Suburb Needs Plan, Not Money, for Water
Halifax, NS– The Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Chapter is calling for water conservation and budgeting measures to be implemented instead of costly upgrades to infrastructure to supply a Halifax suburb. Recently, residents of Monarch Estates, a subdivision near Beaver Bank, asked for support from the province to hook up the city’s water source to their taps. The Halifax Water Commission has already agreed to pay $500,000 to put infrastructure up to the driveway of each home.
“It's not a question of who should pay for the expansion, but whether the expansion should happen at all,” said Susanne Porter-Bopp, Community Water Coordinator for the Polis Project on Ecological Governance.
Canadians are the second highest users of water in the entire world, and Nova Scotians use above that already high national average. Nova Scotia is abundant with fresh water, but its citizens are still consuming water faster than it can renew. Monarch Estates is a perfect example of this, boasting 11 lakes within short distance to the community.
“Residents in Monarch Estates have faced severe water shortages for years. The residents’ wells are constantly running dry and the community is now asking the government to connect homes to municipal water. This is a case of a missed opportunity,” according to James Hutt, Action H2O Water Coordinator with Sierra Club Atlantic, “Instead of seeking to draw water from the city, we encourage residents to reduce demand, which would be quicker and less costly. For example, simple changed like low flow shower heads and toilets can reduce use by more than 60%.”
Measures that could be implemented to save water and money include: taking advantage of rebate programmes for low-flow toilets and shower heads, and aerators on taps; and using rainwater for a variety of needs that don’t require treated drinking water, such as watering plants or lawns, or even flushing the toilet. A grey-water recycling system would recycle dirty (not polluted) water and treat it for reuse in dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, and outdoor use in each home. These measures would cost a miniscule fraction of the fee for city water and would provide a comparable amount of water.
“The only reason this community should connect up to the municipal system is if all water conservation opportunities have been maximized and tapped out… Why not instead take that money and develop this sub-division into a leader in water demand-side management? Now that would be a real solution - and an opportunity to inspire other communities in Canada” said Porter-Bopp.
“Halifax Regional Water Commission will be raising its rates to cover costs in the coming year”, adds Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter, “With the high price tag for access and increasing rates for water, should Monarch Estates really be looking into hooking up to the city system? With water conservation they save water and money: it’s a win-win.
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ActionH20 seeks to harness a grassroots collective effort to develop new conservation and efficiency-based approaches to water management that are adopted by local governments. The goal of ActionH20 is to work with 20 cities and towns across Canada over the next year and a half to identify locally relevant solutions and opportunities for action on water conservation.
For more information, please contact:
Water Coordinator, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada Chapter
Community Water Coordinator, Polis Project on Ecological Governance