Editorial: Let's be leaders in limiting litres

We have enough water to quench our thirst, and plenty more, too, but we should still savour every sip.

The City of Nanaimo is reaffirming a commitment with its 2014 Water Conservation Strategy, adopted this month. The municipality will expand its toilet rebate program, provide enhanced water billing information and promote grey-water irrigation.

It’s worth noting that Nanaimo is already doing relatively well with saving water. According to the city, residents met a target set in 2008 to reduce usage by 15 per cent. Nanaimoites now use 251 litres per person per day, better than both the national average of 274 litres and the B.C. average of 353 litres.

But if 251 litres per person still sounds like a lot, well, that’s because it is, and we’re right to wonder if it’s sustainable. A global leader in water conservation is the Netherlands, where residents use half what we use. Their methods aren’t a secret: industry there is devoted to recapture technology, but homeowners have mostly just installed low-flow toilets and shower heads.

In Canada, half our water is used in the bathroom, so plumbing renovations do make a difference. And kudos to those who take the trouble to capture rainwater or grey water for their lawns and gardens.

Those things help, but saving water has to be simple. Since it’s still viewed as something that’s free, sometimes it’s hard to see any incentive to turn off the tap.

So go ahead and save water the easy way. Take a shorter shower. Fill your dishwasher all the way. If you water your lawn, do so at a time of day that minimizes evaporation. The Regional District of Nanaimo has brainstormed dozens of ideas; search for its Team WaterSmart website for tips.

Lots of us in Nanaimo don’t need these reminders – we’re already making a worthy effort to be water-wise. But we can be stingier still. Let’s continue to be leaders in conservation. Let’s turn off the taps, limit our litres and respect our resources.

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