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Your Stories

Stories are pouring in from Water Smart people across British Columbia. Follow the ‘new’ story links below to read about some of the great things British Columbians are doing.

Water Smart Actions people are doing include:

Your Stories
  • Upgrading toilets and showerheads to low flow models and placing aerators on taps
  • Thinking differently about water use in the home by taking shorter showers, reusing bath or kitchen water, reducing the amount of toilet flushing and car washing.
  • Changing the styles of landscaping away from thirsty plants to xeriscaping
  • Watering the garden early in the morning or at night
  • Upgrading home appliance to water efficient models
  • Collecting rainwater or waste water for use in the garden
  • Washing cars less frequently, with a cloth or at a car wash that recycles water.

If you have a water story you would like to share, send an e-mail to [email protected].

DISCLAIMER – some stories have been edited and shortened for readability.


New Living Water Smart Stories

Living Water Smart in Metro Vancouver: Surrey Water Balance Model Forum starts dialogue about building greener communities and protecting stream health

In March 2009, the City of Surrey hosted the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum. The ‘Surrey Forum’ was undertaken as an outreach opportunity for Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Initiative.

Organized in collaboration with the Green Infrastructure Partnership and the Inter-Governmental Water Balance Model Partnership, the Surrey Forum was a first step in advancing a ‘regional team approach’ to rainwater management and green infrastructure in Metro Vancouver. The desired outcome is to build greener communities that protect and/or restore stream health.

“Our goal is to align local actions in Metro Vancouver with provincial goals as stated in Living Water Smart. Making this happen requires partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration,” states Raymond Fung, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership (and Director of Engineering & Transportation, District of West Vancouver).

“We saw the Forum as providing an opportunity to generate positive energy in the region. Already, the Forum has informed actions identified in the rainwater/stormwater component of Metro Vancouver’s pending Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan. We believe this plan is where the opportunity for implementing a regional team approach resides.”

The Forum program was built around the HOW question as it pertains to green infrastructure: HOW will the City of Surrey ensure it gets built right; HOW will a consistent regional approach be achieved in Metro Vancouver.

“The City of Surrey hosted the Water Balance Model Forum because we wanted to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project implementers,” states Vincent Lalonde, the City’s General Manager, Engineering. “We approached the program design from a shared responsibility perspective; we explored how policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to ensure responsible outcomes.”

“We wanted the policy people to have an appreciation for what is involved in constructing green infrastructure; and we wanted the implementers to understand what the provincial, regional and local goals are…and what we are trying to achieve in Surrey through the use of policy, approved standards and legal tools.”

"The Forum was a success," reports Remi Dubé, Acting Development Services Manager with the City of Surrey. "We have been getting some pretty good feedback from many of the people who attended the Forum (specifically developers and consultants).  It’s leading into more direct communication with certain developers who are looking at different approaches … they seemed encouraged with the dialogue that the Forum appeared to promote."

“Surrey has moved beyond pilot projects; we are moving to a broader watershed objectives approach to capturing rain where it falls to better protect our streams.”

“Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there. All of us … whether we are regulators, developers or designers … need to understand and care about the goal if we are to create the future that we all want,” concludes Vincent Lalonde.

Case Study for Living Water Smart: Cowichan Valley Water Balance Model Forum establishes practitioner expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure

The Cowichan Valley is Living Water Smart pilot and adopting an inclusive and collaborative approach to building green infrastructure capacity through education and training. In October 2008, the Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted a ‘by invitation’ Water Balance Model Forum. This was part of the implementation program for Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual.

Developed by an Inter-Government Partnership to facilitate a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure, the web-based Water Balance Model is unique. The tool bridges engineering and planning, links development sites to the stream and watershed, and enables local governments to establish science-based runoff performance targets.

The purpose of the Cowichan Valley Forum was to inform, educate and enable those who wish to apply the Water Balance Model to support a ‘design with nature’ approach to land development. Willing development proponents and their planning/design consultants collaborated with the Water Balance Model team to develop three case study applications that were shared at the Forum.

Building on the Vancouver Island experience, the City of Surrey hosted the first Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum in March 2009. This learning event adapted the Cowichan Valley format for establishing local government expectations.

“The Forum was an outcome of the 2008 Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series,” explains Kate Miller, Manager of Regional Environmental Policy Division, CVRD. "The 2008 Series was the first step in building a regional team approach so that there would be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure in the Cowichan Valley.”

“The Forum was built around case study applications of the Water Balance Model. These provided the technical foundation for roundtable sharing, exploration and cross-fertilization of ideas on how to implement green infrastructure effectively.”

“Case study applications help build a common understanding of how to achieve runoff-based performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure,” elaborates Rob Conway, Manager, Development Services Division Services, CVRD. “What is unique about our approach is the educational context. Through this process, the design community is gaining an appreciation for protection of ecological values.”

“The educational approach is helping us to identify and empower a core group of local champions who will then have the expertise to apply and advance the water balance approach to land development,” adds Peter Nilsen, Deputy Engineer with the District of North Cowichan. “This building of practitioner capacity encompasses both local government and the development community. Project proponents and reviewers will have a common language.”

“Throughout the 2008 series, our theme and our challenge was to ask participants what will they do better or differently to achieve a shared vision for the Cowichan Valley,” states David Hewetson, Building Inspector with the City of Duncan.

