Local News                                                      Sunday June 6th 2010

Conservation is key


Water Water Isn't Everywhere

City Hall wants residents to put a stopper in water waste

Craig Hill/Voice 


Fishermen on the Vedder River. Voice file photo.


    It has been said that good planets are hard to find. Who can argue with that? Water stewardship and proper conservation methods are important issues that everyone needs to be aware of.


    In a press release last week, Minister of Environment, Barry Penner, said that despite the recent heavy rain across the province, which helped to ease the water supply concerns in many communities, reserves are still not up to par due to a lighter-than-usual snowpack last winter.


    Interior towns were rated at Drought Level 3 (very dry conditions) at the beginning of May then a late snow at higher elevations delayed the melt and extended the freshet season to mid-June. Depending on weather, local rivers are expected to reach peak levels by mid-month.


    The equinox is only two-weeks away Monday and this summer Chilliwack residents should be thinking about what they can do to conserve water. Low flow toilets and water efficient fixtures help, but to make the conservation picture complete, folks need to be conscious of how much water they use.


    In an effort to become more water-efficient, Chilliwack city officials have come up with a Water Conservation Strategy that combines several elements, all in an effort to reduce use of our precious resource by at least 20-per-cent this summer.


    According to a City Hall press release last week, Chilliwack uses on average approximately 30-million litres daily and the number peaks at 52-million litres during the summer months.


    "Residential water usage increases significantly during the summer months," said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. "Not only will abiding by the water restrictions help protect our water source, it can also save homeowners up to 30-per-cent on their metered water and sewer utility bill. For some users, that is up to $150!"


Water Restrictions

    Lawn watering restrictions are now in place and part of the city's Conservation Strategy includes lawn watering restrictions. As of June 1 sprinkling is only allowed from 5am to 8am or from 7pm to 10 pm. Residences with even-numbered addresses can water Wednesdays and Saturdays and those with odd-numbered addresses can do their watering Thursdays and Sundays.


Xeriscaping - Dry doesn't have to be dull


    Flower and vegetable gardens as well as shrubbery and trees are also exempt from the water restrictions which can be watered using a hose or a watering can. Drip irrigation systems are the most effective watering technique and also have no restrictions.


    Allowing your grass to grow longer during the summer will slow down the evaporation rate and as a result less water is needed. There are grass varieties that are tolerant to dry conditions. Dry doesn't have to be dull. There are many species of flowers available that use less water. Planting native species and low-water use varieties also help to reduce strain on the aquifer.


Clean Machines

    People like their cars clean and so washing them won't be included in the water restrictions. Car owners can use a bucket of soapy water and rinse off with a hose.


    However if you want to really conserve water, commercial car washes use on average of about 180 litres of water per car, whereas home washers typically use about 400 litres.


    Waterless wash products are a good idea and available now from many manufacturers, such as "Eco Touch." Many are nontoxic, biodegradable and petrochemical-free. Just spray on, wipe and buff gently with a clean towel, and voilà. Clean car.


Buckets of Rain

    Rain barrels are a good way to water plants around the home. The city engineering department is selling specially designed rain barrels to home owners at subsidized rates. The prices is $85 for the 365 litre barrel and $28 for the 208 litre one (not including taxes.) Home owners can pick one up from the Engineering Dept. downstairs at City Hall. There's a limit of one per household.


Conservation Kits

    Cost-recovery home conservation kits are available from the Engineering Department at City Hall for $14.26 plus taxes.


The package includes;

• Toilet bag which when installed reduces the volume of the tank and water used per flush.

• Leak detection tablets that will indicate a leak in the flapper valve inside the tank.

•  Drip gauge for measuring water leaking from faucets.

•  Flow Diverter that limits the amount of water used to rinse the toilet bowl.

• Shower gauge bag (doubles as a toilet tank bag) that measures the amount of water used by a standard shower head.

•  Low flow shower head that uses 2 GPM (gallons per minute) which are easily installed. Older shower heads use about 4-6 GPM.


Low Flow Flushers

    Did you know that in Australia, low flow toilets are mandatory? The city engineering department is offering a $50 rebate for homeowners who install the new ultra low flow toilets. Installing one of these can save the average household about 80-100 liters a day or 30,000 litres per year. Some companies also offer toilet conversions for around $75.


    Water is our future and everyone has a duty to conserve it.


Related links

    For more information on the topics above visit the city website here.

For more information on the low flow toilet rebate program visit the website here.


    Additional provincial information on the water supply outlook and snowpack data can be found here. Information on drought management is here.


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