Early Stage 2 water restrictions contrary to reducing peak flows

Dear editor,
I would like to respond to Marc Rutten’s (P. Eng. for the CVRD) letter to the editor in the June 17 edition of the Comox Valley Record.

Dear editor,

I would like to respond to Marc Rutten’s (P. Eng. for the CVRD) letter to the editor in the June 17 edition of the Comox Valley Record.

His stated goal for moving to Stage 2 water restrictions when there is no water shortage is to reduce the daily peak flow to save on future infrastructure.

However, both the Koers report and the Kerr Wood Leidal report (two major reports commissioned by the RD on our water system) state that water restrictions do not reduce demand; they just shift it to other times.

By restricting the watering time by 43 per cent (i.e. the difference between Stage 1 and stage 2 restrictions) you will increase your peak flows by the same 43 per cent. So going to Stage 2 restrictions early is actually counter to your stated goal of reducing those peak flows.

When looking at summertime peaks the Koers 2009 report cites a 20-per-cent reduction in the maximum daily demand over the 2003 to 2008 period, or over 32-per-cent reduction on a per-capita basis.

This was before we had a bylaw that moved to Stage 2 restrictions automatically on June 1 rather than when the water supply was starting to get short. The staged approach was developed to respond stepwise to water shortages not simply an arbitrary calendar date and people responded by reducing their demand.

The maximum daily demand for 2009 was 50,984 cubic metres yet in 2003 we used 62,462 cubic meters on July 31 of that year.

That is almost 12,000 cubic metres more than the maximum in 2009. What has happened since 2009?

The new date-activated water restrictions were imposed and that has resulted in an increase in the summertime peak daily demand to 53,676 cubic metres; a five-per-cent increase.

At the same time our total annual demand for 2010 was down by another 6.4 per cent over 2009, demonstrating my point.

So Marc, what is the justification for going to Stage 2 restrictions again and why, with the continual improvements to the water system, can we not deliver as much water in 2011 as we did in 2003?

On Marc’s point about people linking the amount of water released by BC Hydro and Stage 2 water restrictions, I would point him to the CVRD water restrictions webpage where the picture at the top of the page shows Comox Lake at is minimum drawdown level and the implication is that there is not enough water in the lake to supply our needs.

Regional district staff continues to justify political decisions by producing skewed analysis like Marc’s letter. Like the boy who called wolf, they have lost all credibility with the people of this Valley if not with its politicians.

If you want some accurate, data go to Richard Hallett’s webpage at http://comoxvalleywaterfacts.blogspot.com.

A good government would tell the people that they are doing a good job and get off their backs. As I have said before, the people of this Valley have responded to the water conservation issues by making significant reductions in both the daily peak demand and the overall annual demand.

Since 2006 we have reduced our water use from approximately nine million cubic metres per year to just over seven million cubic metres per year; a 20-per-cent reduction even though our population has grown by about eight per cent since then.

It is interesting to note that our water bills are up by about the same 20 per cent. Is there any link there?

Wayne White,

Courtenay