Personal invitations from the Chair of the Regional Board enhanced the profile of the Cowichan Valley Water Balance Model Forum. “When we did an orientation session for the newly elected Board in January 2009, we briefed them regarding the Learning Lunch Series and Forum, and informed them that they are the change agents supporting the New Business As Usual in this region. This resonated,” reports Kate Miller.

Water Sustainability Action Plan Adds Depth to Living Water Smart

Kim Stephens Kim Stephens

“The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia has allowed the Province to leverage partnerships to greatly enhance the profile and resulting impact of Living Water Smart,” states Kim Stephens, an engineer-planner who is the Action Plan Program Coordinator. His 35 years of experience cover the spectrum of water resource and infrastructure engineering.

Kim Stephens has had a leadership role in a series of Provincial initiatives in British Columbia related to water sustainability, rainwater management and green infrastructure. Also, he has been invited to speak on ‘the British Columbia experience’ and make keynote presentations at forums in Australia and throughout North America.

“Released in 2004, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a 'water-centric' approach to community planning and development,” explains Kim Stephens. “The Action Plan comprises program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to better manage land and water resources.”

The Water Sustainability Committee of the BC Water & Waste Association is the managing partner and is responsible for providing leadership, facilitation and organizational services for Action Plan program delivery. The Water Sustainability Committee is a roundtable of organizations that have a specific interest or mission in implementing the Action Plan.

“Living Water Smart provides British Columbians with a vision of what the regions of our province can look like if local governments prepare communities for climate change, choose to be water smart, and strive to achieve settlement change in balance with ecology. If we can get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” continues Kim Stephens.

“The Action Plan partners are playing a key delivery role in two of the five Living Water Smart theme areas, namely: community planning and development; and efficiency, outreach, public awareness. In effect, the Action Plan partners are functioning as the on-the-ground Living Water Smart implementation arm with local government. The in-kind support from local governments is substantial and growing, and means that the Living Water Smart team can focus their work effort on legislative reform.”

"Through regional initiatives such as CAVI...which is the acronym for Convening for Action on Vancouver Island…the Water Sustainability Action Plan is adding considerable depth to Living Water Smart. We have been collaborating with local governments to align local actions with provincial goals expressed in Living Water Smart. We have been doing this through program elements such as the Learning Lunch Seminar Series and Water Balance Model Forums.”

Living Water Smart comprises 45 commitments. Two of these commitments have framed the learning outcomes for the Learning Lunch Seminar Series:

  • 2008 Series: By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits. (p 43 Living Water Smart)
  • 2009 Series: Fifty percent of new municipal water needs will be acquired through conservation by 2020. (p 75 Living Water Smart)

"These are complementary outcomes. The link is water-centric land development standards. By implementing policies and practices that achieve the Living Water Smart vision, water sustainability outcomes are reduced rainwater runoff and less irrigation water use," concludes Kim Stephens.

Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Series, 2008 Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Series, 2008

Living Water Smart: Context for moving from boundaries to commonalities in the Comox Valley

The ultimate goal of Living Water Smart is to establish expectations that, in turn, will influence the form and function of the built environment. If land and water practitioners are then successful in bringing the water for life and livelihoods vision to fruition, this will create a legacy for those who follow in their footsteps.

In 2008, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the City of Courtenay both volunteered to host the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series, in part because of the opportunity it offered to play a leadership role provincially.

Organized under the umbrella of Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, known by the acronym CAVI, the Cowichan Valley series was held during the June – July 2008 period. The Comox Valley series, hosted by the City of Courtenay, then followed during the September – November 2008 period. Participating local governments represented some 250,000 people. The following policy statement in Living Water Smart provided the backdrop for this pilot program.

By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits (page 43, Living Water Smart)

“In 2008, the initial CAVI objective was to test an approach to providing continuing education where people work. The Learning Lunch Series then went beyond that objective because it created the springboard for a regional team approach in both the Comox and Cowichan valleys,” reports John Finnie, CAVI Chair.

According to Kevin Lagan, Director of Operational Services for the City of Courtenay, “Council recognized that a common understanding of challenges and solutions would result in consistent expectations at municipal front counters across Vancouver Island. Council also recognized that hosting the series would have a better payback than selectively sending a few staff to conferences.”

“To be successful, we need to work outside our normal boundaries; and we need to proactively communicate and work with others,” continues Derek Richmond, Manager of Engineering with the City of Courtenay.

“Working with the CAVI team, we designed the Learning Lunch curriculum to help us determine how we can achieve the desired outcomes that flow from the over-arching policy statement on page 43 in Living Water Smart, namely: create liveable communities and protect stream health.”

Kevin Lagan from the City of Courtenay with participants of the 2009 Learning Lunch Series Kevin Lagan from the City of Courtenay with participants of the 2008 Learning Lunch Series

"Man imposes his own boundaries. So, we have an issue of inconsistencies ... or incongruities ... between natural and imposed boundaries which sets up a series of problems. Our challenge is to work around and with boundaries. We would like to shift the paradigm from boundaries to areas of commonality.”

"If we are to have a truly successful regional team approach, we need to think globally and act locally. We need to think of ourselves as a team, not as individuals within silos; and we need to break down boundaries through communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination.”

“In the Comox Valley, we now have a great opportunity to move ahead with implementing the real elements of ‘integrated planning’. We have recognized the need, realized the benefits, talked about examples of where this has happened and we are coming to grips with more clearly defined ways of how to facilitate this on an ongoing and consistent basis.”

