Raising the lawnmower a few inches can go a long way to conserving water, says water conservation educator Luisa Richardson.
She will be hosting an open house for residents in the north part of Area D in the Strathcona Regional District this Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hagel Park to outline ways to cut back on water use.
“It’s really about being water-efficient as opposed to not using water at all,” she said.
There have been issues around the water utility in the north part of Area D for several years, both in terms of the cost of supply but also around use. Earlier this month, the SRD board adopted a bylaw to raise water rate for residents in the north part of the electoral area to cover costs of the utility. Residents in the south part are serviced by a different system run in conjunction with Black Creek of the Comox Valley Regional District.
“Right now, a lot of Northern Area D residents are concerned about recent increases to their annual water bill. We know that approximately 75 per cent (75%) of the Northern Area D Water System cost comes from the bulk purchase of water. If all residents commit to using less water, we could start to see the annual water bills decrease,” SRD Environmental Services Coordinator Jenny Brunn said in a news release.
The regional district and residents themselves are looking into an alternate source of water to that provided by the City of Campbell River. In the meantime, the open house is being held to encourage better use of the resource. The open house will include a certified irrigation specialist, among others, to help answer questions around water use, metering and water restrictions, which will be going to stage two at the beginning of July.
Richardson estimates 70 per cent of water consumption happens outdoors and as much as 80 to 90 per cent of this represents lawn irrigation.
“Lawn irrigation is what’s causing the extreme consumption in the summer time,” she told the Mirror. “It doubles and triples depending on the heat.”
She encourages people in the very least to raise their lawn mowers three inches to allow the grass to keep some of its green without having to water it excessively. By cutting it too short, people force the lawn to use more water.
“By cutting off the green part, you’re stressing the grass,” she said. “If you let it grow longer, the roots will grow longer.”
Richardson says lawns in this region can only absorb so much water. Another challenge surrounds the timing for automated sprinkers, as many people have their timers set too often and the result is overwatering. She estimates by watering three times a week using timers people are wasting 60 per cent of the water.
Her goal is to give people an idea of ways to help their lawn without resorting to constant watering at a time of year when the water supply might be stressed by dry spells.
“You don’t need to go brown, although it’s helpful,” she said. “You don’t need to go brown if you’re following certain steps to make sure you’re not wasting the water.”
There is also a dedicated hotline and email for the water conservation program at 250-203-1820 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents can ask questions, request more information and report excessive use.
SRD staff are also putting together a water demand management plan for Area D in conjunction with the education plan. They will be preparing of a report on universal water metering for the area and complete an audit of resources to make sure all residences are captured within the water system.