Water Stewardship

 

Water Stewardship Task Force

Water Stewardship, Energy and Affordability were identified as key focus areas by the 2009 City Council.   By 2012, new priorities were set and the Water Stewardships Task Force was disbanded.

Accomplishments in 2010

In 2010 the Water Stewardship Task Force published a set of questions and answers in the Rossland Telegraph about water metering and conservation.  That article is available at: http://rosslandtelegraph.com/node/6495  and portions of it are replicated here:

Sustainability Update: Sara Golling on the Water Stewardship Task Force

Rossland Telegraph: July 22, 2010

Q:           It's been a wet, cold spring ... why worry about water?

WSTF:   Not every spring is this wet. Water expert Hans Schreier has called Rossland's water supply "precarious" -- that's because we depend on small creeks that are fed entirely by precipitation, and precipitation (along with just about everything else -- have you looked at the price of pine nuts lately?) is becoming increasingly unpredictable.   If we are in the habit of using water extravagantly, then when we do have a shortage of it because of a low-snow winter and a dry spring and summer -- we would use so much that there would be nothing left in the streams. (That already happens sometimes.) So we want to encourage everyone to use water more carefully -- even when we seem to have lots!

Q:           Why does everyone have to get a water meter now? We lived for years here just fine without water meters.

WSTF:   When everyone in town is on water meters, the City can get a much better idea of how much water is being lost to leaks from our old pipes.    Also, being on a water meter is a great way to get people to stop wasting water as thoughtlessly as we all tend to do -- it has been proven that water meters reduce water usage significantly. We all become more aware how much we use when it's recorded, and we have to pay for it. 

Q:           So, you're saying I waste water?

WSTF:   Chances are you do -- most of us do.

Q:           How?

WSTF:   Do you do any of these things:

·         have an old toilet that isn't low-flush?
·         let the water run in the washbasin while you soap up your hands?
·         let the water run in the basin while you brush your teeth?
·         have a top-loading washing machine?
·         wash each item of clothing every single time you wear it?
·         launder your sheets and/or towel s every time you use them?
·         Have deep baths instead of showers?
·         have long, luxurious showers?
·         have a swimming pool or a hot tub?
·         wash your car?
·         sprinkle your nice green lawn for more than 20 minutes at a time?

Q:           Why should we have to pay for water anyway? It should be free. It comes out the sky!

WSTF:   You don't actually pay for the water. You pay a small portion of what it costs to collect the water, to pay for the pipes that bring it to the treatment plant, to pay for the treatment plant that makes the water safe to drink, to pay for the pipes that deliver the water to your home, and to pay for maintaining and replacing all that infrastructure and the wages of the people who do the work for us. It would cost more if we had to do all that for ourselves, individually -- our water system is really a co-operative effort. We all pool some funds to accomplish something that we need, that wouldn't make sense to try to do as individuals in a compact city like this. 

Q:           Why should I pay for treating water that I just use to flush my toilet and water the garden? The dog drinks out of the toilet, but nobody else does!
 
WSTF:   Good question. Some buildings are now being designed to collect rainwater from the roof for flushing toilets and watering gardens. You could bury a big huge tank in your yard, and run a pipe from your roof ... in some places, building codes now require people to catch and store a certain volume of precipitation.    More on this later! Meanwhile, let's try to cultivate a culture of being thrifty with our communal resources, like water, and a realization that giving and sharing are more fun than trying to hog it all.

 

Accomplishments in 2009

Recommendation to Council to incorporate $41,500 into the 2009 capital budget for stream monitoring

In early 2009, the Water Stewardship Task Force recommended to Council that Rossland should monitor the flows of our three main supply creeks for a year.  This recommendation was passed by Council on April 14, 2009.

The rational for the recommendation was linked to the lack of any accurate baseline data at all on the quantity and timing of our water flows in our supply creeks.  The WSTF believed that obtaining such baseline data as critical for creating a useful plan for managing Rossland's water resource, and attempting to rehabilitate or maintain downstream health as well.  Once flow data has been obtained for one year, it can be compared with the data from Big Sheep Creek, which is monitored continually.  If the flows appear to have a close correlation with each other, then we can in future use the Big Sheep Creek data to indicate the likely flows in our own creeks.

This project is now under the purview of the City.

Streamkeepers Event

On October 9th, 2009, Red Mountain hosted the first Rossland Streamkeepers event organized by the Water Stewardship Task Force.  The Rossland Secondary School Grade 6 and 7 classes enjoyed a morning of watershed and environmental education related to our watershed.  This event was hosted by Red Mountain Resort and was funded in part by the Columbia Basin Trust.  Representatives of the Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society offered a variety of lessons based on the Pacific Streamkeepers Training Modules and Water Stewardship Task Force, discussed environmental issues ranging from invasive weeds to green building design.

Stream of Dreams

On October 22nd, 2009, MacLean School students participated in a Stream of Dreams event organized by the Water Stewardship Task Force.  The children learned that all drains lead to fish habitat and what should and should not be flushed down drains.  The children were then given fish to paint and the fish have been assembled into a beautiful mural on the fence of the school.

Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM)

The Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) project was a ten-month mapping project funded by the Columbia Basin Trust ($17,000) undertaken by the Water Stewardship Task Force.  The goal of the project was to collect and provide accurate and current SHIM baseline data from Topping Creek, Hanna Creek and South Murphy Creek to the WSTF, City and other partners. 

The WSTF identified the lack of current baseline data as a key challenge to making recommendations regarding the watershed. Completing SHIM mapping is a first step in filling in these knowledge gaps. This project will contribute to future projects including water quality monitoring, in depth fish habitat assessments and a community watershed management plan.  The project fostered partnerships among stakeholders, the Task Force, and residents. Many stakeholders have assisted in project development, including Selkirk College, Red Mountain Ventures, Friends of the Rossland Range, Streamkeepers, and Taara Environmental.

Three local consultants were hired to undertake the fieldwork.  In 2009, the team completed mapping of Murphy Creek drainage and a portion of the Topping Creek drainage (approximately 17 km of stream).  Due to snow conditions and instrument failure, the remainder of the mapping was completed in 2010.