Letter: Go further with water conservation

I think we need to go far further with water conservation than just implementing reactive restrictions during drought, writes Graham Watt.

With respect to the thoughtful letter from Gord Nichols in the July 1 Gazette, I agree with the need to understand the science before moving forward with restrictions. However, from my understanding of the science I think we need to go far further with water conservation than just implementing reactive restrictions during drought.

The key issue is that the aquifer is directly connected to surface water. As the letter stated, the aquifer levels have not been declining and are in general recharged with every freshet. But every drop that we use for irrigating lawns, washing driveways or other outdoor uses is a drop not returned to the river as cool, clean groundwater base flow when the fish and water users need it most.

While the aquifer may still provide all the water needed to keep the pumps going (although at a greater cost), the aquifer is demonstrably less able to provide discharge to the rivers in late summer, and in some cases the river begins “losing” to the groundwater in response to the lower water table near community wells.

So the total picture of aquifer sustainability includes not only whether we are able to keep pumping, but also the effect on the river ecosystem, downstream water users, and recreational users who will soon find their boats dragging over rocks.

In terms of climate change, longer growing seasons and less snowpack means the rivers will continue declining, potentially reaching several weeks of low to zero flows by the 2050s—please see the report “Sustaining the Flow” on the kettleriver.ca web site.

When we have an early spring and a forecasted hot summer, we should be considering water restrictions even earlier in the year, coupled with education and outreach about water conservation.

For instance, gardeners can radically increase the soil’s field capacity by applying compost and mulch, which also reduces evaporative losses from the soil. Veggie gardens and flower beds can easily be watered with drip and micro-spray irrigation that requires a fraction of the pressure of conventional sprinklers, providing a bonus increase to plant health.

And down the road, we need to pursue greywater irrigation options for trees, shrubs and perennials to keep our gardens lush and productive—one of many things we can learn from California’s drought.

Graham Watt, Grand Forks

 

Just Posted

Minor injuries in car, semi accident near Greenwood

Road conditions were likely a factor in the Friday morning crash.

Air advisory, open burn ban issued for Grand Forks

The burn ban will be in effect for two days.

Bucket truck, car collide in Highway 3 accident

The Thursday morning accident near Grand Forks slowed traffic for nearly three hours.

Man spotted with shotgun in East Trail leads to weapons discovery

RCMP recover numerous weapons and stolen items after search on Fifth Ave.

Skier caught in backcountry avalanche near Rossland

‘The man was lucky he had the ‘A-Team’ of ski patrol people able to respond as quickly as they did,’ says Rossland rescue spokesperson

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Most Read