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SUSTAINABILITY UPDATE: Sara Golling on the Water Stewardship Task Force

As part of a new and ongoing series of articles, the Rossland Telegraph will be providing monthly updates and insights into the goings on of the Sustainability Commission and its various task forces. To kick things off, Sara Golling, chair of the Water Stewardship Task Force has penned a FAQ regarding some of the concerns and questions surrounding the WSTF.


Q:           It's been a wet, cold spring ... why worry about water?


WSTF:   Not every spring is this wet. Water expert Hans Schreier has called Rossland's water supply "precarious" -- that's because we depend on small creeks that are fed entirely by precipitation, and precipitation (along with just about everything else -- have you looked at the price of pine nuts lately?) is becoming increasingly unpredictable.   If we are in the habit of using water extravagantly, then when we do have a shortage of it because of a low-snow winter and a dry spring and summer -- we would use so much that there would be nothing left in the streams. (That already happens sometimes.) So we want to encourage everyone to use water more carefully -- even when we seem to have lots!


Q:           Why does everyone have to get a water meter now? We lived for years here just fine without water meters.


WSTF:   When everyone in town is on water meters, the City can get a much better idea of how much water is being lost to leaks from our old pipes.    Also, being on a water meter is a great way to get people to stop wasting water as thoughtlessly as we all tend to do -- it has been proven that water meters reduce water usage significantly. We all become more aware how much we use when it's recorded, and we have to pay for it. 


Q:           So, you're saying I waste water?


WSTF:   Chances are you do -- most of us do.


Q:           How?


WSTF:   Do you do any of these things:

·         have an old toilet that isn't low-flush?
·         let the water run in the washbasin while you soap up your hands?
·         let the water run in the basin while you brush your teeth?
·         have a top-loading washing machine?
·         wash each item of clothing every single time you wear it?
·         launder your sheets and/or towel s every time you use them?
·         Have deep baths instead of showers?
·         have long, luxurious showers?
·         have a swimming pool or a hot tub?
·         wash your car?
·         sprinkle your nice green lawn for more than 20 minutes at a time?

Q:           Why should we have to pay for water anyway? It should be free. It comes out the sky!


WSTF:   You don't actually pay for the water. You pay a small portion of what it costs to collect the water, to pay for the pipes that bring it to the treatment plant, to pay for the treatment plant that makes the water safe to drink, to pay for the pipes that deliver the water to your home, and to pay for maintaining and replacing all that infrastructure and the wages of the people who do the work for us. It would cost more if we had to do all that for ourselves, individually -- our water system is really a co-operative effort. We all pool some funds to accomplish something that we need, that wouldn't make sense to try to do as individuals in a compact city like this. 

Q:           Why should I pay for treating water that I just use to flush my toilet and water the garden? The dog drinks out of the toilet, but nobody else does!
WSTF:   Good question. Some buildings are now being designed to collect rainwater from the roof for flushing toilets and watering gardens. You could bury a big huge tank in your yard, and run a pipe from your roof ... in some places, building codes now require people to catch and store a certain volume of precipitation.    More on this later! Meanwhile, let's try to cultivate a culture of being thrifty with our communal resources, like water, and a realization that giving and sharing are more fun than trying to hog it all.