“The 2008 Learning Lunch Series set in motion an inclusive process at the ground level that continued with the 2009 Learning Lunch Series, hosted by the Comox Valley Regional District,” concludes Derek Richmond.

Real Estate Foundation aligns efforts with Province to foster ‘green value’ development

Living Water Smart contains a key message – green development makes sense. Fostering new thinking about development leads to more green spaces, more water and fish in the streams, improved community vitality, reduced demand for water, and reduced expenditure on infrastructure.

“The program goals for Living Water Smart and the companion Green Communities Initiative constitute a ‘call to action’ on the part of British Columbians to manage settlement change in balance with ecology,” states Tim Pringle, Director of Special Programs for the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

“The Province has put in place a policy framework that enables local governments to commit to doing business differently: This is what we want our communities to look like in 50 years, and this is what we will do starting now to ensure it happens.”

“Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Initiative must be viewed as an integrated package. Living Water Smart presents the vision, and the Green Communities Initiative provides enabling tools to achieve the vision. The solutions and commitments go beyond what government does. Living Water Smart supports planning that is as much about land as water.”

Together with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Community & Rural Development, the Real Estate Foundation works to advance green value approaches to managing the built environment. Commencing in 2007, the three agencies have co-funded Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, known by the acronym CAVI. “Through CAVI, we are promoting a regional team approach, which attempts to align actions at three scales – provincial, regional and local. The term ‘regional approach’ has been part of our vocabulary for a generation or more, but it has never resonated the way ‘regional team approach’ has resonated this past year.”

“It is revealing that inserting the word team could have such a profound impact on how practitioners view their world. Inclusion of the team word implies there is personal commitment – that is why the regional team approach is fundamentally different than a regional approach.” The team concept also resonates with the notion that it is important to build local government talent to cope with demanding issues pertaining to settlement change.

In order to more fully understand development realities, the Foundation through Tim Pringle has undertaken research about real estate projects in the Mid-Island region and presented it as part of the curriculum for the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series. A key conclusion finds that large-scale real estate development on the east coast of Vancouver Island is a common market, from Cobble Hill to Campbell River. The working paper notes that “Vancouver Island offers large tracts of privately owned land, communities with urban/rural character, and unique natural amenities, in particular access to waterscapes, which attract large-scale development. We have observed that development proposals for complete communities, resort-based and mixed-use developments rely on these assets.”

“The one market concept suggests that communities can choose from among development proposals, and can therefore control their destinies,” continues Tim Pringle. “They need only accept ones that are aligned with community values, that is: the right development in the right place.”

“A key finding from our research is that overnight Green Value development has moved from market-niche to market-share on Vancouver Island. The Real Estate Foundation uses the term Green Value as a generic reference to use and conservation of land and real estate that achieves social and economic goals while minimizing harmful effects on ecological assets. The concept emphasizes a holistic approach managing use and conservation of land.

“The notion of ‘sustainable communities’ begins with a discussion of values that communities declare or reflect as changes occur in their landscapes,” concludes Tim Pringle.

Participants at the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series Participants at the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series

Case Study for Living Water Smart: Demonstrating a Regional Team Approach in the Comox Valley

The Comox Valley is demonstrating a ‘regional team approach’ because a convergence of interests has created an opportunity for all the players to set their sights on the common good, challenge the old barriers of jurisdictional interests, and make water sustainability real. In 2009, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) hosted the second annual Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series.

The 2009 Series was a collaboration of four local governments in the Comox Valley, the Comox Valley Land Trust, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI), the Water Sustainability Action Plan, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Green Infrastructure Partnership and two provincial Ministries.

“The Series theme, Getting Ahead of the Wave, defined what we wished to accomplish in building on the foundation provided by the 2008 Series,” states Kevin Lorette, General Manager of the CVRD’s Property Services Branch. “We view the 2009 Series as our springboard to advance integration of current Comox Valley regional initiatives in 2010. These include a Regional Growth Strategy, Regional Sustainability Strategy, Regional Water Supply Strategy and Regional Sewer Master Plan.”

“The Comox Valley is a desirable place in which to live. The resulting development activity and population growth is putting extreme pressure on our regional water resources, both in terms of protecting water supply sources and preventing rainwater runoff impacts in streams and rivers. It is therefore in the best interests of valley residents that the four local governments and the Comox Valley Land Trust collaborate to achieve an integrated watershed approach to settlement, which was the end goal of the Learning Lunch Series,” continues Marc Rutten, CVRD Senior Manager of Engineering.

“From the bulk water supply perspective, a goal is to balance the need to save money on water system infrastructure while ensuring source capacity for continued population growth. Reducing wasteful outdoor water use holds the key to achieving this goal,” adds Michael Zbarsky, CVRD Engineering Analyst.

“Green infrastructure is a means to this end. So, in terms of Win/Win synergies, the way to look at it is that an efficient and effective regional water supply depends on land development practices in all Comox Valley communities achieving common water sustainability objectives.”

“Connecting these dots leads into the relevance of the Comox Valley as a case study on how to meet the commitments and targets in Living Water Smart. One of the targets is that fifty percent of new municipal water needs will be acquired through conservation by 2020.”

“How, and how well we collaboratively deal with water-centric issues, has a bearing on our ability to move forward effectively with integrated implementation on other fronts. Our Water Efficiency Plan, adopted in September 2009, provides a timely illustration of how Comox Valley local governments are now working together at the regional scale in order to come up with consistent implementation strategies at the local scale.”

