RDN irrigation check-ups help reduce water usage

Analysis show that high-water users that entered the service reduced consumption during summer

Awareness of their summer water usage patterns can help people to reduce their consumption during the dry season, a five-year Regional District of Nanaimo study has determined.

As a measure to conserve water, the RDN introduced TeamWaterSmart free irrigation check-up service in 2011. The goal was to assist heavy water users in reducing outdoor water consumption, particularly during summer when usage is often at a high level.

An analysis was completed to determine if the free irrigation check-up service has had a postive impact on water consumption in the regional district. The team’s report will be presented to an RDN Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Technical Advisory Committee on April 19.

The service, which entailed visits to identify water waste associated with automated irrigation systeyms, was opened to all interested residents in the regional districts. But from 2012 to 2017, the service focussed on residents who were flagged for high summer water use.

The data collected from participants from Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Lantzville, Nanaimo and RDN’s rural communities indicated that the irrigation check-up service has had an impact on the way people consume water. Based on the data, 65 per cent of participants across the regional district reduced their summer water use.

Team WaterSmart completed 299 free irrigation check ups for high-water users that included collecting data from water meters in the regional district and each municipal water service area. The data were collated and evaluated to quantify the changes in summer water consumption after residents entered the conservation programs.

Significant reductions in water use across the region averaged a net conservation of 5,452 cubic metres (almost 5.5 million litres of water) from 2011 to 2016. Thirty-nine per cent of participants reduced their consumption dramatically enough that it was measurable above their average fluctuation in use (“significant decrease”), and twenty-six per cent reduced their overall water use by an amount that fell within the distribution of annual fluctuations (“minor decrease”).

While the majority of participants in the program reduced their overall summer water use, 35 per cent increased their water use following participation, with 15 per cent increasing use significantly.

Except for Nanaimo, the majority of participants in each of the water service areas reduced their water use after participating in the free irrigation check-up service.

Overall, residents from Qualicum Beach reduced their water use most dramatically and contributed most to the regional conservation total. Participants from Qualicum Beach also used the greatest amount of water per summer on average.

The result of the analysis indicated the Team WaterSmart initiative had a positive impact on summer water-use patterns and resulted in net conservation of water across the region, the report stated.

Send story tips to: michael.briones@pqbnews.com

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