The City and CBT team up to analyze our backyard water footprint

Rachel Selkirk
By Rachel Selkirk
June 8th, 2011

 Although rain has been plentiful in the last few weeks, the City of Rossland is looking at ways to help conserve water this summer. Together with the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) the city will be offering individual Landscape and Outdoor Water Audits free of charge to homeowners.


The water audits are part of the Water Smart initiative from the CBT. “The Water Smart Initiative is a basin-wide water conservation initiative and CBT is providing support for local governments to address community water use,” said Heather Mitchell, program manager of Water Initiatives.


With a scheduled appointment, a water ambassador will complete an audit of a home’s outdoor watering situation. “Local ambassadors will come to the homeowners’ residence and do a walk-through of the yard. They’ll look at the current water system, types of plants, and the health of the soil.”


After addressing any issues the homeowner has, the ambassador “will take a soil sample and a watering assessment and provide some recommendations to reduce their water use over the summer months.”


While every yard is different, Mitchell says there changes that nearly every homeowner can make. “One of the most common is watering less. A lot of people water more than they actually need to.”  Other common changes are letting the grass grow longer and knowing what time of day is best for watering.


With domestic water use escalating the pressure put on the basin, the CBT hopes the water audits will reduce overall demand. “Currently outdoor water use in the summer accounts for a really significant percentage of the basin water demands. We feel that by working with local governments, we can reduce these peak demands.”


The Water Smart Charter is a Charter that can be signed by any community in the Columbia Basin. Currently, 22 communities have signed on. “It’s a totally voluntary program and any community in the Columbia basin is welcome to join at any time.”


While signing the Charter is not a required step to reduce water usage, it helps showcase a community’s dedication. “The Water Smart Charter outlines a demonstration of each community’s commitment to reducing their water use by 20% by 2015.” This is the target for the entire Columbia Basin, although the each community can set their own individual goal.


The Columbia Basin Trust provides funding to communities to help reduce water usage. With communities in the basin consuming larger-than-average amounts of water, this match funding can go a long way. “In the Columbia basin we have high water use compared to the BC average and the Canadian average.” Mitchell said most funding is used by communities to help pay for the water ambassador.


This is the first year that backyard water audits have been offered in the Columbia Basin, but it’s anticipated to be a success.


“This is a bit of a trial year for us. We hope to receive feedback from the ambassadors, their local government supervisors and hopefully from the communities. Then we can determine what to revise for next year.”


Water audits can be scheduled by contacting Rossland’s Water Smart Ambassador at 250-521-0222. For information on the Columbia Basin Trust’s Water Smart Initiative, visit their website.


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