“Our target is a 27% reduction in total water use by 2014. Getting there goes well beyond the usual indoor water saving measures. It entails accelerating the current momentum for changing what we do on and to the land,” concludes Michael Zbarsky.

Announcing Winners of the Eugene Reimer Middle School Home Water Assessment Competition!

As part of their environmental studies program, grade seven students from the Eugene Reimer Middle School in Abbotsford, B.C. recently participated in a Living Water Smart Home Water Assessment competition. Students were asked to write an essay explaining how they, and their families, live water smart. Authors of the ten top entries received a Living Water Smart bottle and their essays are included below for you to read and enjoy. Great work Eugene Reimer Middle School!

If you’d like to do something similar at your school, please send us a message at [email protected].

Water Waste World
by Akash
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

How am I water smart? I'm water smart by turning off the tap when I am brushing my teeth. I started that when I was 4, since my dad said, "Don't leave the tap on, it costs money." I said, "OK," then ever since I started to turn off the tap.

The other water smart I do is wash the car every month but never in the winter unless we want a frozen carsicle. We use a bucket with soapy water and a trigger hose, never a hose with just a hose. My other water smart is drycleaning our dishes with a little little water on it. I don't do dishes but if I do I'll use my water smart with the dishes.

I'm also water smart at the bathtub, where I take a shower instead of a bath. Also I learnt about a toilet is: If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down. I don't go and waste water, I'm never like that!

Doing water fights are just a water waste world. The last time I did a water fight was when I was 7 and I'm 12 now! One person I know wasted so much water that they had to come to us just to get a drink of water! I was laughing when the tap spurted water and made a flood in their house. And that shows I am water smart.

YOU TOO CAN Save Water
by Jagroop
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

I do a lot of things to save water which I will explain to you in this piece.

One way I save water is by turning the tap off while brushing and while applying soap on dishes. This is a big rule for me because I hate wasting perfectly clean water. By wasting water we also waste money. I also tell my family to turn off the tap if they are not using it. Same thing when we apply soap on dishes. I am trying my best to get used to these habits.

Second way I save a ton of water and a ton is by installing the water saver toilet, and a low flow shower head. We have also noticed we have been saving some money. The brand new water saver toilet flushes 6 litres per flush while the ordinary toilet's average 13 litres per flush. The shower head is also a big water saver. It has three switches: one is for a quick shower, the second is for washing your hair, and last but not least the third switch is for a relaxing shower. All of these switches conserve water. These two necessities are fantastic water savers. I bet everyone will have these necessities by 2012.

Now I will tell you how I save water outside. I conserve water outside by washing my cars on grass and we have a drainage system. When I wash my car on the grass all the dripping water drips onto the grass. That way we don't have to waste our water. You're probably thinking that all the toxins from the car washing soap slither to the grass, but you're wrong. I only use a limited amount of soap when we wash the cars.

The drainage system is excellent too. This year we renovated our yard and we opened up our drainage system so water can go through to the river. We clean our gutters every November so that the water that goes into the drain can be clean. I am pretty sure that 40-50% of the city has a drainage system. Hopefully everyone will, so we can SAVE WATER.

So that is how I save water. Water is really important in this world so everybody should save water! If I can do it you can do it too!

How I am Water Smart is…
by Selina
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

How I am water smart is when I wash the dishes I usually take two pans and fill them up with water. I have one pan to wash and the other to rinse.

When we wash our car we use the nozzle on the hose that when you turn it the water will stop or go; and sometimes when we have to we use a bucket with soapy water and a sponge. When we dump it we usually dump it far away from any drains, grates and all of those that lead to lakes, oceans, seas or ponds.

When I wash my hands or brush my teeth I turn off the tap in between, so I don't waste the water.

For a while my mom and dad put a milk jug in our toilet tank so it will only use some water but then they took it out because it did something that made our toilet not work as well.

On our shower head there is a spin dial on it; some are not used as much but the others get used more to save water.

When I was 9 I painted fish next to drains to tell people that these drains lead to places where fish are.

And because of all these reasons, that is how I am water smart.

How are You Water Smart?
by Arashdeep
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

It depends on how you define water smart. No human really uses resources as sparingly as we should but some are better than others. I don’t try to use less resources, we just use what we need for showers, dishes and other stuff. I know I should try to use less but I just don't. But since we have a small family we use very little water.

We do not use more water than we need, well not more than modern day life requires (which is still quite a lot). We take short showers but our shower releases a lot of water. Our family uses the toilet a lot and I'm sorry to say our toilet is not very water efficient. We don't have a dishwasher and we wash all our dishes by hand and I believe that saves water, but if we had one we would use it instead.

Any item that would make our lives easier my family will use. It may not be the best thing to do in these times but it is what most families do. Inventors are releasing new inventions everyday and most are not energy or water efficient, but some inventors are trying to make the things we do more water efficient. It may not be much but it seems to me this is the only way us humans will improve our efficiency.

Some families are trying to increase their efficiency and I'm proud that some families care enough to try and hope that others will follow in their footsteps. But this is easier said than done and humans are very stubborn once they start using something; is very hard for them to change. We humans have the ability to convince ourselves that whatever we do is right, but it's not. Messing up is what makes people human, but fixing your errors is what makes you great.

by Karan
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

Many people in the world are not water smart, but I am. What is water smart? Water smart is when you use less water. If you take only 5 minutes in the shower then you are water smart.

