After one of the coolest and wettest winters on record, it seems pointless to talk about water conservation. Why save water when massive snow and ice packs cover the local mountains, thereby guaranteeing a seemingly endless supply of H20?
No doubt, that is the philosophy of Campbell River’s citizens who have few qualms about running the tap to their hearts’ content. We are among the biggest consumers in the entire country.
According to Environment Canada, in 2004, the average Canadian daily domestic use of fresh water per capita was 329 litres. By contrast, in Campbell River last year, the average consumption for residential households was 496 litres per day.
That’s an obscene disparity and it’s unlikely to change without drastic measures.
To further complicate our insatiable desire to have the greenest lawns and most colourful gardens, water line breaks are slowly eroding the municipal budget to manage our water supply.
In our mild climate we get off pretty easy compared to the rest of the country where freezing temperatures cause countless line breaks. Here in Campbell River, the city expects no more than 28 breaks a year; last year there were 81 breaks in service, an indication of our aging infrastructure that needs replacing.
Replacing water lines is expensive and to further complicate the situation, ratepayers are billed approximately 36 cents a cubic metre, whereas it costs the city 59 cents to deliver that same cubic metre to your tap.
So, not only do we use the most water, but we are also under-billed for it and the costs will grow exponentially as the infrastructure ages.
What we can expect in the next few years are cost increases, the implementation of water meters and lengthier bans and restrictions on outdoor water use.
It’s time to turn down the tap.