waterwiseWhat do you get when you combine unseasonably low snowpack levels, less than average rainfall, warmer than normal temperatures and an ever-increasing demand for water due to expanding population growth?

Level 4 drought conditions and the opportunity to think about the role we all play in managing the water supply.

Early in June, the B.C. government issued a statement urging all municipal, agricultural and industrial users on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii, then experiencing level 3 drought conditions, to reduce water consumption by 20% or more.

On July 3rd, 2015, a level 4 drought rating was issued for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Level 4 is the highest drought rating possible, and the first time it’s been issued since the province started declaring drought levels in 2010.

At about the same time, the Cowichan Valley Regional District launched their website The New Normal to encourage and support people to change their thinking about water usage. The website describes, “The new normal is water scarcity, not water abundance, and all actions must flow from this reality.”

A Few Fast Facts About Water Use in British Columbia

  • British Columbians have one of the highest per capita water use rates in the world.
  • The average British Columbian uses 353 litres of fresh water every day—that’s almost 20% more than the national average.
  • In the next 25 years the province’s population is expected to grow by 1.4 million people.
  • Less than 3% of municipally-treated water is actually used for drinking. The rest goes down the drain or toilet, or on our gardens.
  • The average garden hose pours out 20 litres a minute.
  • Toilets account for 30% of indoor water use.
  • Fixing a dripping tap can save up to 300 litres of drinking water per week.

Because we’re solution-oriented folks here at the PFLA, we’ve put together a list of 10 Water Conservation Tips Everyone Should Know About to help spread the word and conserve and protect the resource we all value and rely on.

10 Water Conservation Tips Everyone Should Know About

Water conservation doesn’t have to take a big effort to make a difference. Small adjustments every day can go a long way to reducing your overall consumption.

Saving water in the bathroom:

  1. Shortening your shower by 2 minutes can save about 40 litres of water.
  1. Using the toilet as a wastebasket is a bad idea. Every time you flush a tissue or other small bit of trash, you waste up to 14 liters of water.
  1. A water saving toilet can save the average family about 25, 000 litres of water per year.
  1. Turning off the water after you’ve wet your toothbrush can save 10 litres.

Saving water in the yard:

  1. Mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants to retain water in the soil. Adding compost to the soil also helps maintain soil moisture.
  1. Water your yard and garden in the early morning or late evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.
  1. Hand water or install a drip irrigation system so that water only goes to the areas that need it. Avoid watering paths, patios, or driveways.
  1. Consider a rainwater collection system (even a simple rainbarrel) to save water for the dry season.  Re-use water (e.g. old water from water jugs, pet dishes, kids pools) for watering plants rather than dumping it out.

Saving water in the kitchen:

  1. Keep a jug or pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running your tap water until it gets cold.
  1. While you wait for the hot water to get hot, catch the flow in a watering can to use later on houseplants or your garden.

These are just few water conservation ideas to start with we gleaned from the CVRD’s drought smart page along with the BC government’s Living Water Smart website.

You can visit the CVRD’s drought smart website for a bunch of other excellent water conservation tips and strategies. Check out the BC government’s Living Water Smart website for more information on drought conditions in the province.

Please contact your local municipality for water restrictions in your area.

There’s also this handy infographic from the city of Chico, California illustrating What Does a 20% Reduction in Water Use Look Like.