Water Management Solutions

Water Solutions 

Healthy watersheds naturally clean, filter, and store water. They also provide key nutrients and habitat for native flora and fauna, making them vitally important not only for human health, but also for the health of our entire ecosystem.

 

In our last blog post we talked about some of the issues that have an impact on our watersheds on the Sunshine Coast. In the final segment of Our Watersheds and Water Supply program, we discuss various solutions to our water supply issues such as:

  • Using Less Water
  • Water Metering
  • Rainwater Harvesting Rebates
  • Water Restrictions
  • Permaculture Gardening
  • Cleanups of Local Streams
  • Comprehensive Regional Water Management Plan
  • Government Funding

Let’s take a deep dive into each of these solutions.

 

Using Less Water

This might seem like an obvious one but not every resident has had to think about their water usage in the past. But we have good news! Using less water can easily be integrated into everyday life and become a daily habit.

 

Here are some easy ways you can use less water at home:

1. Take shorter showers

A typical shower will use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute, try to reduce the amount of time the shower is running. 

2. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving

Use water in short bursts to rinse your toothbrush or razor. 

3. Don’t use your toilet as a waste basket.

Place a waste bin in your bathroom to discard tissues and other items.

4. Fill your dishwater before turning it on

Make sure you have a full load of dirty dishes before turning it on, this will save even more water than hand washing. If you do hand wash your dishes, don’t leave the water running for rinsing.

5. Use your washing machine for full loads only

The amount of water a washing machine uses will vary, but it is most efficient when full

6. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge

This puts a stop to letting the water run until it is cold, and will keep it even colder than the tap 

 

How to use less water in your garden: 

1. Water your lawn only when it needs it

Step on some of your grass, if it springs back up when you move your foot, it doesn’t need water.

2. Deep-soak your lawn.

When your lawn is thirsty, water it long enough for the water to soak down to the roots. Grass with only surface water will evaporate, leading to wastage 

3. Don’t water the sidewalk.

Make sure your sprinklers are positioned with strategy so all the water goes into the lawn 

4. Use a layer of mulch around your plants.

Using a layer of mulch, the rate of evaporation of moisture is significantly reduced. 

5. Plant drought-resistant plants and trees.

Many plants and trees can thrive without irrigation.

 

Still want to save more water? Try these: 

1. Check your toilet for leaks.

Put a few drops of food colouring in the toilet tank. Without flushing, if colour begins to appear in the bowl, you may have a leak which could be wasting more than 100 gallons of water a day

2. Reduce your toilets’ impact on water consumption.

Place a plastic container filled with water or sand/gravel to the bottom of your conventional toilet’s tank, out of the way of the mechanism. This can save more than 5 gallons of water per day without affecting the toilets efficiency 

3. Install water-saving shower heads.
A water-saving shower head can greatly reduce the amount of water you use.

4. Avoid playing with hoses and sprinklers, especially in the summer.

This fun summer activity is unfortunately extremely wasteful of our drinking water. Good thing the ocean is so near by, and we have many public beach access points to get to the water.

5. Consider implementing rainwater collection for outdoor use.

More on this in our next section!

 

Although conserving water can sometimes feel like a daunting task, we hope that these simple and easy tricks will help you get on your way to using less water!

 

Water Metering

Water meters are used to measure the amount of water consumed per household. 

Water meters can help financially incentivise conscious water consumption, as well as detect leaks. According to a study at UBC by Pascal Volker, municipalities that install water meters tend to consume less water and develop policies which provide accurate water data. 

 

What are the benefits of using a water meter? Let’s break it down.

1. Water Conservation Incentives

Keeping track of water consumption can help identify where to improve water usage and inspire you to develop more efficient methods of conservation 

2. Leak Detection

Abnormal results (i.e., a spike) in your monthly water meter report may help you detect a hidden leak in your property 

3. Water Wastage Detection

Water meters can also help you detect not-so-hidden leaks, such as a leaky faucet which can accumulate over time. Meters can help provide incentive to put a stop to the smallest of leaks 

4. Higher Energy Efficiency

Addressing leaks and being conscious of water wastage can increase the energy efficiency of your property. Even small amounts of energy alongside water wastage can add up – every bit counts!

5. Cost Monitoring

Checking your water consumption can allow you to reduce your overall cost of living, and identify ways to save money. Limiting your water usage, combined with higher energy efficiency can lead to big time savings!

 

As quoted by the SCRD (2023), water metering can help reduce water consumption by 20% to 30%. This is a substantial reduction and makes a significant impact on our overall water consumption on the Sunshine Coast.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Rebates 

Saving water can be both rewarding to the environment, help you save money, and even get you money back on rainwater harvesting systems!

 

The SCRD Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program allows users to get money back on their rainwater storage systems. These systems can allow residents on the Sunshine Coast to capture and utilise water for outdoor use, instead of using precious treated drinking water. Furthermore, you can have more freedom for outdoor water usage during drought periods. 

 

What rebates are available? 

