While it may seem a bit frivolous to work to conserve water in
a community as water-blessed as Whistler, it is a necessity. It is time to come
to grips with the fact that clean, sustainable water is a responsibility, not a
right. Talk to someone in Sudan. They certainly will not look at water as a
right like many North Americans do.
With our chain of five sparkling lakes, numerous rivers, creeks
and streams, as well as a municipal water system that efficiently delivers some
of the highest-quality drinking water in the world to our taps, it’s easy to
think of water as an infinite commodity to be used — and often abused.
Whistler is using 95 litres per capita per day more than our target. Whistler’s
dedicated dripbusters — citizens, stakeholders and business folks —
are working hard and acting to ensure our water supply continues to be fresh
and abundant into the future through innovation, conservation and
Water has many roles in our resort community; it is a primary
indicator of ecosystem health and supports a wealth of biodiversity in the form
of native species; it supplies humans with the primary source of life for
health, wellness and also recreation. Water is one of the factors which helps
define Whistler as a divine destination.
In B.C. we use about 490 litres per person per day — not
including industrial or agricultural use of water — which we all
indirectly rely on as well. Usually, in the home, toilets will use 30 per cent
and about another 30 per cent is needed for bathing. According to Environment
Canada, just less than three per cent of potable water is used for drinking.
In 2007, Whistler treated and sent out approximately 4.9
billion litres of water, of which 4.76 billion litres was potable. The
remaining amount was used directly from wells (non-potable) for irrigation
purposes on playing fields. Per capita daily water use is 520L/person/day,
substantially higher than B.C.’s average. While the per capita result is also
above Whistler’s recommended target of 425 L, the per capita result is
decreasing on a one year and three year basis.
B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner acknowledged the crucial
role water has to play in the province when he introduced “Living Water Smart
– B.C.’s Water Plan” this summer. The plan is a blueprint for cultural,
environmental, industrial, community and agricultural change that will help
safeguard the province’s water resources into the future. Drawing on a variety
of policy measures, including planning, regulatory change, education, and
incentives like economic instruments and rewards, the plan commits to new
actions and builds on existing efforts to protect and keep B.C.’s water healthy