Comox Valley water plan proposes 50 per cent reduction by 2050

A regional Water Efficiency Plan proposes to cut water consumption in half, Valley-wide, by 2050. Courtenay’s target is 304 litres per capita per day for average day demand (ADD), and 580 litres/day for peak month demand.

“The good news is some of the demand for reductions is already achieved,” Neal Whiteside of Water Street Engineering said Monday at Courtenay committee of the whole.

A $10,000 provincial grant enabled the City to hire the Vancouver-based consultant to develop a Water Smart Action Plan. The idea is to reduce indoor and outdoor water use. The goal is to reduce non-agricultural per capita consumption by 50 per cent by 2050 in order to meet targets set out in the regional district’s Water Efficiency Plan. Intermediate targets are 30 per cent reduction by 2020, 40 per cent by 2030 and 45 per cent by 2040.

Despite an increasing population, average consumption rates in Courtenay are 18 per cent lower than in 2006. The consultant attributes the decreases to a combination of ‘fixture unit turnover’ (such as low-flush toilets) and water conservation efforts by the City and the CVRD. However, the 2050 goal will require “significant reductions beyond what can be achieved by fixture turnover alone.”

Water Street Engineering recommends universal water metering, which includes institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties. In response to a question from Coun. David Frisch, Whiteside said it would be possible — but more difficult — to reach the goals without universal metering.

The City meters about 60 per cent of its institutional, commercial and industrial customers, and has a funded operating program to meter the remaining 40 per cent, based on priority (high-volume users) over the next five years, said Trevor Kushner, director of public works services. There are more than 8,000 single family dwellings in Courtenay. Nearly 3,000 are meter ready. The other 5,000 homes would require chambers and setters before meters could be installed. These are primarily in older areas in west Courtenay.

Kushner thinks the 2050 targets are achievable.

“A water and sewer rates review is a critical first step in determining a potential residential water metered rate structure,” he said. “The intent is to ensure a sustainable utility, and to reflect fairness and equality in a user-pay system.”

Water user rates generally fund operations, while frontage rates help to upgrade infrastructure, he added.

Kushner notes that council approval is required before any changes are made to the City’s rate system.

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