  • Up to $500 for installing a minimum 4,500 litre rainwater storage system 
  • Up to $1000 for installing a minimum 9,000 litre rainwater storage system

 

To learn more about how to set up a system, visit the SCRD website here

 

Sign up for Tracking Your Water Usage 

The SCRD has made it very easy to sign up to track your water usage. By signing up, you will receive monthly water-usage updates by email.

 

Click here to track your water. 

 

But wait…there’s more. We are holding a draw on November 15th for those who sign up to track their water to win. 

Prizes include: 

 

Once you have signed up through the SCRD, email us at oceans@thescca.ca to be entered!

IMPORTANT: We will NOT know you have signed up unless you send us a confirmation email

Learn more

 

Water Restrictions 

In recent years, water restrictions in our community have become more common and have increased in severity. Every year, the SCRD implements regulations on outdoor water use from May 1 to September 30. 

 

During summer months, stress is put on water supply and storage systems due to hot and dry weather, or other unforeseen circumstances. Water restrictions are put in place to promote water conservation and reduce stresses on water supply systems. 

 

In the Sunshine Coast Regional District, there are 4 water conservation regulations. Stage 1 – Normal, Stage 2 – Moderate, Stage 3 – Acute, and Stage 4 – Severe. 

 

Water restrictions can provide temporary or emergency response to drought conditions. Water restrictions limit certain uses of water, and can ensure that critically limited water supplies are conserved enough to bring communities through drought periods. Saving water to reduce water demand will allow for stored water to last longer and reach more people. 

 

Water shortages are being seen across the globe, even in water-rich regions. A study published in the Water Resources Research journal, by Finley & Basu (2020), found that lenient water restrictions were not found to have a large effect on daily demands; however, cities which enforced strict water restrictions had a reduction in the variability of daily demands and a decline in peak demands during restrictions periods. Similarly, a study at the University of Waterloo has found that “municipalities with the strictest [water restriction] rules saw the most benefit”. It was found that lawn watering water is the number of reasons for water consumption spikes. In the future, gardens which use permaculture are the most water efficient. 

 

Permaculture Gardening 

“Permaculture is a philosophy for a sustainable, holistic lifestyle” (Nature’s Path, 2023). The term permaculture is a combination of the words permanent and agriculture. Permaculture gardening refers to a garden that is self-sufficient. Plants which make up a permaculture garden each have a purpose, some are used for food or medicine, while others are used to attract beneficial insects or to deter pests. Some plants are used strictly for improving the soil, and some are simply for contributing to the beauty of the garden. Overall, permaculture works with nature, rather than against it. 

 

Shifting to a permaculture garden can allow your garden to better withstand climate changes. Permaculture uses the theory of sustainable development. Some ways to build sustainable systems include: 

  • Rainwater harvesting
    Rainwater harvesting with a rainwater storage system can be a sustainable way to keep your permaculture garden watered all year
  • Lasagna Mulching
    This refers to the layered design of the garden, using a layer of cardboard or newspaper overtop of soil, with mulch added on top, which will decompose over time to result in nutrient-rich soils and reduce your need to add fertiliser. This is a low maintenance, no-till system.
  • Hügelkultur (hill culture)This system mimics the decomposition which occurs in a forest. This includes no-till berms (i.e., undisturbed mounds of soil) which maximise growing areas and need little/no irrigation or fertiliser, as the mound retains moisture and nutrient
  • Composting
    Composting is one of the most eco-friendly ways to reuse and recycle food waste or yard trimmings. Decomposing organic matter helps provide nutrients, retain water, and provide aeration to the soil of your garden. You can even stop by Starbucks to pick up free coffee grounds to add to your garden. Coffee grounds can help nourish the soil and deter pests.

 

 

Interested in building a permaculture garden? Visit these links to learn more: 

 

Cleanups of Local Streams 

Some ways you can help protect and conserve our watersheds and drinking water is to participate in local stream cleanups, or start your own!

 

Picking up trash, removing old car parts and appliances, or planting native trees to control runoff and erosion are some ways you can make a difference to local stream ecosystems. 

 

The Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers facilitate meets to meet other people with similar passions for stream conservation, as well as organise local stream cleanup efforts. Visit here to get in touch with the Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers

 

We urge everyone participating in stream cleanups to use caution for deep water or dangerous rapids!

 

BACKGROUND: SCRD Comprehensive Regional Water Management Plan 

In 2013, the SCRD developed a Comprehensive Regional Water Plan (CRWP), with the intent to meet sustainability goals to accommodate growth projections to the year 2036. The high population growth rate is projected at 2%. The areas encompassed include the Chapman water systems, Langdale, Soames Point, Granthams Landing, Eastboune, Cove Cay, and Egmont water systems. The CRWP focuses on the Chapman water system – which supplies over 90% of the Sunshine Coast residents. 

 

In 2013, the SCRD policy was to reduce the water demand by 33% from 2010 levels, by 2020. Based on the numbers from the 2022 reports of all systems combined, the average daily demand was 517L, which was down from 674 L in 2010 – a reduction of just over 23%. 

 

The SCRD is currently  developing a Water Strategy to ensure safe and reliable drinking water sources to more than 24,000 people on the Sunshine Coast. The SCRD held engagement opportunities between May-June 2022. You can read the Water Strategy Discussion Paper here. The SCRD is currently reviewing considerations for “regional growth, climate trends, and water efficiency initiatives”.  

