The summer heat has arrived and people are enjoying our beaches, parks and bike trails more then ever before. With no end in sight to this great weather we also need to start thinking about how close we were to running out of water last October.
Water is the most important resource we have, and because we live in a temperate rainforest, we sometimes think that it is an unlimited resource here.
This is far from the truth and we need to start to plan now how we can each conserve water, so that we are all better off come this fall.
Canadians use an average of 343 litres of water per day, second in consumption only to the United States.
Last year the Sunshine Coast had to move to Stage 3 level watering restrictions on September 10, which disallows all sprinkling of lawns or gardens. Less than a month later they announced a Stage 4 level watering restriction. This had never been done before in the history of the SCRD and was a very serious move to curb all unnecessary water use. No longer were residents of the Coast allowed to fill up a watering can to give their gardens a drink of water let alone sprinkle their lawns.
In a time when we speak about food security and buying local, it’s very important that we don’t reach that point again where the fresh food in our gardens dies for lack of water – just because we over consumed that water during the early summer months.
So what can you do to help keep our water supplies up this summer? A few simple tips include: cut back on using washing machines and dishwashers, running a load only when the machines are full. This could save up to 1,000 litres a month. Plant drought-tolerant and native shrubs and groundcovers in all those hard-to-water areas. Place a jug of water in the fridge instead of letting the tap run to get cooler water.
Follow the SCRD’s watering schedule (www.scrd.ca/Sprinkling-Regulations) and sprinkle your lawn and gardens in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler in order to minimize evaporation.
It’s always smart to spread a layer of mulch down around the base of your plants. (See our story on page 10 for all the benefits of mulching.) Mulching helps retain soil moisture which can then be absorbed by the roots. It can also help stop the spread of weeds and look appealing.
Finally, it’s smart to set up a rain barrel system to collect the water from your eaves and then store it for future use.
If we each, as individuals, recognize water as our community’s most precious resource and work to conserve it, perhaps we will not be facing another water shortage at summer’s end.
Jim Dorey, Editor