Not without reason, people in B.C. tend to take water for granted.
After all, it seems like we have and inexhaustible renewable supply. Even here in Penticton, just north of Canada’s only pocket desert, it’s hard to look at the beautiful lakes on either side of the city and believe that we are in a drought.
I’m sure that’s what the people of Summerland were wondering back in 2003, when streams began to dry up in a severe drought that year, and the town’s reservoir was so drained officials worried there wasn’t enough water to carry the community through the year.
It is time that we got past that idea. You only need to look to places like Arizona, where major cities are far outstripping the ability of the natural aquifers to renew themselves.
The South Okanagan may be a long way from that level of drought, but there is little doubt that the human population is putting an increasing strain on the natural water supply of the region, at the same time as drier winters and hotter summers seem to be trending.
With the region declared to be a Level 3 drought, the City of Penticton has asked residents to cut back on their water use by 30 per cent. There are lots of ways to achieve that goal — watering lawns a little less, for example — but even after the drought conditions are over, that shouldn’t be a signal to returning to wasting water.
It’s time to start thinking of the future. Fresh water is an endless resource, to be sure, but only if humans don’t outstrip nature’s ability to renew this most basic and vital resource.