About 26 per cent of B.C residents have no idea where their household water comes from and Daisy Foster wants to change that.
The CEO of the 4,400-member B.C. Water and Waste Association said it is because of stats like that they are challenging the public in an awareness campaign to take simple water wise actions in their daily lives.
“What we want people to understand is that when they turn on their tap and fresh, clean drinking water comes out that it just doesn’t magically appear there,” said Foster. “When people use water and it goes down the drain, they don’t think any more about it. They see it go and that’s it, OK it’s gone. There is a lot more that happens to that water after it goes down the drain.”
Drinking Water Week, from May 13 to 19, includes the Community Water Challenge to promote an appreciation of water systems and the people who bring clean, safe water to the taps. A provincewide contest is asking people to pledge online to take one or all five different water wise actions such as limiting shower time or not putting grease or other harmful substances down drains and toilets. Those who make a pledge at www.drinkingaterweek.org/challenge will automatically be entered in a draw for a water-themed getaway.
“We are encouraging everybody to take a pledge. There is a list of very simple things that anybody can do to really make a difference,” said Foster.
For example, she said, few people know if you take a shower longer than five minutes with a regular shower head, you are consuming 14 litres of water every minute. Foster also targeted toilets as one of the largest users of water in a household. She said using a low-flow toilet takes if from 18 L of water used down to six per flush.
“If you have a family, that can save a lot of water,” said Foster.
While the challenge takes place during Drinking Water Week, Foster hopes this builds into more awareness year round. She said even small adjustments in daily activities will make a difference.
“We think that once you raise awareness, the challenge will be an ongoing basis for people. You might turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth and that will encourage you to think about maybe I should use less water in the shower as well. The cumulative effect of that when you get a whole population doing it can really make a difference,” said Foster.
On average, Foster said, British Columbians use more water per day than other Canadians and over double what Europeans use.
“Our water goes on quite a journey from the original source before it comes out of our taps and is safe to drink and then is released cleanly back into the environment. We hope people will start to appreciate this as well as the human input and costs required along the way,” said Foster.
The B.C. Water and Waste Association is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to safeguard public health and environment through the sharing of skills, knowledge, education and experience. In addition to the Community Water Challenge, there are plans for a number of events and activities during Drinking Water Week in May.
“We will have many communities involved doing things like taking people on tours of their watersheds, water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, having public meetings and talking about water issues in their communities,” said Foster.