By: Michael Decker
I take 15 minute showers. I run the tap when I brush my teeth. I find a sink full of dirty dish water unsettling so I wash each individual dish and pot under the tap with the water running. I prefer a clean shiny car so I wash it at least once a week. To keep my lawn lush and green during the summer, I water it regularly. Sound excessive? It should. But like plenty of Canadians, I haven’t spent a great deal of time considering water conservation. When I turn on the tap I expect clean fresh water to come out of it. This was the way I approached water consumption until my home town in British Columbia decided to adopt water meters.
When I heard the news that my town was going to implement water meters I, like many others within the community, was baffled. Our town is located near a stable source of fresh water. Our drinking water is world-renowned (ranked third in the world one year). So why was our town council implementing water meters?
After researching Canada’s water supply, and issues surrounding water conservation, it became clearer that Canada’s water supply wasn’t as stable as I once thought. However, a problem arises for municipalities when they try to implement water conservation measures when they currently have a stable abundant supply. To address these concerns, municipalities should highlight the significant cost of treating water and the benefits of leaving water in the environment. This belief that Canada has an abundant supply of water has led to many Canadians becoming unwitting water gluttons.
Could it be true? Was I consuming water like a glutton? In addition, I was shocked to discover that my home town consumed on average 1,100 litres of water per capita per day compared to the national average of 426 litres.
The concept of water meters is very simple. Meters measure how much water you consume and then you are charged a fee based on your consumption. Once I found out that I would be charged for the amount of water that I consumed, I immediately found ways to conserve water. This was, of course, the objective of my local town council in implementing water meters. I give credit to my town council, and to cities and towns across Canada who have implemented water metering as a way of conserving water.
As a result of this initiative, I’ve reconsidered my personal water usage. I no longer take long showers, brush my teeth with the water running, wash my car every week, or water my lawn every day. I have gotten over my fear of dish water and I only run the dishwasher when it is completely full.
I am proud to say that I am no longer a water glutton. If I can be reformed, there’s a good chance that others might rethink their habits, too.
For more information on water conserving measures and for additional urban environmental policy tools, check out Canada West Foundation’s new report Tools of the Trade: Urban Environmental Improvement Options.