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10th May 2023
Almost a given that we will suffer a drought over the summer

May. 4, 2023 7:00 a.m.EDITORIALS OPINION

On May 1 everyone in the Cowichan Valley Regional District automatically went on Stage 1 watering restrictions.

With the relatively cool and wet spring weíve had it may seem odd to begin conserving water this early in the year. Itís only in the last couple of weeks that many of us have put away our gloves, scarves and tuques.

But with it becoming almost a given that we will suffer a drought over the summer and fall months, itís important to keep water conservation in mind all year ó even when it feels like weíre drowning in it.

So what does Stage 1 mean? It means watering two hours per day, two days per week at maximum with conventional irrigation systems, though new lawns get a bit of a pass with an irrigation permit. Hand watering and drip irrigation are less restricted (so itís worth investing in these systems if you are a dedicated gardener). You can still go to town on pools, hot tubs, washing vehicles, driveways etc.

Even so, itís worth keeping an eye on how much water youíre using when undertaking some of these tasks. For example, perhaps use a hose with a spray end on it that stops the water flow when your hand isnít on the trigger, rather than putting a hose on to run continuously while you wash your car or deck.

At no stage do the water restrictions address household use, such as doing dishes, showering, and brushing teeth. Which isnít to say that we shouldnít try to develop water saving habits when doing these daily tasks. Donít leave the tap running while you brush your teeth. Shut off your shower as you soap up your hair. Donít put on the dishwasher if you have only a few dishes to clean. These can easily become year-round water savers that are then second nature in August when we havenít seen rain in months.

We live in a Valley of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds and it can be easy to take water for granted. When folks look out their windows at Cowichan Lake, for example, it can seem as if the water will always be there.

But consider that in the last few years officials have had to introduce new drought levels and water restriction levels (the CVRD added Level 4 in 2022) due to the severity of the conditions. Summer was late to start last year, but it extended well into October, merely shifting our worst waterless months to later in the year.

So even as we celebrate the rising of our outdoor temperatures, we must keep in mind that water is not a limitless resource.