Since 2013, when the District of Invermere joined the Columbia Basin Trust Water Program, there has been an increased focus on lowering water consumption within the town of Invermere.
This year the District took that one step further, hiring Andrea Smillie as the Water Smart Ambassador to lead education and water conservation efforts throughout the community. Ms. Smillie is the first Water Smart Ambassador for Invermere who will focus her efforts on outdoor water usage, specifically residential irrigation which accounts for nearly half of residential water usage during the summer months and significantly influences the peak demand.
Ms. Smillie said that the key will be to increase education for residential property owners on ways to reduce their summertime water consumption for gardens and lawns in order to decrease the amount of water used for irrigation which reduces the overall stress on the water system.
Part of her work entails hosting outreach booths in hopes of people signing up for irrigation assessments on their properties. Essentially, these assessments allow her to provide property owners with the information they need to maximize the efficiency of their water consumption when watering their gardens and lawns.
She said that having an irrigation assessment isnt absolutely necessary but given that its free, its a great way to learn more about your personal water consumption.
Its pretty great as a homeowner to have someone whos been trained in this to come onto your property and assess your soil and property, she said. Some people will be doing it pretty effectively and its nice to know youre doing it effectively as well so I dont think theres any downside to having an assessment done on your system.
Another component to the program for Ms. Smillie will be bylaw education for town residents. In this, she will be surveying neighbourhoods to make sure there arent homes watering outside the acceptable hours. If caught not complying with the bylaw, she will be putting a yellow reminder flag on the lawn as a reminder to respect the bylaw put in place to conserve water.
Since the programs inception three years ago, the District of Invermere has achieved a 21 per cent decrease in gross community water demand. Ms. Smillie said that the benefits for these water conservation efforts will extend beyond the towns water system.
I think it will be saving people money and hopefully will be saving a lot of water, she said, noting that they discovered people were using three times as much water as they actually needed. Were looking into the future at this point. Were trying to stay resilient to climate change so that is kind of on the radar for Invermere.
Ms. Smillie held one of the outreach booths last week at the Canadian Tire and will be hosting another this Friday, June 10th at Sobeys for people to come out and sign up for free assessments.