WaterDrop was pleased to interview the City of Vancouver’s Water Conservation Manager, Jennifer Bailey last week about Vancouver and it’s water conservation efforts. As you can see from the interview below, Vancouver has seen some great progress over the years and is on a trend towards greater sustainability. Check out the entire interview, there is tons of helpful information and tips!
1.Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for the City of Vancouver.
Water Conservation Program Manager. Promote water conservation through public engagement of indoor and outdoor water use; manage incentive programs (water efficiency kits and rain barrels); provide education on the lawn sprinkling and, when required, enforcement of regulations; support City Farmer waterwise demonstration garden; administer elementary school plays on water conservation (see http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/AtoZ.htm)
2.How important to you is water conservation?
Water conservation just makes sense. It is about sustainable use of water to ensure affordable and equitable supply of drinking water into the future. We are in the enviable position of having protected source waters, supplying us with high-quality water at the turn of the tap. However, with a growing population, the demand on this resource is increasing. Becoming “water wise” through simple things such as retrofitting with water efficient fixtures and turning water guzzling lawns into gardens of drought-resistant plants, are great small steps for delaying costly expansions of our drinking water system.
3.What is your take on the global water crisis on a global, national and local level?
Access to a clean supply of water is essential for life. In Canada, we are fortunate to have about 6.5% of the world supply of fresh water. However, a need for sustainable water use on a national level within this seeming abundance, is supported by Canadians ranked as one of the largest per capita waters users (next to the US), supply by region (certain regions in Canada already have water shortages), and the relationship between water (storage, treatment, transport, and waste water treatment) and energy output and associated GHG emissions.
On a local level, we are seeing the average per-capita consumption drop, yet an overall increase in demand due to population growth. Per capita water use in all categories, residential through industrial, in the City of Vancouver has dropped to 542 litres per day in 2007 from 583 litres in 2006 and 764 litres in 1986. Contributing factors are the installation of more water efficient fixtures (replacing the old 20 litre toilets with low-flow six litre toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, water-efficient washing machines), lawn sprinkling restrictions, and a shift towards more people living in smaller and more water efficient housing options. Thus, the focus of the water conservation program is demand side management to reduce customer usage, through behaviour-based education and plumbing code modifications, as a means to delay costly water system infrastructure expansions.
4.How long have Vancouver’s water conservation and sustainability efforts been in place?
The City has taken a proactive approach to water conservation by implementing a variety of education and incentive programs in the early 90’s and amending the Vancouver Building by-law to require low flow fixtures on all new development. A brief timeline of the City’s water conversation initiatives is found below:
· 1993: lawn sprinkling regulations introduced; elementary school play on water conservation called “A2Z of H2O” was written and performed in all Vancouver (program has since expanded into other Metro Vancouver municipalities); and the replacement of an inclining block rate structure (where high volume users get price break) with a uniform rate for metered customers
· 1995: Ultra-low flow toilets, showerheads, aerating faucets, recirculating cooling systems and ornamental fountains mandated in new building construction; subsidized rain barrel program
· 1997: promotion of waterwise gardening through City Farmer
· 2002: Campaign on natural lawn care, “Grow Natural” Program
· 2005: Indoor water saving kit introduced
· 2006: Outdoor water saving kit introduced
· 2007: Lawn sprinkling door-to-door contact pilot; low flow spray valve installed in 750 restaurants; Vancouver Green Building Strategy being developed;
· 2008: Waterwise landscape guideline currently being developed
5. What do you think Vancouver’s role is in water conservation and sustainability on a national level?
City of Vancouver is a supporter Canadian Water and Wastewater Association and active member. The City also supports National initiatives that are appropriate for our local environment.
6. What is Vancouver currently doing to be a water sustainable city?
· Green Building Strategy – promoting energy and water efficiency in buildings.
· Green Homes Program – proposing building by-law changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase in-building water efficiency. http://www.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/CBOFFICIAL/greenbuildings/greenhomes/
· Promoting waterwise gardening – establishing waterwise guidelines for use by developers and property owners doing landscape work.
Sewers separation program – separating sanitary systems from storm water to avoid combined system overflow events, and reduce stress on wastewater treatment facilities.
Rain water management – treating rain water runoff as a resource through integration into rain gardens, vegetated swales, and providing opportunities for rain water to naturally percolate into the ground to recharge ground water. (http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/integratedDrain.htm)
7.What do you think of the state of awareness of water conservation efforts in Vancouver?
People have been very supportive of the City’s water conservation efforts. Some good indicators of this are: no opposition to low-flow fixtures mandated in new development, excellent uptake of incentive programs, and success of sprinkling regulations. In the City of Vancouver alone, the sprinkling regulation demand side management measure has resulted in saving excess of $10 million through the avoidance of transmission capacity upgrades.
8.Where would you like to see Vancouver in the future? What are Vancouver’s goals?
Water goals: to ensure long term reliable supply of water for a growing customer base through water loss management (controlling leakage) and working with customers on demand side management programs. The key drivers for conservation programs are water use reductions that allow for the deferral of costly supply and storage capacity increasing infrastructure projects, and reduced impact on the environment from supply increasing infrastructure construction work and less energy consumed by pump stations.
9.What are some good resources for people to find out more about saving water?
10.What can people do to be more water conscious and get involved with this initiative?
Take advantage of City’s incentive programs – indoor and outdoor water saving kits, and rain barrels.
If you have a lawn, let it go dormant in the summer, or if you must water, once a week (2.5 cm of water) is all you need for a healthy lawn.
Fix leaking toilets and faucets. A leaking toilet can waste 150 litres a day.
Thanks to Jennifer and the City of Vancouver for the interview!