Many of the little boxes on my wall calendar seem to come with that little bit of writing at the bottom indicating a day of some significance, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Hanukkah, even the last day to file taxes is printed on my 2013 calendar.
With most of us running madly from one day to the next, it helps to have the calendar tell you why this particular day is special, reminding you it is the shortest or longest day, Nunavut Day or St. Patrick’s Day.
March 22 is one of those marked days, World Water Day. I am glad water has its own day. Without water we have nothing else.
Williams Lake has much to celebrate this World Water Day.
The most recent figures show a drop in city water consumption of 20 per cent over the last six years, with most of this attributed to residential conservation.
Why is this significant? Our city water comes from a confined aquifer deep underground throughout most of the valley.
Concerns about the aquifer first surfaced publicly in 2007 with the information that water levels in the aquifer around the Scout Island well fields had been dropping for many years.
With no other easy water source available, it became evident that the integrity of the aquifer must be maintained for the future well being of the city.
At that stage the best options were to find and fix any leaks in the system and to encourage water conservation — it is known that Canadians and particularly Cariboo residents use far more water than most other world citizens.
So the Water Wise program was initiated by the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society in partnership with the City of Williams Lake and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
This is a community-wide education program, focused on water conservation as well as water protection. There is a strong school-based component that includes class sessions and field trips, both to see the city water and sewage systems, as well as trips focused around watershed health. Radio ads and community events inform the public of the need to preserve and protect our water supply.
And it has worked. Residents started to respond almost immediately and water consumption has been dropping since 2006.
Even accounting for factors such as weather and population level fluctuations, the drop is still dramatic, reflecting the cumulative efforts from individuals, families and businesses.
So what does all this mean for the health of the aquifer? Currently, monitoring wells show the aquifer water level now appears to be stable. Recharge into the aquifer is thought to be just about equal to what is drawn out.
So while we all still have to be very careful with this resource, it is worth a round of applause to the whole community for their continuing conservation efforts this World Water Day.
Two hundred and eighty two more little calendar squares to go….
For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise, contact CCCS at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.cconserv.org.