Waste not want not: water conservation tips in a time of drought

This spring, alarm bells were raised as the provincial snowpack in BC was reported to be the lowest on record since 1970. In addition to low snowpack, early snowmelt has also created cause for concern. As we enter the warm summer months, these conditions are creating significant drought hazards. Drought affects humans and wildlife, impacting food security, limiting access to drinking water, and increasing the risk of wildfire. Water usage generally increases over the summer, mostly due to the watering of lawns. In fact, according to the City of Cranbrook, water use can go up by 60% in these warmer months. With increasing concerns over water supply, it is more important than ever to be mindful of consumption and try to reduce unnecessary water usage. The good news is that there are many simple steps to take in order to reduce individual water consumption! Keep reading to learn more about usage reduction and our local water supply.

Photo credit: Dean Chatterson

Where does our water come from?
The cities of Cranbrook and Kimberley are both located within the St Mary River Watershed. In Kimberley, water is sourced from Mark Creek and Matthew Creek with Mark Creek supplying water to Kimberley and Forest Crown, and Matthew Creek supplying Marysville. Similarly, Cranbrook relies on two water sources: Joseph Creek and Gold Creek. The water from both of these watersheds is diverted into the Phillips raw water reservoir. 

Water usage in our communities is high – in fact, our usage exceeds provincial averages. For instance, in 2019, while the provincial average was 494 litres per capita per day (lpcd), Kimberley reached 1,077 lpcd. However, it is important to note that this consumption includes industrial and commercial uses, such as irrigation at Trickle Creek Golf Course and snow-making at Kimberley Alpine Resort. As our communities grow, these high rates of water consumption will put a strain on our water supply and municipal infrastructure. In addition to necessary changes in infrastructure, there are measures that individuals can take to reduce their water usage.

Water conservation tips

In the summer, most lawns only require about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week to stay healthy. This amounts to one hour of sprinkler use each week. Reducing lawn area is a great way to save water. Furthermore, when selecting plants for your garden, look for native species that do not require much water. 

Usage Reduction
Reducing water consumption both indoors and outdoors can include the following steps:

  • Avoid letting the tap run while brushing teeth and shaving,
  • Try taking shorter showers,
  • Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they are full,
  • Avoid flushing garbage down the toilet.

Repair any leaking appliances or plumbing. Leaking toilets and faucets can waste thousands of litres of water. Fortunately, these can be fixed easily. 

Replace or adapt older appliances to be more water-efficient. 

  • Replace older toilets (15 years or older) with ultra-low-volume to save more than 70% of water flushed.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to reduce the flow of water when washing up.

For more tips and information: