Water conservation goal of broad plan
Upping efficiency by one-third by 2020 to involve low-flow toilets, more meters
VANCOUVER — British Columbians at all levels are being asked to get serious about water use in the face of population growth and climate change, and to help meet a provincial target of improving water efficiency by one-third by 2020.
The Living Water Smart plan unveiled by the province yesterday sets a wide range of goals that include mandatory low-flow toilets in new homes, the expansion of municipal water meters and the need for greater efficiency through improved farming practices such as irrigation.
“We know a change is upon us, and we have to prepare for that change,” Environment Minister Barry Penner said in an interview. “We have to stop taking water for granted. I don’t have a magic wand to create more.”
The water plan includes a requirement that school students get to know a local stream and assess its health as a way of connecting youths with the natural — and not just technological — world.
“I’m concerned about an increasing urban disconnect from nature,” Penner said. “It’s particularly acute for young people who get their mental and physical stimulation through artificial means such as video games.”
The government expects B.C.’s population to increase by 1.4 million people over the next 25 years, putting added pressure on water resources already stressed by global warming.
The blueprint for dealing with water issues includes fast-tracking green developments requiring provincial environmental approvals, recognizing water-flow requirements for ecosystems and species, and a Green Building Code requiring water conservation plumbing fixtures such as low-flow toilets.
Shane Simpson, the New Democratic Party’s environment critic, said most of the initiatives won’t take effect until 2012, and in any case will do nothing to address environmental problems associated with hundreds of run-of-theriver independent power projects across the province.
He called for a moratorium on such projects and for regional planners to consult with other water users and municipal governments.