Water Conservation on Saturna: An Information Paper Offered by SIPOA
The Saturna Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) is committed to preserving and protecting the water resources of Saturna Island. The water quantity and quality challenges we face on Saturna resulting from of our use of water are complex and challenging to resolve. Given government structure, regulations can only do so much and there are few incentives available to retrofit our homes to reduce the demand on water sources. However, the cause of these challenges - how we use water - is easy to fix by all of us when we conserve water.
SIPOA hopes that these notes will highlight some of the water conservation tips relevant for all residents and visitors to the island.
The importance of protecting our water resource cannot be overstated, and understanding the sources of our water supply can support our determination to contribute to its protection. Groundwater (wells) is the major source of potable water on Saturna. Yes, it rains a lot on the island during the winter but our summers usually have long periods of drought so our supply is not endless.
In addition to private groundwater wells, Saturna has four organized water systems varying in size from about 10 to 170 connections. Three of these systems are private and one is CRD operated. With the exception of the CRD reservoir, these systems are on community wells.
Rainwater capture is also being used to supplement water supply. Many new homes on Saturna are incorporating rainwater capture for home use and many existing homes are supplementing their wells with additional rainwater storage for the dry summers. At present, while the Islands Trust has mandated rainwater capture for all new homes at East Point (Bylaw 99), the CRD still considers these systems an "unconventional water source" and their building inspector requires an additional engineering inspection before providing a License of Occupation. However, local contractors have experience with these systems and can be of help with the planning and installation. For additional information on government requirements, please go to www.sipoa.ca for Islands Trust and Capital Regional District regulations.
It's vital for each of us to become pro-active in protecting our shared water supply. We can each incorporate conservation into our way of life so that clean fresh water will be available now and into the future.
Simply stated, water conservation, using water more efficiently, or reducing consumption where you can, helps to protect the resource now and for the future. And, it is easy. With minor changes to the way you may be doing things now, or the equipment you use, you can reduce water consumption in your home. Moreover, the benefits of efficient water use techniques and equipment apply as equally to users of private wells and septic disposal systems as they do to those on the Boot Cove Lyall Harbour Water System. And, while most of these ideas are not new, it is useful to be reminded of them because the best protection of our water resource comes from our lifestyle choices.
If you are purchasing, building, renovating or visiting a home on Saturna, please consider the following tips:
Bathroom use accounts for about 65% of water used inside one's home.
• Choose variable flush or low flush toilets or replace old ones; you will save many litres per flush. Earlier standard toilets use 13 litres per flush; low flush toilets use 6 liters. The new variable flush ones use water only as long as you hold the handle down.
• Install a low-flow shower head; this can cut shower water use in half.
• Put a bucket under the shower head to collect water while it is getting hot; this water can be used to water your plants.
• Take short showers - no more than three minutes is one recommendation or better yet, shower with a friend.
• Turn the sink tap off while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face.
• Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket or flush it unnecessarily (if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown flush it down).
• Choose a low-flow "Energy Star" dishwasher when replacing or purchasing one; newer ones cut water use by 25% and cost the same.
• Only run your dishwasher when it is completely full and use the economy cycle whenever possible.
• Install a low-flow faucet aerator on your sink, which can cut water use in half
• Do not let the faucet run when rinsing dishes or cleaning fruits and vegetables and if possible, use a dish pan in your sink to collect water (if non greasy, this is great water for your plants).
• When buying or replacing a new clothes washing machine purchase a water-saving model. These save up to 40 % of the water used.
• Wash only full loads in the clothes washer and if you use cold water you also save on energy costs.
• For a limited time BC Hydro has rebates on washers. Check out their website at www.bchydro.com.
Leaks can be costly. A leak of one drop per second wastes about 10,000 litres of water per year.
• Fix leaking faucets. More often leaks are caused by a worn out washer that costs pennies to replace.
• Insulate your hot water heater; you will get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.
• Check the seal on your toilets. Older models often leak. Replacing an older toilet or replacing a leaky seal will save significant amounts of water.
Outdoor Planting and Watering
In the summer, our dry time of year, outdoor uses of water can add up to 50 % of your water use. Environment Canada studies show that as much as half of outdoor use is wasteful.
• Remember what your mother said - use a $5.00 hole for a $1.00 plant; in other words, if you garden, add two to four inches of organic material to the soil. Greater soil depth will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
• Use low flow targeted sprinklers or a low-flow irrigation hose next to the roots of your plants. It is surprising how a little water goes a long way. And please don't over-water your garden. This causes yellow leaves or poor plant health and over-watering is a big water waster in the summer
• Check your irrigation system regularly for any leaks and fix them.
• To reduce evaporation loss, water early in the morning; watering early is good for reducing mold and black spot which are common on the coast.
• Be sure your hose has an automatic shutoff nozzle to ensure water does not keep running when you finish watering, or better yet, turn off the outdoor water faucet each time you water.
• Please do not water your lawn. It is natural for them to get brown in the summer.
• Collect rain water in a barrel or other large container that is outfitted with a spigot and a cover to use for watering your garden. Costco has non potable 1000 litre barrels for sale online for $149.
• Avoid washing your car using well water.
Maintaining your well
If you are replacing your well pump, purchase a low flow pump (it will reduce both energy and water consumption).
• For existing wells, raise the level of your well pump to about 10 feet below the surface. Shallower pumps tend to reduce saline intrusion.
• Consider installing a douse valve and meter with an automatic shut-off for leak detection.
• Install a storage tank on your well system to buffer water demand during the dry months of summer.
And, remember, if you are leaving the island for several months you probably need to turn off your well pump. If you are on a tank-supplied system, turn off your supply line whenever you leave the island for more than a day. But, don't forget to let our Fire Chief know where to find your switch or supply tap in the event of a fire!
SIPOA is a registered non-profit society. If you wish more information or want to get involved, please join us. You will be welcome. You can write to us at P.O. Box 21, Saturna Island, BC, V0N 2Y0, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.sipoa.ca.