After several years of concerted efforts to reduce water consumption, 26 participating Water Communities in the Columbia Basin have made tremendous gains and were successful in reducing overall water use across the board.
“Columbia Basin communities have worked hard and have been recognized as emerging leaders in water conservation,” said Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust water and environment manager, in a press release. “Their collective accomplishments are significant, and could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of each participating community. I offer my congratulations for being leaders in water conservation and working together to conserve our water resources.”
Locally, Edgewater, Golden, Radium Hot Springs and Invermere all participated in the program, having started at various points since the program’s inception in 2010 as part of the Columbia Basin Water Smart Charter. The program was launched in efforts to reduce water consumption through Water Smart training in addition to creating better metering systems that inform citizens how much water they are consuming.
From 2013 when Invermere joined the program to 2015, the community was able to reduce water consumption by 21 per cent, which is well above the 11 per cent decrease in gross water consumption averaged by participating communities in the Water Smart program. The major contributors to Invermere’s success thus far have been universal metering of water in addition to the district’s major improvements to monitor gross water supply on a regular basis.
In the case of the Village of Radium of Hot Springs, the program was less successful. From 2012 to 2015, the Village’s gross and per capita demand increased by 21 per cent largely in part from a significant spike in irrigation in the summer of 2015. With Radium Hot Springs, the water demand appears to be largely inconsistent and difficult to predict due to the amount of seasonal visitors the Village has in summer months in comparison to the winter.
Across the board, communities conserved their water mainly through reducing leaks in their water distribution systems and through assisting residents irrigate their lawns and gardens more efficiently during the summer.
Although the Water Smart program is coming to a planned end, community water conservation remains an integral goal for Water Smart Communities and will be part of the Trust’s new Climate Action Program that will be launched in early 2017, Mr. Hicks said.