COLUMN: Water is too precious to waste

Using water wisely should be something we do automatically, regardless of the time of year.

B.C. residents take water for granted, but as we have been discovering in this long, hot, never-ending summer, it is far more important that we realize.

Imposition by Metro Vancouver of Stage 3 water restrictions on Monday are a reminder of that. The restrictions, which ban any sprinkling, car washing at home and swimming pool refills, are the most severe that have been imposed in the area in the past 12 years.

Rainfall that usually comes in May, June and July has been minimal – less than 10 per cent of normal. A light snowpack has meant less water in rivers and reservoirs.

The usually-abundant supply of water in Metro Vancouver’s reservoirs is smaller than usual, and with no end to dry weather in sight, the restrictions are needed. Fishing in rivers and streams has already been almost completely cut off.

With all that being acknowledged, the municipalities that deliver Metro Vancouver water could do a better job of setting a good example. Many parks have been drenched with water on a regular basis this summer. I’ve been to several where there is mud in places because of the drenching they receive.

The Stage 3 restrictions theoretically prohibit municipalities from watering parks, but they always seem to find a way around those restrictions.

Some limited sprinkling of sports fields and school play areas is still allowed. In some cases, where there is newly-planted turf, it is understandable. However, that isn’t the case at most parks and it likely many will stay green all summer.

If citizens bother to complain, they are given a litany of excuses.

There is no need to water lawns or parks. Grass is quite able to withstand dry conditions – as we have seen many times in September, when the green grass returns quite miraculously after a few rains.

Plants do require water, but hand watering is sufficient if done frequently enough.

Of course, that’s harder to do on large properties. That’s where planting wisely comes in. Drought-resistant plants make the most sense.

As for car washing, commercial car washes are still operating and those desperate to wash their vehicles can go there.

Surrey and Delta have a lot of farms and people will see fields being watered in the coming days and weeks. This of course is to allow crops to grow.

Most farms in both municipalities have their own water systems, and most watering is done through water licences.

They are not drawing down the Metro Vancouver reservoirs, although some farms may find their wells going dry.

Some common sense about water usage can go a long way towards keeping the reservoirs as full as possible during this extended dry period. B.C. is a long way from having California-style drought, but this year is a good reminder that we need to use water wisely and not waste it.

We take it for granted because so much of it falls in the form of rain each year. Nonetheless, it is a precious resource that is absolutely essential to every form of life.

Using water wisely, as individuals, businesses and governments, should be something that we do automatically, no matter what time of year it is.

 

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