MIKE DAVIES: Taking care of a precious resource

Water plentiful on south Island, but let's not take it for granted

We’re extremely fortunate here on the South Island to have a plentiful, seemingly unlimited supply of water.

Due largely to the foresight of the people who lived here 100 years ago, when they decided to keep water a public resource rather than have it privately owned, we continue to live a life of luxury when it comes to this precious resource.

The construction of a reservoir and flowline around the holdings of the Esquimalt Waterworks Company – a feat of engineering that would be awe-inspiring even by today’s standards – put us on the path to where we are today by avoiding having a corporation dictate water use for the region.

You can find out more about how this came about and what it still means to the region this weekend at the H2Open House up at Goldstream Park.

The other reason we live in a veritable water paradise is that for the most part, we have respect for the resource itself.

I’ve lived in many places where it was an everyday occurrence to see people hand-watering their lawn to keep it green and lush, due to restrictions that said they could only water by hand on days when they couldn’t run sprinklers. That was a rule meant to keep fruits and vegetables from struggling.

I had one neighbour in Kamloops who watered his house. I’m not even exaggerating. He literally put a sprinkler on his roof for hours at a time. I assume this was to keep it cool in the heat of summer.

This same neighbour washed his car – an old rust bucket without much life left in it (I want to say a late 1980s Chrysler, maybe?) – on a daily basis.

I don’t see that kind of thing here.

I see beautiful lawns being scorched brown and bleached by the sun rather than having sprinklers going on them at all hours of the day and night, thus creating streams of water running out onto the road and into the storm drains.

I see cars on the roads covered with patinas of dust and dirt as their owners await the next rainfall to do most of the work for them, rather than getting the hose, bucket and sponge out twice a week to keep their SUV shiny for no reason other than their personal vanity.

Sure, there are exceptions.

There are still, and likely always will be people who run sprinklers from the minute they’re allowed to until the minute they’re not.

There are people who have decided their car must always be shiny. There are people who run their tap while they’re brushing their teeth.

But I also think those people are in the minority around the West Shore and Greater Victoria.

That’s why we continue to see our streams full of fish, our reservoir at a level that can support our needs and we aren’t constantly bombarded by warnings about how the fire department is concerned they won’t have enough water to fight a blaze if one starts up – as was the case not long ago in another community in which I resided.

So good on you, West Shore and South Island residents, for doing what’s best to conserve this most precious of our planet’s natural resources.

Keep turning off those taps, so hopefully we’ll never have to worry about whether anything will happen when we turn them on.

Mike Davies is a reporter with the Goldstream News Gazette.