ISSUE 8 - Fall 2007
Green Cities Award
This fall, the Province recognized the Regional District of Nanaimo for the many steps we are taking toward building more sustainable communities. At the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention in September, Premier Gordon Campbell presented the RDN with one of the Provincial Government’s seven inaugural Green Cities Awards. The Premier established these awards in the fall of 2006, to encourage local governments to think green in as many areas of their operations as possible. In choosing the first-ever Green City Award recipients, the Province evaluated nominated communities on criteria including liveability, climate change, and innovation, as well as the extent to which social, environmental and economic values are integrated throughout the communities.
In its size category, the Regional District of Nanaimo competed successfully against Metro Vancouver (formerly the Greater Vancouver Regional District) for the Green Cities Award. According to Premier Gordon Campbell, the RDN was chosen because of its green thinking in terms of solid and liquid waste management, regional transit, and regional development including urban containment.
This is a tremendous achievement for the Regional District of Nanaimo Board of Directors, as we have worked hard over the past few years to maintain our commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability. We will continue to make improvements in our operations as we work toward this important goal.
Fairwinds Water Conservation Committee
Thanks to the efforts of several hardworking community members, some residents of Fairwinds managed to significantly reduce their outdoor water consumption during the summer of 2007.
The Fairwinds Water Conservation Committee formed in February 2007, with the focus of reducing outdoor water consumption in the area. With support from Team Watersmart (a partnership between the RDN and the Town of Qualicum Beach), they have made several positive changes in the community and have helped residents to learn more about water conservation.
In April, the group hosted Water Conservation and Garden Day, which drew several hundred participants interested in reducing their water consumption. The event was such a success that another one is already scheduled for April, 2008.
Last summer, armed with rain water gauges donated by Parksville-based Iritex Pumps and Irrigation, the seven-member committee embarked on a 50-home door-to-door campaign in Fairwinds, in collaboration with Team Watersmart. During this campaign, representatives from the committee and Team Watersmart supplied homeowners with rain water gauges, and explained that one inch of water per week is plenty of water for lawns and gardens. According to committee Chair Pam May-Straka, most people discovered that they were over-watering. By keeping track of water levels with the donated water gauges, participating residents conserved water and saved a significant amount of money on their household water bills.
The hard work of this committee is benefiting the Fairwinds area in other ways. The RDN recently sponsored three household audits in the community, which were carried out by committee members and Team Watersmart, and Team Watersmart has hosted several gardening workshops in the community. Also, householders in two Fairwinds strata developments are using integrated weather stations to determine when and how much they should water. This is another Fairwinds Water Conservation Committee initiative, and so far, most participating residents are noticing a difference in the amount of water they use. We are fortunate to have this forwardthinking committee in Fairwinds, and their efforts are much appreciated.
Water Source Study
The Regional District continues to focus on the long term sustainable supply of drinking water to the Nanoose Peninsula water service area. The Utilities department has a number of initiatives in place to maintain or improve the existing water supply, and is currently working on plans to increase that supply in the future.
Pacific Hydrology of Vancouver and Lowen Hydrology of Victoria are currently working on the development of a Water Source study for the Nanoose Bay Peninsula. The purpose of the study is to identify potential groundwater and surface water supply opportunities. Once complete, this study will provide the necessary information to begin the development of an exploration program that will be phased in over the next two to three years.
Water Treatment for Iron and Manganese
Iron and manganese are common elements found in drinking water worldwide. Electoral Area E is no exception, as residents who use groundwater as a drinking water supply can attest. While these elements do not pose a health hazard they are unpleasant and can cause household headaches such as stained toilets and showers. Iron and manganese can also stain clothing.
Dissatisfaction with these elements has increased over the last few years as the population increases. Many new residents are not used to the issues associated with iron and manganese. The RDN has been working on this problem since 2006, when Worley Parsons Komex Engineering of Victoria was hired to look for solutions. They have produced a draft report that outlines a number of possible treatment options. RDN staff reviewed these options, and for one option, a field trip to a working facility was carried out. In addition, a field pilot test was carried out this summer to ensure the technology would work with the water supplied to the Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water Service Area. The field test was successful and Worley Parsons Komex is currently evaluating the data from the pilot study and will make a final recommendation to the RDN in early 2008.
If this treatment approach can be recommended, staff will ask the Board for approval of the treatment approach and for approval to initiate a referendum in the fall of 2008. A referendum is necessary to get residents’ approval to borrow the necessary funds to proceed with the treatment approach. Information on the costs and the technology involved would be presented to the residents in the spring of 2008.
Water Use in 2007
The summer of 2007 was one of the wettest we have seen in a few years. Average consumption in the Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water Service Area dropped by 20.7 per cent. In 2006 the average summer use for a household was 1.5 cubic meters per day (330 gallons). In 2007 it dropped to 1.19 cubic meters per day (262 gallons).