The District of Invermere is going to be a signatory on the Columbia Basin Trust’s WaterSmart Charter, after district council members voted in favour of doing so at their last council meeting.
WaterSmart representative Meredith Hamstead made a presentation on the program to Invermere’s council at council’s June 11th meeting, after which district staff looked into the potential benefits of joining the program.
“The WaterSmart program has changed significantly since its inception (several years ago),” said Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser at council’s August 13th meeting, adding the program used to be mostly about universal metering and, at that time, it made little sense for Invermere to jump into the program since the district was one of the few municipalities in the Kootenay region already making fairly extensive use of universal metering.
These days, the program has a much bigger focus, such as rate setting as well as leak detections, according to Mr. Prosser.
“The financial impact (to the district) is minimal in terms of signing onto the charter,” he said, but added that doing so comes with a commitment to reduce water use by 20 per cent, which could be difficult for the district since it already reduced its water use by 20 per cent about a decade ago.
“We also do have a lot of unallocated water in our metering,” said Mr. Prosser. He said some of the district’s public facilities were only recently fully metered, while a few others are not yet fully metered.
“We are not talking about turning off your tap when you are brushing your teeth,” Ms. Hamstead had said at the June 11th meeting. “It’s about extending the lifespan of the millions of dollars of water infrastructure managed by communities such as the District of Invermere (by reducing water use).”
Several communities in the basin have already adopted WaterSmart actions plans, with a wide range of results. Some communities have actually seen their water use increase, but most have seen it decrease, enough that the programs have saved a total of 4.2 billion litres of water across the basin, according to Ms. Hamstead.
She also said that across the Columbia River basin, an average of 40 per cent of municipal water is lost through leaks in water distribution systems and, in a few extreme cases, some communities’ municipal water loss is as high as 80 per cent.
“If there are not problems with water use, there’s often problems in the infrastructure,” said Ms. Hamstead at the June 11th meeting.
Most communities in the basin typically see their peak water use in July through August, owing to outdoor lawn irrigation, according to Ms. Hamstead.