Sudbury and Water Conservation – “A Call to Action” Prepared for Mayor John Rodriguez January 14, 2010 by Bob Tate EarthCare Sudbury’s Advocate for Water, Efficiency and Water Conservation since 2002 The Top 10 Reasons why Sudbury’s Municipal Politicians Should Endorse Water Conservation and Implement a Sudbury Action Plan for Water Conservation in 2010.
1. Water is truly Sudbury’s Legacy Project The Sudbury Region has historically been endowed with an ample supply of water. We don’t have to purchase it or build it. We just have to manage our water resource in a sustainable manner for current and future generations. Water is clearly a Municipal jurisdiction. Our water infrastructure is already in place and it has sufficient capacity for growth for the foreseeable future, especially if a Water Conservation program is implemented. We have to learn to save and protect what we have, especially in the face of Global Warming. The good news is that we currently have the water and we still have time on our side to achieve this objective. Is Sudbury’s Water Legacy in jeopardy? See Reason (6).
2. Water is a basic Human Right (Maude Barlow, Blue Gold, 2002)
We, as Canadians, should understand this and learn to value water more by using/wasting less water. While thousands of people in the World die each day because of a lack of adequate water, we Canadians continue to be the second highest in per capita daily usage in the World. To demonstrate that Sudbury is on the right side of the Water Debate we should implement a Water Conservation Program. Water Conservation should be moved to centre stage. (* Karen Bakker – “Eau Canada” 2007)
3. Water Conservation is already happening in Sudbury Hundreds of Sudbury residents, School Boards, Business’s and Public institutions are already practicing Water Conservation and yet it still does not appear to be of a political interest. The main reason for this public response is that Sudbury’s Water Rates have increased by approximately 70% since 2001. The net 1
effect of this substantial water price increase, on the average Sudbury family, is an annual water cost increase of some $470.00 over 2001 rates, if a family did not change its water consumption habits. Therefore by reducing water usage, a family can save a substantial amount of money in a short period of time. Even though water rates continue to increase, these families will save money as they use less water (examples available). This may partly explain why Sudbury’s total Water Usage has actually declined by some 15% (Sudbury Star Dec/09) in a time of growth in Sudbury. This should be seen as good news as this should minimize the need for new Capital for Supply Side requirements. Funds generated can then be used to upgrade our aging in ground Water and Sewer Pipe System to reduce system leakage (currently at 25%). The current Demand Side question in Sudbury may well be: Would an aggressive Water Conservation Program reduce or even eliminate some or all of the $120 Million (2006 dollars) Planned but “Unfunded” Water Capital projects? With a Water Conservation Plan in place it should be easier to convince and educate a greater percentage of Sudbury residents and enterprises in the merits of practicing Water Conservation. In light of the success of what is already happening with no plan this would also be seen as a way for the Sudbury residents and local politicians to work together in a co-operative fashion to find the answers to any or all current and future Water Supply Side issues.
4. Existing City Departments and Organizations already endorse the need for implementing a Water Conservation Plan a) EarthCare: The 2003 EarthCare LAP identifies Water Conservation and Water Efficiency as one of many requirements for a Sustainable Community in a number of areas: e.g. pages 4, 7, 33, 34, 36, 53, etc… EarthCare’s 2009 update clearly states objectives for the City of Greater Sudbury 2009/2010. Copy attached. What else can EarthCare do to expedite a Water Conservation Program? b) Water and Waste Water Department: Personnel in this department are committed to the development of a Water Conservation Program. A Pilot Project was organized in 2009 involving rain barrels. It was very successful. The use of rain barrels effectively assists in reducing water consumption during summer Peak Load periods. A 2010 Budget request for further Pilot Projects was rejected by Council (during a difficult Budget year) as some kind of “Slush” fund. Some staff have now become disillusioned by this apparent lack of Political Will. In this Department we are “Preaching to the Converted.” The personnel appear to have the heart but their hands are tied due to a lack of organization and funds to develop such a program.
c) Water Source Protection Committee: Their required Future Plan for Sudbury is expected to be completed by 2012. The website for this committee demonstrates the need for Water Conservation as a part of their mandate. After all, one of the best ways to protect our valuable Water resources is to use less of it. This committee has a good size Budget and it may in the future be a Funding source for a Water Conservation Program. For now this committee is focused on their future plan and Water Conservation is on the back burner. Note: It may be necessary to organize a separate Division within one of the above Departments complete with its own Structure and Budget to get started with a Water Conservation Plan c/w a Local Governance Council. (*Maude Barlow, Blue Gold, 2002, p. 240).
