COLUMN: Water is a valuable resource

Any program that encourages a reduction in its use is well worth supporting.

Water conservation should be a fundamental objective of any government and community, no matter where the water comes from.

While B.C. generally has an abundance of water, due to our regular rainy season and lots of snow in the mountains, last year was an exception. Water levels in reservoirs were low and there were lengthy restrictions on water use during the spring, summer and fall months.

A delegation to White Rock council reinforced the importance of water conservation last week. Marilyn McArthur said her Beachview Avenue triplex will be charged for using a minimum 12,000 cubic feet of water per quarter, even though the water actually used by the residents is just one-third of that amount.

While she is concerned about the extra cost, she told councillors that the most important thing is water conservation.

“The important thing, I think, is not the fee. It’s the fact that we’re wasting water and people are being overcharged for the water they are using,” she said. “If you’re going to charge me for 12,000 cubic feet, I might let my taps run all day long. There’s no incentive to conserve water.”

White Rock city manager Dan Bottrill said the city’s billing program is based closely on what the former owner of the water utility, Epcor, had in place. He agreed that McArthur made a valid point, and said city staff will explore possible options. He also said a different billing system may be possible in the future when the city knows more about water consumption patterns.

White Rock gets its water from its own wells, but there is no guarantee that there will be an unlimited supply of water – particularly if the city continues to densify. While there is no reason White Rock could not hook up to the Metro Vancouver supply to back up its wells or even to eventually supplant them, that would remove the level of control that the city now has over water. It only bought the water utility last year, and has yet to reveal the price it paid to Epcor.

Surrey and Delta, meanwhile, get their water from Metro Vancouver. It has spent billions over the past several decades to upgrade and improve the water supply, but it does ultimately depend on the snowpack and rainfall. Last year’s excessively dry conditions showed that the water supply is finite.

Surrey requires water meters to be installed at all new residences and has encouraged other water users to get meters – something that many people have done, as it is often cheaper to pay for the water you actually use rather than a flat fee.

Delta also has a voluntary water metering system for detached houses (not duplexes or strata units). Its website points out that “An average residential household of three to four people consumes approximately 340 to 400 cubic meters of water annually. That is equivalent to 308 litres of water per person per day.”

There are many opportunities to save water. Any program that encourages a reduction in water use is well worth supporting, and other programs that encourage less use of water – particularly in the summer months – may be worth considering.

McArthur’s comments to White Rock council are a timely reminder to use water wisely and sparingly. We are fortunate to have a supply of clean water literally at our fingertips. Let’s use it appropriately.

Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for The Leader.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures, including another at Panorama Ridge

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read