With rain a no-show in May and June’s sun coming in hot out of the gate, the District of Tofino’s water supply is struggling as the town heads into its busiest season.
The district put Stage 2 water restrictions in effect on May 29, limiting outdoor use to food plants with a hand-held canister or hose with an automatic shutoff and upped conservation efforts a step further by launching a 20 per cent reduction challenge on June 1.
Through the challenge, the district is urging businesses, residents, and visitors to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 per cent over the summer.
“As climate change increases the severity and frequency of drought conditions all over the West Coast, Tofino is also seeing drier, longer, and hotter summers,” read a statement from the district announcing the challenge. “In addition, Tofino regularly experiences a substantial rise in water consumption during the summer, placing pressure on our water supply and infrastructure in the months where we receive the least amount of rainfall and reservoir contributions.”
The announcement adds that the district is auditing water consumption of large commercial users and work with local accommodation providers to get tourists and seasonal staffers up to speed on the water shortage.
“In the past, I know our community has worked together successfully when water conservation has been urgently prioritized. Noting that this current exceptionally dry period may extend through the summer, I encourage all residents, businesses, and visitors to band together to embrace the 20% Water Conservation Challenge collectively,” Tofino mayor Dan Law said through the announcement.
“In 2022, Council authorized staff to develop a Water Master Plan to inform infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. The plan will address summer population growth, the changing climate, and infrastructure renewal. Collective conservation remains our community’s most affordable option for ensuring adequate water supply during the driest months.”
The district is also encouraging anyone with water conservation tips to share them on social media using the #TofinoH20 hashtag and is tracking the challenge’s progress at talktofino.ca/water-conservation.
“By encouraging awareness and efficiency in water usage, the 20% Challenge recognizes that the responsibility for conservation is shared by all users, including businesses, residents, visitors and the District,” the statement reads, adding that the town’s water supply comes from rainforests protected by Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks in the Haahuulthii of the Tla-o-qui-aht Ha’wiih.
Law told the Westerly News he is confident that residents will answer the call to reduce their water consumption.
“Whenever Tofino reaches a critical moment and the whole community has to rise up and act together, it always happens. This community always comes through; residents always step up to the plate and hit a homerun,” he said. “If the community get behinds it, businesses get behind it and visitors realize that water is a precious resource and a finite resource on the peninsula, we’ll see some success.”
He added Tourism Tofino and local businesses will have a key role to play to convince visitors to conserve.
“This is the need of the hour, to restrict water and prepare for a dry summer so, altogether, I’m pretty hopeful,” he said.
He encourages residents to check out the district’s website and learn more about the steps they can take to reduce their water usage.
“Understanding personal water use is a big one. It’s something that we often just take for granted without thinking about it but now is the time to really assess how much water an individual or business is using, get that number and take steps to reduce it,” he said.