Down to Earth: Water conservation in Williams Lake

For plant suggestions or tips on xeriscaping, look for our Water Wise brochures

One of my annual tasks is to wade through some statistics each year to assess how well the residents of Williams Lake are responding to the Water Wise program. I reach back into my distant memories of statistics courses and sift through flow rates from the Scout Island pump stations, Environment Canada rainfall data, population changes and industrial water use figures. Once I have the figures updated, I can start into averages to get to the essential question; how does the water use now compare with water use before Water Wise started?

The answer is we have 32.6 per cent lower water use if you take the average of the last three years (2020,2021,2022) and compare them with the average of the three years pre-Water Wise (2004,2005,2006). This is even better than the last year’s update (31.6 per cent) and shows a sustained response through rainy and dry summers and with the local population rise since 2013.

Some of this will be conscious decisions to conserve, such as watering lawns less frequently, or having shorter showers. There will also be the contribution of a slow replacement of newer water saving fixtures and toilets with time. Either way, the accomplishment is impressive and means the City’s water supply, an aquifer under the valley, is currently stable.

While this is great news, which feels needed right now with heavy smoke outside as I write this, the push for water conservation is as important as ever. The city is served by five deep wells into the aquifer and currently only three are operational. A new well will be installed this fall which will relieve pressure, but won’t be ready through this summer season, when water use typically almost doubles.

In the meantime, we are once again asking the city of Williams Lake residents to continue with their water conservation efforts and be conscious of their water use. Lawns are one of the major water users through the summer, so anything you can do to reduce water use on your lawn is appreciated. To keep a lawn green, you just need one inch of water twice a week- try placing a tuna can on the lawn and turn off the sprinkler when it is full. Alternatively, let the lawn go ‘golden’; most grass varieties will turn green again when the rain comes back.

In the future, you could also consider ‘xeriscaping’ or replacing part of the lawn with drought tolerant plants. These will need watering frequently initially, but once established will thrive with little extra watering.

For plant suggestions or tips on xeriscaping, look for our Water Wise brochures in the community or go to our website for the digital versions.

Once again, thank you for all that you are doing to protect the sustainability of Williams Lake’s water supply. (

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at or visit the website at

WaterWilliams Lake

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