Monday, May 16, 2016

Is there scientific evidence for pending water shortages in Greater Vernon in 2016?

Before we start a major water conservation project we should consider the scientific evidence for the need for it. As I stated earlier there are consequences of extreme water conservation: we pay more for less water as the budgetary obligation must be met.

Of course, if there is a major water shortage we must be prudent with the available water so every customer gets his/her basic needs. For that purpose Greater Vernon Water Utility developed a Drought Management Plan in 2011 with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. The plan considers available empirical evidence before determines appropriate action. It uses a model such as the one below to decide the need for extreme conservation measures.

The current status of the Duteau Reservoir is demonstrated below:

There is no water shortage indicated  by the graph. In fact, if we observe long term empirical data relating to reservoir levels (below) we can see that in most years when the Duteau reservoir was full at the start of the irrigation season the reservoir was in good shape by the end of the season.

So, we can choose to conserve and get less water for more money, and perhaps run a deficit, or use our water judicially. We have a way oversized water system for which we had (and continue to have) to pay and we are already quite diligent in using water way below predicted volumes (an average of 53% below the predicted demands). Staff is so worried about reduced water consumption that they recommended extremely high base fees for which we get no water at all. This costs us all a lot of money without justification.

I have analyzed the water consumption of Coldstream customers for the first quarter of 2016. The average cost of 1 cubic meter of water was $4.30. Of this sum $3.10 (72%) was due to base fees. I am reasonably sure that if we also included Vernon customers this rate would be lower due to lower Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) rates.

This could be improved significantly if all domestic customers (including customers)  paid the same rates. However, the majority of RDNO Directors oppose the elimination of subsidized rates for ICI customers. They need your opinion on the issue so they could be pressured to represent your interests. If you disagree with ICI subsidies email, phone or write to your political representative and tell them how you feel.

You may decide to conserve water on principle and it is your prerogative. But that conserved water will not stay here: it will continue its travel to the sea and come back next year via air mail!


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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.