Watering restrictions are in place for Castlegar.

Castlegar encouraging residents to water smart this summer

Water Smart ambassador and water meters are aiding Castlegar residents with water conservation.

Summer is finally here and with dry conditions prevailing water usage, restrictions and conservation becomes something that everyone needs to think about.

Starting June 2, the City of Castlegar introduced outdoor watering restrictions, like it does every year. The watering restrictions are primarily put in place to spread out the peak demand to the water system that occurs during the summer. Residents are only permitted to do outdoor watering and car washing between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. and then again between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. every second day. Residents with odd numbered street addresses water on odd calendar dates and residents with even addresses water on even calendar dates. Residents who use a water regulating system such as timers and underground sprinklers are exempt as long as they water between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on alternating days.

“The whole demand system is built on the peak demand,” explained Castlegar civic works director Chris Barlow. “If there were no watering restrictions i.e. odd day, even day watering, if everyone was watering on the same day, that would drive up what our peak demand is. That peak demand is used on all the calculations for reservoir sizing, treatment facility sizing, etc.” Having the restrictions in place helps keep the distribution system healthy, potentially extending its life span.

The restrictions surrounding the hours of the day that you can water are based around the best times for the most effective watering. “When you water in the middle of the day, so much is lost due to evaporation and transpiration that it is not actually achieving anything,” said Barlow. “It also helps with conservation.”

Encouraging conservation was one of the reasons behind the city’s decision to switch to water meters as statistics showed that Castlegar had a higher rate of water usage per capita than most cities in BC.

Castlegar residents have a tool in place to help them with their water usage — the Water Smart Ambassador.

The Water Smart program is a Columbia Basin Trust initiative that Castlegar and about 25 other cities have become partners in. Its goal is to reduce peak water use by 20 per cent throughout the Columbia Basin. For Castlegar, this meant hiring a seasonal ambassador that would promote the city’s objective of conservation. The ambassador works with residents on their watering routines and can help detect leaks using data gathered by their water meters.

“It has been a great program for a number of reasons, for conservation, its great to have someone out on the street that can talk to people and give them a resource to talk about effective watering,” said Barlow. “It has been even more useful now that we are going to the universal metering program. It gives the people that see on their water bill that they have above average consumption an avenue to see what might be going on. They can make adjustments before we go actually go to metered billing.”

Suzz Bergler, this year’s ambassador, has already detected over 25 homes with leaks in their water systems. Correcting these leaks will result in conserving 5483 cubic meters per month. “Small leaks can really add up over time,” explained Bergler. “Water meters are really a great tool to be able to isolate and find leaks. We wouldn’t have known about these leaks without meters.”

When Bergler provides a water assessment, she looks at things at the property like the type of soil, exposure to the sun, its grade and slope along with the types of sprinklers the resident is using and the volume they put out. She then uses that information to customize a watering plan.

Residents who choose to have a water assessment will receive a free water timer and rain gauge as well as an entry into a monthly drawing for a rain barrel. Residents having assessments in August will also be entered into a drawing for a composter. To set up an assessment contact Bergler at 250-304-5275 or waterambassador@castlegar.ca.