Editorial: In these watershed moments of drought, behaviours must change

Editorial: In these watershed moments of drought, behaviours must change

No doubt Capetown thought it could never happen there

We’re officially now in a Level 3 drought on Vancouver Island.

The Chemainus and Koksilah rivers are rapidly reaching critical low flow thresholds for ecosystems and fish. The Cowichan River will be in danger later this summer if conditions don’t change and pumps aren’t put in place at the weir to keep the water flowing.

Officials from Catalyst, which operates the weir at Cowichan Lake, says the Lake is already at less than 45 per cent storage capacity. Looking forward, that leaves the river 60 days, or two months, short of water.

Catalyst officials said at the current rate, this will be the worst year on record, beating out 2016’s drought.

This situation is not unique to the Cowichan region. It is a state of affairs that should concern everyone who lives on this Island. It won’t do to tune out because you’re now bored of hearing about the drought every summer. A drought every summer is something to be very worried about. It’s a new normal that requires us to change our behaviours and relationship with the water coming out of our taps that so many of us take for granted.

The restrictions our municipalities put on our water use during the summer months are actually pretty generous, with only the highest levels requiring us to do things like stop power washing stuff, watering the lawn and stop filling the pool. We suspect these restrictions may become more, well, strict, as the years go on.

We are fortunate to live in a place with a relative abundance of water most of the year, but it has made us complacent about our water use behaviours. We use far more per person than our counterparts in other comparable countries just on things like doing the dishes, showering and washing the car.

It’s time to think about our personal habits and where we can save a little bit here and a little bit there. You’ll be surprised how much it adds up to in the end. Multiply that by the entire population, and every person can, and must, make a difference.

Sure, there are big water users such as Catalyst that will have to look at their water use, but all together, we are also a big user.

Some scoff at the whole issue, intent on believing the water will go on forever. No doubt Cape Town residents thought the same thing. Let’s not wait until reality hits us that hard and we’re facing dry taps.