5) Watergy: A new term to effectively demonstrate how Water and Energy are inextricably linked
Some jurisdictions have learned that the Energy required to produce and distribute their Water and Waste Water has reached 8 to 10% of their total Energy costs. California has reached 19 % (Water Efficiency Journal, “Hidden in the Water”, June/07). Hence it can readily be seen that the Carbon Footprint of Water is huge. If Global Warming is a fact then we should be more conscious and aware of this important issue.
6) A Canadian Myth about our Water Supply:
Many Canadians are of the opinion that Canada has as much as 25% of the world’s supply of fresh water (Karen Bakker - Eau Canada, 2007). In fact, Canada only has some 2.6% of the world’s annual supply of renewable water (Karen Bakker, Eau Canada p.25). Note: Does Sudbury share in this myth? There are some 330 lakes in the Sudbury Region. This is good but they have been described mainly as big “Puddles” in terms of water supply. (David Pearson, June 22/06 Presentation and Karen Bakker, Eau Canada – p.24). The concern is that Global Warming makes our lakes vulnerable to dropping lake levels which then become a water supply risk. There are other associated risks outlined by David Pearson (e.g. Lake Acidification). Sudbury’s suggested 5 to 10 Year Goal: Reduce and/or maintain our Water Consumption, through Demand Side Management, to the point were we are using water in an amount which is no greater than the annual amount of water that we receive through various forms of precipitation.
7) Water Pricing Rate Structure:
Even though some Sudbury Residents have been turning to Water Conservation to assist with their household budgets the current Water Pricing System should be changed to a Variable Price Structure to encourage Water Conservation with a broader public base. This would also be a fairer way for charging for water in the current and long term. (Karen Bakker – Eau Canada, Chapter 13. and Maude Barlow – Blue Gold, p.238) Note: Within the current pricing structure smaller users of water in Sudbury pay in the order of 65% more per cubic meter of water than even the average family. Is this reasonable and/or fair for those less fortunate?
8) Other Canadian Municipalities:
Sudbury may well be one of the last larger Municipalities in Canada to endorse Water Conservation. Traditionally, Sudbury like most Municipalities has focused on Supply Side Management for its water requirements. With a Water Conservation Program, we would be focusing on Demand Side Management which is far less demanding for Capital Funding (City of Toronto, 2001). The good news is that we will not be starting from scratch re such a program as there already many other templates for Water Conservation that we can learn from and develop our own Plan.
9) The advantages of an Informed Public:
A Public educated about the advantages of practicing Water Conservation will also react more responsively and more effectively in the event of a major disaster due to floods, loss of water capacity caused by major break downs or disruptions (e.g. fires, explosions, railway derailment, etc…). This is an insurance policy against possible loss of or reduction in our valuable Water Supply in the future. A Water Conservation Plan demonstrates to the Public that the City is working with the Public in a proactive manner in terms of keeping water cost increases under some type of control while at the same time insuring a continuing supply of water in the future. Note: Canadians are the second highest users of water in the world. Therefore, a large reduction in demand should be possible. This reduction would increase the life of our existing water processing facilities. This concept is outlined in more detail in (3). This reduction in demand will also assist in securing our supply of water in the future. This will be only achieved through Public education with regards to the need for Water Conservation. Our younger generation is already responding but we have to demonstrate leadership to minimize the learning curve.
10) 2010 is an Election Year:
This is an ideal opportunity to bring this Green Initiative to the forefront. Anything Green seems to be in the news. From cars, to home heating, to home remodeling, everything now is Green. Green is good. Water Conservation is not new but it involves many of our daily activities and it is now a “Green” idea whose time has come. We all expect Water to come out of the tap when we turn it on. What are we doing to insure that this is the case for our children and grand children? Why not start a Water Conservation program this year? Conclusion
To my knowledge, to this date, there has not been a proposal for Water Conservation brought to Sudbury’s Municipal Politicians for their consideration and action. The purpose of this presentation is to seek advice from the Mayor as to how and when this may be best arranged. Note: A first step may be to establish a Local Water Advisory Committee, (As in the Region of Waterloo), to develop a Preliminary Action Plan for Water Efficiency and Water Conservation in Sudbury for Council to consideration in 2010 or 2011. This, at least to start, may well be under the jurisdiction of EarthCare due to its existing background and experience on the subject.