“Water that is ‘saved’, where is it saved? Is it in a tank for us to use later? No, it’s not. It’s just not used.” –Courtenay Councillor Jon Ambler
So have we been getting it wrong all along? Is it true that water saved is wasted by not being put to good use? And if so, then in areas where water resources are abundant, does it make sense to reduce demand?
The truth is I’m not sure what to make of the statements of Courtenay, British Columbia, Council member Jon Amber, who also happens to sit on the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) water committee. Some of his other eyebrow-raisers, courtesy of HQComoxValley.com, are:
* “It rains 200 days per year here. We’re not short of water . . . so this whole notion of water restrictions needs to be examined, because I think we’re going down the wrong road here.”
* “We buy our water from BC Hydro, and it comes down a big pipe from the lake and feeds into a hydro-electricity dam. Of 100 gallons that comes down the pipe, less than one gallon is for the Comox Valley people who use it. So if we went to zero water use, turned the tap off completely, BC Hydro would barely notice, so we’re not short of water in any respect.”
* “Should it be wasted? Of course not. But when I buy water, like when I buy gasoline or when I buy potatoes, I’m allowed to do with them what I want. I can boil them, I can fry them, I can drive on Tuesdays, I can drive fast on Tuesdays, or not at all. When you put on a water restriction and say you can only water your lawn on Tuesdays and Thursdays, guess what? There’s a spike in water use on Tuesdays and Thursdays, yet it was the spikes in water use that people were trying to avoid.”
A little background for context. . . .
The Comox Valley Regional District—“a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities”—is located in British Columbia, Canada. During a recent election cycle, according to Amber, water conservation and efficiency became a campaign issue. “Kind of a mythology has been created that we’re short of water,” Ambler is quoted as saying. He goes on to blame political overreaching. He points out that the City of Courtenay is the largest consumer of water in the area, and so it should have the largest vote in how local water resources are managed. But Ambler believes these decisions are being made at the expense of other communities, like Comox.
“If you increase Courtenay’s vote and the areas A, B, and C can’t have less than one vote, it has to come at the expense of Comox,” explains Ambler. “That’s patently unfair. Absurd. It wouldn’t work.”
So what do you think? Does Ambler have a point about conservation for conservation’s sake? Is it enough to ask consumers to install low-flow fixtures and turn off their faucets, or should we also explain the reasoning behind better water resource management? And can water be compartmentalized and treated like any other commodity, or are there are issues and ramifications in play?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
March 8th, 2012
Reducing Energy, Water, and Tax Bills for Facilities
Are you overpaying on your facility’s three largest variable costs: energy, water, and taxes? Join Fraser Allport, CEO, to explore how to reduce your facility’s utility and tax bills and future-proof for sustained performance by combing green technologies (green hardware and smart software) with government tax incentives in a cost-reduction action plan designed to obtain, quantifiable and sustainable resource and cost-savings results. Read more…
March 15th, 2012
for Surface Water Quality
Constantly influenced by natural eutrophication, direct human impact, and a changing climate, surface water is a scarce natural resource needing effective protection. Join Shahram (Shane) Missaghi to explore the function and benefits of BMPs in protecting surface water, and examine three key criteria to insure their successful implementation: water, soil, and climate Read more...
March 22nd, 2012
5 Proven Social Media Tactics to Engage Your Audience
Extend your outreach and campaign effectiveness with social media. Join Erica Hooper, Strategic Director at S. Groner Associates, to explore social media's (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) opportunities, myths, and real-world tested and proven social media tactics designed to engage your audience. Read more…