5.1 Water Conservation Plans
Water conservation planning is receiving more and more attention in BC. There is a growing appreciation of the limited availability of water supplies, and an increasing concern about the impacts of climate change on water supply and demand. Water conservation is one of the best mechanisms to manage water demand within existing supplies, and avoid the cost of developing additional supplies. Rainwater harvesting, leak detection and repairs, and greywater recycling are just a few water conservation strategies that can reap significant benefits for communities. Conservation is particularly important in areas that are experiencing population growth, economic development and other changes that lead to increased demand for water. Water conservation is important in areas where there may be a reduced water supply in the future as a result of climate change.
Characteristics, Benefits and Applications
Water conservation plans focus on managing water demand, reducing consumption, and improving efficiency of water use. These plans extend beyond household water savings to include industrial, commercial, institutional and agricultural water users. The plans, are relevant to both surface and groundwater sources.
Water conservation plans can help communities manage the impacts of water shortages that are less severe than drought conditions. These plans can also deliver benefits to communities that are not presently experiencing water shortages. Through conservation, water suppliers can reduce the costs associated with developing new water supplies, drinking water treatment, drinking water distribution, wastewater treatment and associated pumping and energy costs.
Local governments in BC are now required to have water conservation plans to be eligible for provincial capital grant funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
Water conservation plans are typically developed at the geographic scale of a community or region. It is important to consider all water users (residential, agricultural, industrial), all water supplies (surface and groundwater) and how these users and supplies interact with, and affect, each other. Therefore, the use of a holistic approach or “watershed eye-view” to water conservation planning is beneficial. This translates into considering entire watersheds in the decision-making process, and integrating all aspects of water management into the plan.i
Key Elements and Steps
The following are some of the key elements and steps in preparing a Water Conservation Plan:
The POLIS Project on Ecological Governance is a BC-based organization that has undertaken significant research on water issues and has recently published a guide on water conservation planning.
POLIS characterizes a strong water conservation plan as having:
POLIS characterizes an excellent water conservation plan, as one that goes further to:
While it may not be possible or practical in all cases for communities to achieve these characteristics, it is important to consider them during the development and implementation of water conservation plans to ensure the plans are effective, comprehensive and successfully implemented.
Back to top
READ MORE ABOUT:
MANAGING WATER SUPPLY AND DEMAND