 

Although the CRWP is a decade old, the plan still includes some relevant information, and direction for the local government to address water issues. One key recommendation of the CRWP was the creation of intensive demand management scenarios for the SCRD to reduce costs, within a reasonable timeframe. The plan estimated it would cost $30.5 million (2013) to better the water supply service to the Sunshine Coast. 

 

The funding breakdown can be seen here: 

Some of the elements of this plan included:

 

Projects that are underway and in the works in 2023 include:

More information about SCRD water projects here.

More information about Town of Gibsons Water projects here.

 

Provincial and Federal Government Funding 

As seen in the figure above from a decade ago, the SCRD cannot rely solely on local taxpayers dollars to cover the costs of expensive infrastructure to deliver potable water across the Sunshine Coast. The SCRD also relies on provincial and federal government funding to maintain and replace infrastructure (Canada Water Agency). 

 

In April 2023, the SCRD was awarded $6,000,000 from the Canada Community Building Fund-Strategic Priorities Fund grant. This will go toward phase three of the water meter installation project, with a total budget for the project of $9,391,750. Phase three of this project is the final phase, and includes installing water meters in West Sechelt, West Porpoise Bay, The Shore, East Porpoise Bay, Sandy Hook, Tuwaken, Selma Park, Davis Bay, and Wilson Creek. 

 

Phase one included water meter installations in North and South Pender Harbour Water between 2014-2015, and phase two included water meter installations in Halfmoon Bay, Egmont, Earls Cove, Roberts Creek, Elphinstone, and West Howe Sound between 2016-2017. 

 

As seen in the CRWP 10-year capital plan recommendations, universal water meter installations were intended to be completed between 2014-2015. 

 

However, the SCRD has had delays in the installation of meters due to push-back from Sechelt landowners on the Chapman system. Locals defeated the SCRD’s attempt to borrow money to install water meters for properties on the Chapman system. This delay also caused set-backs in other aspects of water conservation programming. For example, without metering the SCRD has been inhibited in their ability to detect or fix leaks. 

 

Until all users in the Chapman system are metered, the SCRD is also unable to implement volumetric billing – for those who have meters – as this would create an unfair, two tiered system. Fortunately, the District of Sechelt has finally approved funding for the last phase of the project ,and water meter installation is now underway!

 

Town of Gibsons Natural Asset Management 

Water Infrastructure FAQs

Aquifer info

The Town of Gibsons has undertaken several projects to enhance the protection of Aquifer 560. Two main projects are the:

  • Aquifer Mapping Study
  • Source to Sea Project

 

The Aquifer Mapping Study is part of a long-term initiative by the Town to sustain and protect Aquifer 560 (Gibsons Aquifer), which provides most of the Town’s water supply. Key findings in the report include:

  • Since 2013, considerable progress has been made in better understanding the movement and cycling of water in Aquifer 560, due to the Town’s successful implementation of a comprehensive groundwater monitoring program
  • Predictive modelling indicates Aquifer 560 can meet future demand as the Town’s population grows to approximately 10,000 at full buildout.

 

The Source to Sea Project encompasses the Towns 2013 Aquifer study, including the northern boundary set at the top of Mt. Elphinstone and the southern boundary at the Town’s waterfront. The west boundary is Chaster Creek and the east boundary is Gibsons Creek. 

 

The project evaluates the natural assets that lie within the entire watershed of the Gibsons Aquifer with the overarching goal to ensure that the natural assets within the Town’s entire watershed are understood, measured, valued and, ultimately, managed to ensure their health. This project will not only establish a baseline inventory of the natural asset, help recommend best management practices, and understand the level of service of the assets, but it will help support the implementation of recommendations for the Town’s Integrated Stormwater Management Plan. 

 

shishalh Nation water reservoir 

The shishalh Nation has developed a plan to construct a new water reservoir on an existing industrial site to tackle the ongoing drought emergency. This site would be built on the Heidelberg mine site on shishalh Nation land and will be used to store water in the off-season providing a much needed resource year-round. shíshálh Nation is applying for provincial funding and if funding is approved, construction for the reservoir can begin immediately.

Read more about this project here.

 

Sources

https://news.ubc.ca/2019/09/19/most-metro-vancouver-councillors-support-mandatory-water-metering/

https://blairsupplyusa.com/what-5-benefits-using-water-meter/

https://www.scrd.ca/water-regulations/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/the-essence-of-permaculture-gardening.htm#:~:text=Permaculture%20simply%20refers%20to%20a,are%20planted%20to%20deter%20pests.

https://www.scrd.ca/news/water-meters-contract-awarded/

https://www.scrd.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023-JUL-06-Sunshine-Coast-Raw-Water-Reservoir-Presentation-shishalh-Nation.pdf 

https://www.coastreporter.net/local-news/shishalh-nation-applying-to-provincial-government-for-reservoir-funding-7556293 

https://shishalh.com/2023/09/14/sunshine-coast-community-leaders-stand-with-shishalh-nation-to-solve-the-water-crisis/

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