Protect Your Drinking Water: June Blog

Protect Your Drinking Water!

Megan Fong, Water Wise Outreach Assistant

The beautiful sunshine is here! Bees are buzzing, ice cream is melting and water parks are refreshing us in the summer heat. We use so much water in the summer time but we don’t think about how our water use effects our drinking water supply. Did you know that we use our drinking water to flush our toilets and water our lawns and gardens? Township of Langley residents and businesses use 12.8 million m3 of water each year; equivalent to filling 5,120 Olympic sized swimming pools!

The Water Wise Program is active in the Township of Langley this summer to educate residents about water conservation methods and lawn sprinkling regulations. While working at the Water Wise display booth at a recent community event, I spoke with a delightful lady named Cindy, who told me all the ways she and her family conserved water. Cindy’s water comes from a private well and she was concerned that the groundwater may not always be available for her and her family.

Although we use a lot of water outdoors in the summer, don’t forget about the ways you can conserve water inside your house; 65% of our indoor water use is in the bathroom! Inside her home, Cindy conserves water by:

  • Checking toilets and faucets for leaks
  • Turning the tap off when brushing teeth
  • Purchasing water efficient appliances (such as dishwashers and clothes washers)
  • Not using their toilets as a waste basket
  • Installing a low flow toilet and shower head
  • Taking short showers (around 5 minutes) and only filling the tub halfway or a quarter full
  • Using a vegetable brush and a basin of water to wash fruits and vegetables

Did you know that one lawn sprinkler uses as much water in 1 hour as 25 toilet flushes, 5 loads of laundry and 5 dishwater loads, combined? Outside her home Cindy likes to:

  • Using a watering can to water plants
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways
  • Installing a spring-loaded nozzle on your hose
  • Watering the lawn 1 hour or 1” per week to keep her lawn drought resistant

It was amazing to hear Cindy’s family doing so much save water! Then she began to talk about her little issue with plants, “I love flowers but most of them die unless I give them LOTS of water! I always forget to water them and I often only have time during the day when most of the water evaporates”. I immediately thought of her using native plants to landscape her yard, so I picked up the ‘Salmon Friendly Gardening’ brochure and handed it to her, explaining that once they are established, native plants require little to no water to maintain.

Then she asked me “Is there anything else I can do to save water?” I suggested that she could stop watering her lawn and let the grass Go Golden and dormant for the summer; when the rains return in the fall it will become lush and green again. “That’s great for my front lawn but what if I want to keep a green lawn for my children?” I suggested that she could leave grass clippings on the lawn or add topsoil to her lawn to retain moisture. “You could always invest in a rain barrel to water your flowers and shrubs” , I suggested. The water collected in a rain barrel is rainwater, so it wouldn’t be the clean enough for drinking, but she could definitely use it to water her plants. “What about mosquitoes?”, she asked. “Make sure there is a mesh screen on top of the rain barrel to keep mosquitoes out, simple as that!”, I answered “Thanks Megan, a rain barrel is a great idea!”

rainbarrel

Cindy’s source of water comes from her private well, so her family and her neighbors know that without water conservation efforts, private wells could deplete the water from the well more quickly than the underground aquifer could recharge. Our groundwater is shared with many users, including agriculture, industry, and the natural environment. In some areas, groundwater is being used faster than it can replenish. Since she uses so many water conservation methods she is using much less water and therefore ensuring that the aquifer has the time to recharge. Sometimes recharging an aquifer takes years!

Although in this case, Cindy’s water source is a private well, everyone can conserve water to ensure that everyone gets the water they need. Curious as to where your water comes from? Nearly 50% of Langley Township water comes from our local groundwater supply and the remaining 50% is supplied by Metro Vancouver from the Coquitlam watershed. Your drinking water source depends on where you live; west Langley communities receive a mixture of groundwater and Metro Vancouver drinking water, while east Langley communities (Acadia, Aldergrove, Gloucester, and Tall Timbers) rely 100% on local groundwater supplies. The Township of Langley will soon be providing Metro Vancouver water from the Coquitlam watershed to east Langley communities.

Here in British Columbia the average resident uses 353 litres of water per day! That’s equivalent to about 88 4L milk jugs, every day. Compare that to the average Canadian with 274 litres of water per day and we can see that we use a huge amount water! With increased episodes of drought occurring, we must all do our part to conserve our precious water resources.

For more information about the Water Wise Program visit http://www.leps.bc.ca/water-wise/ or http://www.tol.ca/Current-News-Initiatives/Initiatives/Water-Wise-Community

For more information about private well water testing in the Township visit http://www.tol.ca/Current-News-Initiatives/Initiatives/Private-Well-Network

We have free private well and septic tank seminars coming up in July! For more information contact [email protected] or 604-546-0345