For example, you should go to the car wash because at the car wash they reuse water every time. If you are using the hose then you waste lots of water.

Second example is you should take less time in the shower because the more time you are in the shower, all the water is not getting reused, it's going into the sea. Just imagine, if you took a half hour shower you just wasted more than 11 two litre bottles.

Last but not least, you should install underground sprinklers. You set the sprinklers on a certain time and they turn off at the time you put it on. If you're using the normal sprinklers then you just turn them on and they keep going until you turn them off.

All I need to say is please be water smart. If you are water smart then you are thinking smart. If you think smart then you are helping our environment.

by Shanelle
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

To conserve water requires that we have the will and the way! My family understands the necessity of being water smart. For too long we have taken our clean water supply for granted. Areas where personally I can contribute to water conservation are Outside use, Bathroom use and while Cleaning.

Gardening and washing vehicles can be done with a limited amount of water. First of all we use an automatic shut off attached to the hose to fill watering cans for watering plants. Also we use a bucket of water with environmental friendly cleaner for washing our vehicles.

We remind each other every day to be aware of our water use in the bathroom. To preserve our water supply we do our best to keep showers short and turn off the water while brushing our teeth. When a leaky faucet is noticed it is soon repaired. Recently our toilet had a leak we didn't know about. My dad replaced it with a properly working, low flow toilet.

The last area where we can save water is while cleaning. One way my family practices this is by instead of using harsh chemicals that go into the drainage system we use vinegar and water to clean different surfaces. Dishes and laundry need to get washed but we wait until we have a full load. This cuts down on the waste of our precious water.

Because our water is such a precious gift that all humans need to continue living it is very important to preserve it. Conserving water is not only good for our ecosystem, it will also help us to save on the water bill. Our goal as a family is to remember that when it comes to water every drop counts!

A Gift of Water
by Bain
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

When you look at water, what do you see? You might see it as a wonderful gift or a thing you don't care about. If you look at water like a gift then you use it like it's your last bit of food. But if you look at water like it's nothing than you probably waste it for no reason. When using water you must treasure it like your child. If you keep using water all the time water won't exist anymore ... We won't exist anymore.

The things I do to be water smart is I have short showers. I only fill up the bath halfway because if you fill your bath almost full you waste a lot of water! One more thing I do is I don't water the grass all the time, which is a big waste, as much as 1000 litres of water a day. That is a lot of fresh water which could be drunk by all of Africa.

Try and use as less water as possible; just remember water is a gift.

by Manreet
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

The ocean is home to millions of animals. Water is not only important to animals in the ocean, but also to humans, animals, and plants on land.

Water is a key to life, so why not try to conserve it by turning the water off when brushing your teeth, or loading the dishwasher instead of washing the dishes separately in the sink, and by turning the hose off when washing your car. A long warm shower may be soothing and relaxing but to the environment it’s just another step towards global warming and water shortages.

Also always keep an eye out for any leaks in taps and pipes in your house. After you are done taking a soothing bath you can use the same water to water the garden. We can reuse gray water.

Water is not only used for taking baths or brushing your teeth it is also used for energy like lights. Without water we would be surrounded by darkness. Humans would have to depend on sunlight and fire for light. We humans take more than we give.

In conclusion humans are the key to wasting water, but they also can be the key to conserving water. Humans should take a step toward saving water.

The Deal with Water Smarts
by Dylan
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

Drip, drip, drip goes the tap that you forgot to turn all the way off after you were finished brushing your teeth. Is this what you call water smart?

North America has the most fresh water than any other place on earth. Of course we take this for granted and without thinking just waste water nonstop. I'm going to tell you some ways that me and my family are being water smart. One way we are keeping water smart is that we have installed low flow taps into all of our sinks. Low flow taps have a mesh of wire covering the tap opening to prevent all the water from just gushing down the drain.

Another way we are being water smart is that we have put bricks in our toilet tanks. When you put a brick in toilet tank, the brick displaces some of the water in the tank. This prevents the tank from filling up all the way. So when you flush the toilet, less water is lost to the sewers which just pump it into the ocean.

One of the most important ways that we stay water smart is that we don't water our lawn in the heat of summer. When people do water their lawns in the summer, most of the water just evaporates into the air. We let the grass wither in the summer and watch it grow back in the fall and spring.

In conclusion, being water smart has worked out fine with my family and it will also work out with everyone. All we need to do is make a goal about it and stick to it. But most importantly we need to ask ourselves, are we water smart?

do your bit
by Meenu
Eugene Reimer Middle School
Abbotsford, B.C.

We only have 3% of pure water in our world, 2% in glaciers and ice and 1% in precipitation. We should start saving water because in the year of 2025 2/3 of the world would be water poor. Everybody can save water in their own way. I save water in my home in many different ways but there are 3 ways that are the most important to me. Number 1: take short showers, 2: while brushing your teeth turn the water off when not in use, and 3: take your car to the carwash for a clean.

Water is a source that keeps almost every living thing alive. It keeps us alive. We use water to clean ourselves. We can save water by taking short showers instead of a bath. A bath takes up more water than a shower. If you take a long shower it is just like taking a bath but if you take a short shower you are using up less water. In 20 minues you can fill up a whole bathtub, which is about 140 litres. In that same time you cannot fill up a whole bathtub using a shower head and in that would be about 20-60 litres of water. So 20 minutes of a bath takes up 140 litres and 20 minutes of a shower only takes up 20-60 litres. The best for us and our world would be to take a short shower.

