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Regional District of Nanaimo surveys Parksville and area residents on freshwater concerns

98 per cent of city respondents have high ecological awareness on issue
A screenshot from the Jan. 17, 2022, Parksville city council meeting where Julie Pisani, drinking water and watershed protection program co-ordinator for the Regional District of Nanaimo, presented results from a survey conducted between June 28 and Aug. 2 of 2021. (Submitted photo)

The results of a public survey on freshwater perspectives by the Regional District of Nanaimo showed 98 per cent of Parksville respondents have high ecological awareness and motivation “to be environmentally responsible, considering water needs for fish and aquatic ecosystems.”

The survey results were presented to Parksville city council on Monday, Jan. 17, by Julie Pisani, the drinking water and watershed protection program co-ordinator for the RDN. The program serves all four member municipalities and seven electoral areas within the RDN.

The survey, conducted either over the phone or online, was held between June 28 and Aug. 2 of 2021.

“The main objective of this research was to gain a better understanding of community perspectives behaviours and priorities concerning freshwater resources in the region,” said Pisani.

Of the 1,393 total surveys received by the RDN, 122 were completed by Parksville residents.

In terms of awareness of drinking water source, 34 per cent of Parksville respondents correctly identified that they get their drinking water from municipal-operated systems, while 26 per cent incorrectly identified the RDN, and 15 per cent indicated that they didn’t know where their drinking water came from. In terms of watershed awareness, 55 per cent identified that they lived in the Englishmen River Watershed, and 25 per cent cited French Creek.

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Parksville results reflected some of the highest watershed awareness levels across the region.

Of the Parksville respondents, 87 per cent, the highest rate of all areas surveyed, identified saving money on water and energy bills as a key motivator in conserving water.

“Interestingly, Parksville residents were also among the least likely within the region to report that they monitor their water usage on their bill or water metre, at only 60 per cent of respondents identifying that they did,” said Pisani, adding Parksville respondents were among the most likely, within the region, to cite a large lawn or landscape area as the main barrier preventing them from conserving more water.

The findings of the survey pointed to a positive uptake of water conservation behaviours. It also identified that more work needs to be done to enhance public literacy on drinking water sources and home watersheds among residents. It also showed room for improvement on certain water conservation behaviours that the RDN encourages through existing rebate programs.

The survey results will help tailor the RDN’s drinking water and watershed protection program implementation to best suit the needs of, and address the gaps present, in various communities.

The 2021 results will benchmark against future surveys to gauge change and progress over time, with the intention of conducting two more surveys within five-year increments.

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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