After seven years of focused effort, 26 participating Water Smart communities in the Columbia Basin have made tremendous gains in water conversation skills and strategies, and most were successful in reducing overall water use, with local achievements ranging from 2 to 39 per cent.
“Columbia Basin communities have worked hard and have been recognized as emerging leaders in water conservation,” says Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust Manager, Water and Environment. “Their collective accomplishments are significant, and could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of each participating community. I offer my congratulations for being leaders in water conservation and working together to conserve our water resources.”
Water Smart’s collaborative, regional, data-driven model has been recognized as unique, and academics, utility professionals and water experts across Canada are taking note of the success and its transferability to other regions.
Through Water Smart, the Trust provided a wide range of resources to participating communities:
- a technical support team
- a public outreach program called Water Smart Ambassadors
- accredited training for water utility operators
- support to collect and analyze water use data more accurately, which helped communities identify how to conserve water most effectively
- an online hub for sharing news, tools and resources
- community-specific Water Smart Action Plans
- grants for community water conservation projects.
“Our participation in Water Smart has been instrumental in our community’s water conservation success,” said Dave Cockwell, Director of Operational Services, City of Fernie. “One-to-one support for water conservation planning and practical training has resulted in significant and sustainable water savings. It has also improved our capacity to continue this work into the future as a normal part of water utility operations.”
Across the Basin, staff in Water Smart communities developed cutting-edge expertise in water loss management, used technologies and practices to support sustainable water system operations, improved park irrigation efficiency, and are more accurately measuring and accounting for water use. They also used public outreach to reduce water use.
The communities have conserved water in two main ways: by reducing leaks in their water distribution systems, and by helping residents irrigate lawns and gardens more efficiently during the summer.
“Since 2009 Creston has worked with Water Smart to conserve water by reducing leaks in our water system and residential irrigation. In 2015 our work paid off, it was the hottest year on record, but our community still reduced water use. Through cost-effective, community-supported water conservation strategies, Creston has improved the sustainability of our water system,” Colin Farynowski, Manager of Engineering, Town of Creston.
Participating communities are now well-positioned to continue reducing water consumption while improving the quality and longevity of local water infrastructure and cost-effectively improving their resilience to climate change.
While Water Smart is coming to a planned end in December 2016, community water conservation is one of several activities that will be eligible for support through the Trust’s new Climate Action Program which will be launching in early 2017.
Learn more about communities’ Water Smart achievements and lessons learned: