Mayor's Report - May 2013

Drinking Water Week in British Columbia

Mayor Ralph Drew

British Columbians celebrated Drinking Water Week from May 20th to 26th, during which the BC Water & Waste Association encouraged everyone to "Get to Know Your H2O" and think about the impact of our everyday habits. In BC, we take our water for granted, but it is a finite resource that we need to value, protect and conserve.

When you turn on your tap and clean, safe water comes out, do you ever wonder how it got there? Every day, more than one billion litres of water flows from our taps in Metro Vancouver without us giving much thought to where the water comes from, how it gets to our homes, and how much of it we use. Our water is collected from rainfall, snowmelt, creeks and streams in the mountains of the region's watersheds, and flows to us through an enormous network of reservoirs, pumping stations and water mains. The precipitation arrives without charge, but the reservoirs, treatment facilities, pumps and pipes are a huge and costly investment.

Metro Vancouver's citizens have, through water conservation, reduced their average day per-capita water use by 24% between 1993 and 2012. The decline in winter per-capita water use has steepened since the September 2005 implementation of the Drinking Water Management Plan (DWMP) and municipal water conservation actions such as the requirement for 6 litres per flush toilets in new construction. Water use in the Metro Vancouver region today is about 380 litres per-capita per-day, and is now lower than the average day per-capita water use in other regions of BC, Canada, and the United States by 12%, 7%, and 13%, respectively. Despite a growing Metro Vancouver population, average day water use in the region has been roughly constant in recent years and is forecast to remain roughly constant through 2025.

Per Capita Water Use In The Region

If the expected demand reductions are consistently realized across several summers, then it may allow Metro Vancouver to defer some significant capital projects related to growth in water demand. Using the proposed new second intake and associated treatment works at the Coquitlam source as one example, a deferral of the $380 million capital costs of those works would result in an estimated annual cost saving of about $11 million (2013 dollars).

Water conservation means deferred capital expenditures and savings to all Metro Vancouver property owners. Don't waste water; it's more expensive than you think.


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