It only took one wet weekend to quench Tofino’s water needs enough to lower the district’s water restrictions back to Stage 1.
The district implemented Stage 2 restrictions on July 9 but has now returned to Stage 1.
“Raising or lowering the water conservation stages is defined by rainfall conditions and the status of water reservoirs on Meares Island,” Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly.
“The rainfall during the weekend of August 7-9 was enough to allow the District to lower the Water Conservation Stage to Level 1.”
She touted the community’s compliance of the Level 2 restrictions as “excellent” and said she was thrilled to see both locals and visitors abide.
“Residents, businesses and visitors were very understanding and did a really good job of conserving water,” she said.
“I’m very happy with the way Tofino has responded to the drought that the entire Province is experiencing. Tourism Tofino was extremely proactive, recognizing the impact that the tourism sector has on Tofino’s water consumption.”
She said conversations about water conservation kicked up when summer kicked in.
“Very early in the summer, we began conversations with the hotel/motel sector and we were out of the gate early with a community education campaign,” she said.
“Everyone approached the summer with a ‘can do’ attitude, rolled up their sleeves and asked ‘What can we do?’”
She suggested the dry summer months convinced local governments across the province to pay closer attention to their water use.
“I think Summer 2015 will go down as the summer when the entire province of British Columbia realized that drinking water is an incredibly precious resource, and one that cannot be wasted,” she said.
“Many communities—Tofino included—are asking themselves how we can encourage alternatives to using potable water for outdoor use, such as rain barrels and cisterns, especially if our communities continue to grow at the rate they are.”
She added communities cannot afford to continue looking for more water supply sources and must put a keen eye on demand.
“This drought is also making us pay attention to climate change and anticipated changes in precipitation patterns in future years,” she said.
She suggested Tofino’s district office will be hashing out conservation plans in anticipation of another dry summer in 2016.
“We’ve got work to do this winter to revisit the Water Conservation Bylaw and better adapt it to our updated infrastructure and our community’s water consumption patterns,” she said.
“We will also be looking at water conservation incentive programs and, frankly, planning for
summer 2016 to be nothing different than this summer.”
While the water restrictions have been lowered, the district continues to push its 20% Reduction Challenge aimed at lowering Tofino’s monthly water usage by 20 per cent from last year.
“It’s important to establish regular habits, and I think we have all learned over the last weeks that conserving water isn’t as much of a hardship as we might have thought it was,” Osborne said.
“While we hope we will be able to remain at Level 1 for the rest of the summer, it’s not inconceivable that a dry September and October will force us back to Level 2. Therefore, the 20% Challenge continues to be important.”
While Tofino has not yet hit a 20 per cent reduction in a summer month, Osborne said she is happy with the community’s effort.
“We’ve done pretty well, reaching 14 per cent,” she said.
“It’s a busier summer than 2014 with more people in town, so I wonder if we were able to calculate conservation on a per capita basis that we might have reached 20%. But I’m happy with the response we’ve had.”
During the current Stage 1 Water Restrictions, residents with even numbered addresses may water their lawns and gardens on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-9 a.m. and 7-10 p.m.
Residents with odd numbered addresses may water on Mondays and Thursdays during these same times.
Unattended watering is not permitted at any time.
Ucluelet remained under Stage 2 water restrictions at press time though the district’s campfire ban was lifted last week.
Tofino lifted its campfire ban on July 16.