Brushing your teeth is another way of wasting water but we can be water smart about that too. Turn the water off when not in use. Brush your teeth with the water off and when you need the water make sure it is cold water. Use a mug to rinse out your mouth. Don't rinse your mouth by cupping water in your hands or drinking from the faucet. This wastes just about as much water while you brush. If you have to rinse out your mouth repeatedly, choose a more environmentally friendly toothpaste. These types of pastes use less strong chemicals. Don't use bottled water to brush your teeth, this just wastes natural resources. Rinse out your toothbrush in the remaining water in your mug and remember not under your faucet.

Everybody wants their cars to shine so we give them a great wash. Washing your car from a hose or a bucket uses up more water than a car wash. A car wash uses the same water over and over again. They recycle and reuse water. Many people know about this but still choose to ignore it because it costs money and they also think, "What is better than giving our car a clean without giving money?" People that only think about the loss of their money rarely think about the loss of water we will be having soon. Going to a car wash is the number one thing to do because they reduce, reuse, and recycle.

We all can do a bit for our world and when we combine all these little bits we could prevent water loss in 2025. Taking showers, turning the water off while brushing and taking your car to a car wash are small things we could be doing every day. I am so used to this procedure that I don't realize I am being water smart. Everybody should have a part in this because we don't want to hear 3% of pure water left, we want to hear 100% pure water. But we can't make this happen because we were careless before, so start caring and become water smart.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board’s Water Stewardship Council

In the spring of 2006, three Okanagan regional districts took a major step toward coordinated regional water management by empowering the Okanagan Basin Water Board (Water Board) to convene the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council (The Council). The Council provides balanced and considered advice to the Water Board on basin-wide water issues and works on solutions that reflect the best available science, innovative policy, and consensus approaches. The Council has considerable collective knowledge and expertise, being comprised of more than two dozen members from senior and local government, non-profit and professional organizations, First Nations, UBC Okanagan, and industry.

The Vision of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council is that the Okanagan Basin will have clean and healthy water in sufficient abundance to support natural ecosystems, agricultural lands and high quality of life for perpetuity; accurate, up-to-date water information and scientific knowledge will support community and regional planning; water will be managed in a spirit of cooperation; and a valley-wide ethic of conservation will create a lasting legacy of sustainable water resources for future generations.

For almost three years, the Council focused on learning about different perspectives on water, researching water science and policy, defining water issues, determining which issues are the most critical to resolve, and discussing how best to proceed on those issues. At the request of the Water Board, the Council used the results of this engagement to create the Okanagan Sustainable Water Strategy, a comprehensive guide to water management practices to help us adapt to changing climate and rising water demand, and work toward water sustainability.

The Strategy sets out a long range vision and guiding principles to manage water for decades to come. It brings together an extensive amount of technical information about the Basin and highlights the most important issues facing sustainable water management. The Strategy includes actions designed to protect water at its source, allocate water in times of shortages, manage water demand, ensure sufficient water storage, and identify the best structure for water governance in the Basin.

The Okanagan Water Stewardship Council has proved to be a valuable and worthy endeavor of the Water Board. The Sustainable Water Strategy and other Council initiatives have provided the Board with a road map and a strong foundation for their discussions and decisions about water in the Basin. The Water Board and their Council will continue to work together to protect and enhance quality of life in the Okanagan Basin through sustainable water resource management.

For more information about the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council and the Okanagan Sustainable Water Strategy, please visit

Okanagan Water Stewardship Council Okanagan Basin Water Board

The Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit – helping local government in British Columbia protect groundwater

Groundwater is an important and valuable resource in British Columbia. B.C. residents rely on groundwater for private domestic water use, municipal water, irrigation, agriculture and food production, recreation, industry, and ecosystem health. As surface waters become fully allocated and/or require costly treatment, groundwater has increasingly become the water source of choice.

Local governments play an important role in testing groundwater quality and quantity, protecting aquifers, and maximizing the recharge of water into watersheds. The Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit, an appendix to the Green Bylaws Toolkit (, was developed by the Okanagan Basin Water Board and partners to help local governments fulfill this role.

The Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit outlines actions that local governments can take to protect groundwater centred on five common objectives:

  • Minimize impacts on water sources
  • Sustain aquifers at healthy levels
  • Maximize infiltration
  • Reduce groundwater use
  • Protect groundwater quality

The Toolkit presents the basic principles of groundwater science, outlines the jurisdiction for managing groundwater, and provides practical land use management tools that can be used by local government to support the protection of groundwater resources. It clearly explains each tool, and provides sample policy and bylaw language that can be tailored to each unique area. It also provides case studies that highlight the best practices in groundwater protection already in use by local governments in B.C.

The Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit received financial support from the Gas Tax Innovation Fund and the B.C. Government Infrastructure Planning Grant program. A technical advisory committee of twenty groundwater and policy experts from senior and local government, non-profit organizations, and consulting firms provided direction and reviewed drafts of the Toolkit.

The Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit is available online at:

Fraser Basin Council Collaborates to Promote Protection of B.C.’s Wild Salmon

The Fraser Basin Council continues to lead and support valuable programs aimed at protecting and enhancing salmon diversity and abundance throughout the Fraser River Basin. Of special note this year:

  • A new program is underway in the Fraser Basin to build a better future for fish and fisheries in the Fraser Basin, through inclusive, collaborative partnerships. The Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program is a multi-year initiative. Its vision is: To inspire changes in human behaviour to the benefit of salmonids and the watersheds they depend on. Program goals include: fostering effective communications and governance approaches; protecting and restoring habitat and water; and supporting effective and responsive fisheries management. The program, which began in 2007, is jointly managed by the Fraser Basin Council and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, with funding provided through the Living Rivers Trust Fund and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • Fraser Basin Council recently partnered with the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Langley Environmental Partners Society to launch the Salmon Points Reward Program. Through the program individuals, families, and groups are encouraged to earn and redeem ‘salmon points’. Salmon points are earned for adopting new lifestyle practices such as using greener cleaning products or installing low-flow fixtures; for attending stewardship events; or for helping to promote the message of protecting our salmon and their habitat. Salmon points can be redeemed for a wide range of products from green cleaner, to a personal consultation on natural yard care, to a year-long Grouse Mountain family membership! It is hoped that the Salmon Points Reward Program will empower people, providing an incentive for all British Columbians to create positive change and to help protect B.C.’s wild salmon.

The pilot program is being promoted in the Langley/Fraser Valley area this year and may be expanded throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Basin in time.

For more information about the Salmon Points Reward Program please visit

For more information about some of the other great initiatives that Fraser Basin is involved in, please visit

Government Responds to Drought

A very low snow pack this past winter, combined with a dry spring and summer, resulted in drought conditions across much of southern British Columbia during the late summer months.

To address rising concerns, a Drought Working Group, including representatives from the Ministry’s of Environment, Agriculture and Lands, and Healthy Living and Sport, as well staff from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, were called into action.

As Streams in the Thompson-Nicola watershed reached record lows, it became evident that voluntary water conservation measures were not going to provide enough water for both human use and aquatic ecosystem needs. Monitoring on the Nicola River above Nicola Lake showed that flows were too low to allow Kokanee salmon to enter from the lake and reach spawning grounds. Already hard hit by the 2003 drought, this population needed protection.

Most water licensees on the upper Nicola collaborated in voluntary conservation measures and ceased irrigating. Two licensees provided water from their storage lake to supplement river flows. However, even with these additional inputs, more water was required to increase base flow.

Under the Water Act, water licenses are managed by the “First in Time, First in Right” principle, meaning that the older licences take precedence over the newer ones. The drought conditions we experienced this year prompted the need to enact Section 9 of the Fish Protection Act. Section 9 was enacted on August 19, 2009, allowing for the temporary regulation of water users, regardless of date of precedence under the Water Act.

After careful consideration of agricultural needs, it was decided that this particular situation required a Ministerial Order under Section 9. An Order was issued to a specific water licensee on September 17, 2009, requesting the curtailment of water diversions until September 30; unless river flows increased above 350 litres per second (the safe level for fish populations). The following day, kokanee were seen in the river! Reports indicated that several hundred kokanee started spawning in the upper Nicola on September 23, 2009.

The drought we experienced this summer reaffirmed the need for flexibility in our water laws. A review of B.C.’s Water Act is an area of focus for the Living Water Smart Team. To learn more about the Water Act Modernization project and how you can become involved visit the Living Water Smart blog.

Abbotsford Groundwater Forum Tackles Local Groundwater Sustainability and Governance Issues

Water users, agencies, and organizations with a mandate in water came together on February 25, 2024 for the Abbotsford Groundwater Forum. The event was held to raise awareness of the issues related to groundwater protection and use in the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer; to discuss governance options and initiatives; and to lay the foundation for further work on a groundwater protection strategy for Abbotsford. The forum followed an initial meeting of more than one hundred participants with a technical interest in local groundwater held in Abbotsford in April 2007.

The event, facilitated by John Janmaat of UBC Okanagan, and Moe Gill, Deputy Mayor of Abbotsford, included presentations from key water and health specialists, groundwater researchers, industry representatives, and federal and provincial government staff.

The Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer is the largest unconfined aquifer in south-western B.C. and straddles the Canada/US border. It is the only source of water for more than 100,000 people and is used for drinking, agriculture, and industry. Pressures from climate change, land use, aquifer depletion, and lack of groundwater licensing have caused growing concern for the aquifer’s water quality and its ability to meet future supply demands.

Industry representatives from the Aggregate Producers Association of B.C., Sustainable Poultry Farming Group, B.C. Raspberry Council, and the B.C. Automotive Recyclers group shared their challenges and successes with respect to protecting the aquifer and effecting change. Staff from local and provincial government discussed their role and responsibilities in protecting the groundwater resource and provided useful perspective on the issues.

The forum increased awareness of aquifer issues in the community and engaged stakeholders in a dialogue on their key interests in the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer. Participants agreed that the best approach to addressing emerging issues will involve a combination of education, enforcement, and voluntary actions. Living Water Smart will play a key role in ensuring the success of these actions long term.

