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Rainwater capture feasible, but not economically viable

A municipal report found that new infrastructure would be too costly for the return



While rainwater capture might be feasible in Whistler it is certainly not economically viable.

Whistler has some of the lowest water costs in the province, so the payback time for the costly capture infrastructure for single-family homes - about $5000 for the technology and installation - would be a quite a long time, according to Nicolette Richer, environmental coordinator for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

"As of right now, no, it is not financially feasible, however that could change as well," she said, noting that it could be feasible if Whistler moved to value-based pricing.

She added that it is still important for Whistler to start considering building infrastructure in the future for rainwater capture.

"We do need to consider water conservation," Richer said. "Since the building code doesn't mandate rainwater capture but does allow for it, it's good to have municipalities consider this as an option and Whistler's regards to infrastructure and the way we're going to build buildings, think five, 10, 15 and 20 years out."

The RMOW conducted a study, paid for through a Ministry of Community and Rural Development Infrastructure grant, to test the viability for rainwater harvesting in town. The prevailing thought was that because Whistler is loaded with snow and other natural water resources, harvesting technology wouldn't be viable, but the study found that it is "very viable," according to Richer.

She noted that a 3000 litre cistern would accommodate 100 per cent of the household's flushing needs as well as some irrigation needs. It would also save the municipality in water treatment costs, and would place fewer burdens on the municipal potable water supply.

Richer noted in her Jan. 26 report to council that water consumption has been rising steadily over the last three years, with each person using about 580 litres person per day - 155 litres more than the Whistler2020 target of 425 litres per person per day.

For more on this story pick up the Pique next week.