By Breanne Massey
Special to the Pioneer
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) has tapped into water conservation in Spur Valley and has successfully reported a 25 per cent decrease in residential water usage in the area between 2016 and 2019.
“There are a number of considerations that factor into water consumption rates, including everything from leaks to weather so it is difficult to precisely quantify (why this initiative has been successful),” said Brian Funke, RDEK engineering services manager.
“However, the summer of 2017 and 2018 were very dry compared to 2019, so outdoor watering, which is a large water consumer, was much lower in the region,” Mr. Funke said. “In addition, the recent move to consumption-based metering likely contributed to a reduction in overall water use.”
While Spur Valley ranks similarly in water usage to other areas in the Columbia Valley, according to Mr. Funke, the routine monitoring in the area is geared toward identifying leaks or unaccounted changes to the water system that will both conserve resources, and financial reserves over time.
In the recent Spur Valley water system newsletter to the community, the RDEK indicated that consumption-based billing has been in effect for roughly 18 months and the RDEK expects to save money that can be transferred to reserves over time. However, it remains unclear what those metrics look like at this stage.
“It is too early to tell as this is part of our detailed budgeting process for the coming year,” explained Mr. Funke. “One of the factors that will affect how much may be placed into reserves is assessing the budget impacts to the end of 2019, and then looking ahead to the coming year-to-five years to identify potential operations and maintenance costs in addition to any capital work that is projected.
“We are just beginning our budgeting for the 2020-2024 Five Year Financial Plan, which is expected to be presented to the Board and public in February and adopted by the Board in March.”
He added that tracking water consumption might be a routine part of metering, but the goal is to conserve water.
“One priority for us over the coming year, and that is already underway, in Spur Valley is to identify sources of water loss within the community, for example leaks within the distribution system and unmetered water,” he concluded.