Water is a vital resource

Okanagan Basin Water Board says a number of issues must be considered

They say the best defense is a good offense. The best protection against water shortages is to reduce water needs, and thereby increase our ability to meet future demands.

It’s like cutting expenses to make your paycheque go farther and create a buffer for emergencies.

Around the world, people are reducing their water consumption — indoors and out — and drought-proofing their communities in the process.

Living in an area with variable rainfall, like the Okanagan, means we may have two or three wet years in a row, followed by a string of dry years.

In his recent letter to the editor, Water Woes, Mr. van der Molen points to this year’s full reservoirs.

While we had a nice wet spring, Vernon?s record dry July and our ongoing water needs for gardens, industry, agriculture, and fish-spawning will draw down these reserves.

Some might recall that only a few years ago, the reservoirs supplying Greater Vernon were at less than 50 per cent capacity.  Water supplies go up and down like the stock market goes up and down. It makes sense to have systems, budgets and habits in place to be WaterWise and prepare for inevitable downturns in supply.

We commend the young woman in Vernon for inviting her neighbours to go golden with their lawns for the month of August.

Also, every litre that is treated and delivered to our taps requires substantial energy use and cost to get there.  Mr. van der Molen’s letter also inquired about the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s residential water use estimates for the valley.

We have been conducting a series of studies to evaluate current and future water needs. One study modelled the water needs of residential landscaping in the valley, based on actual maps of landscaped areas, and found that, combining indoor and outdoor use, the average resident uses 675 litres per day.

As this is a valley-wide average, it includes areas that are hotter and drier than Vernon, and areas that are not on water meters — both which increase water use.

We are always pleased to hear that residents like Mr. van der Molen are conserving water and have less than average demand on our shared systems.

Anna Warwick Sears,

Okanagan Basin Water Board

executive director