonable/sustainable rates.
Qualicum’s water conservation program was so successful because the municipality provided the tools, the education and ability for those groups and individuals to participate and help others reduce wastage, unneeded costs, as well as assist worthy non-profits to complete their projects.
former councillor Qualicum Beach