Other recent Water Smart Actions by British Columbians include:

We have saved up to replace all our appliances with more efficient ones: this includes a high-efficiency, front-loading washer, and a high efficiency dishwasher. When running water (to get colder or hotter), we collect this water in pitchers (or other containers) and use this for watering plants. When we are "just us" at home, we follow the "if it's yellow…let it mellow" approach to flushing toilets.
Carol G. Arnold,
We have been upgrading toilets, taps, sprinkler systems, etc for years and are always very water conscious – only thing left is that front load washer – which I can’t afford yet!
Tim Janzen
My family has done well in terms of watering the lawn and garden at the proper times, and only when required to keep the grass a shade of green because green grass on my lawn doesn’t really help the fish in the river, or the infrastructure to get the water to my property. We still have room to improve but when we look to upgrade we will incorporate water smart measures as time and finances permit.
Duane Wells,
We have already removed about a third of our lawn and replaced it with a xeriscape using drought tolerant plants. We will be replacing more lawn this summer. We have installed a low flow irrigation system for the garden and for the little bit of lawn that is left and we only water early in the day.
Brian Nuttall
Adding a low flow shower head was important to help save water, but even more, our shower head has a lever to allow us to reduce flow even more while lathering etc to reduce use even more. We have been amazed how much this has reduced water use and especially how much it has reduced our hot water bill. Everyone can do this.
Norm Bilodeau
Prince George
The home water assessment was a very enlightening exercise. I learned that the washing machine is using a lot of water for the manner in which I am using it. In a one person household I don't have a lot of laundry and as a result did small loads to separate colours and water temperature etc. I will now mix whites and light colours and wash only in cold. The dark colours I will try and do every 2 weeks to make a larger load to save water/electricity.
Nadeen Johansen
Recently in our home we have replaced 13 year old toilets with new low flow toilets, and have bought a high efficiency front loader washer.
Kathy Davidson,
Just found your Living Water Smart information, I think it is fabulous. In my home, a secondary suite I rent, I took advantage of my municipality’s water conservation kits for the home and retrofitted all my taps with aerators, my shower with a low flow shower head, and my toilet with a bladder (because I can't install a low flow toilet, it isn't my place). I also got my landlords an outdoor water kit with a spring loaded spray gun, a timer for the sprinkler and a rain gauge.
Tacey Weldon
North Vancouver
We recently built a new home and took measures to ensure our water usage was kept down. We installeddual flush toilets (3 and 6 litre) in all bathrooms. We replaced our old washing machine with a new front load washer. As we live by a lake, and have a very high tech septic system it is important to us to be aware of our precious water supply. It is not to be taken for granted and usage plays a big part of our maintenance of our septic system.
Brenda Hoffner
Jaffray, B.C.
Thanks for giving us an opportunity to tell you what we have done and are planning to do to improve our water efficiency. Recently we've upgraded our kitchen faucet and made sure it was the aerator type and we also upgraded the toilet to a 6L low flow type in the bathroom. We are planning a complete renovation of the bathroom which will include a low flow shower head and low flow faucet and our current low flow toilet.
Christian Saint-Pierre
Kamloops B.C.
Some changes we have made for efficient water use in our home include:
  1. We use a water bucket to bathe instead of using the shower.
  2. We do our laundry only once a week in very large loads and use cold water.
  3. We don't water our lawn and we let it go brown in the summers.
  4. We use nitrogen and phosphate free dish soap.
  5. We don't use a dishwasher. Instead we fill our sink with cold water and wash our dishes once we have a large stack.
  6. We make sure that none of our taps leak water.
  7. We wash our car only a few times per year and only at a car wash.
  8. In the summer, we only water our garden during the morning and evening.
  9. We use organic fertilizers and non-chemical pest controls in our garden.
Amandeep Bal
Surrey, B.C.
I wanted to share with you the changes my family and I have made for efficient water use in our home. We have realized what a precious commodity our water supply really is and as a result, have incorporated many water saving tactics into our daily lives. After successfully completing the Water Smart Home Assessment survey, we realized we were already doing many of the 3 water drops water saving methods.
Balpinder Bal
Port Alberni
I have posted a reminder note by the bathroom faucets to remind me not to keeping the water running when brushing my teeth or shaving. I aIso switched the old, outdated shower faucet to a newer, low-flow one.
Brian Chow
Courtenay, B.C.
I switched from doing laundry on a regular weekly basis to only doing it when the hamper is full. I found that a weekly laundry schedule is inefficient, as there are often not enough clothes to justify a washing load.
Brian Chow
Courtenay, B.C.
Not only have these water conserving methods helped us reduce our water bill, but are also helping the environment and we see it as a win-win situation. I will be forwarding your website link to my friends so that they can become more conscious of ways they can conserve water.
Balpinder Bal
Port Alberni
We have just moved to a larger house, we are not in the habit of sprinkling at all. We live on Vancouver Island and we get enough rain to water the lawn!
Beverly Nelson
Campbell River
As far as watering the lawn – what for? That’s what the rain is for! I don’t believe in watering all the time. I’ve seen other people [watering their lawns] and think it’s a HUGE waste of water. It really ticks me off when I see people watering at noon on a hot sunny day!
B.A. Nelson
Campbell River
We are more and more aware of our water use at our house. My daughter is way more aware of all the water waste than I could remember when I was her age. Brushing our teeth without the tap on is something we always do. We rarely take a bath, always showers and with my daughter and I both having long hair we wash our hair every two days instead of every day, not only to save water but to save the natural oils in our hair.
B.A. Nelson
Campbell River
Unfortunately as renters there are some things we don't have control over… (like energy efficient appliances) however we have discovered little tricks that we can control, like displacing water in the toilet by adding some bricks so less water is used.
Crystal Denham
Brentwood Bay, B.C.
We have instituted the “if its yellow, let it mellow and if its brown, flush it down” rule. This week, as suggested by our earth day calendar, we are getting a bucket to reuse grey water in the shower and purchasing a low flow shower nozzle.
Crystal Denham
Brentwood Bay, B.C.