NEWS

B.C. drought: Metro Vancouver's water hogs, by the numbers

07/09/2015 01:19 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 05:59 EDT
There are "unprecedented" dry conditions in Metro Vancouver, but it's not clear everyone is getting the message from officials not to waste a drop.

"We've just made the change, we've got to give it some time for people to respond to that," said Marilyn Towill, a manager with Metro Vancouver's water services department.

Water use is still increasing, to 1.6 billion litres a day, despite Stage 2 water restrictions brought in last Friday, said Metro Vancouver. Reservoirs are now at 75 per cent — which is below the normal range for this time of year.

"It's really unprecedented in terms of the conditions we've seen," said Towill.

Here are the biggest water hogs, by the numbers.

Source: Metro Vancouver, 2013. Note: Delta, Maple Ridge, Surrey and West Vancouver have their own secondary water source.

Delta uses the most water per person in the region

According to the most recent numbers available from Metro Vancouver, the municipality of Delta uses the most water — a whopping 632 litres per person, per day.

But, the water use can't all be blamed on massive green lawns.

Those numbers include industrial use, which would be large in a municipality like Delta, with a port, cement plant and other heavy industry.

Residents account for roughly 60 per cent of water use, while 40 per cent is industrial or commercial use, but Towill couldn't provide a further breakdown.

You couldn't carry the amount of water you use

Even if we just look at residential use, Canadians use a whopping 335 litres of water per day for household and gardening purposes, according to Environment Canada.

Just ten per cent of that is for drinking and cooking.

To get a picture of how much water gets used each day, 335 litres would fill more than 17 big water cooler bottles.

Try carrying that around.

Thursdays in July are the worst for water use

July is the peak time for water use in Metro Vancouver.

Since 1965, the peak day for water use in the region has mostly been in July. In 2013, it was July 25.

Interestingly, there's also a pattern with the days of the week.

The top day of water use has never fallen on a Saturday, in the 48 years with records available, but has hit on Thursdays 29 per cent of the time.

Lawn sprinkling really does matter

In summer months, between half and three-quarters of potable water used is sprayed on lawns, according to Environment Canada.

That's why drought plans target grassy lawns first in their water restrictions.

"We first focus on those non-essential uses ... what are the things we can reduce without impacting business or commercial," said Towill.

Stage 3 restrictions — which prohibit all lawn watering with drinkable water — may come to Metro Vancouver this summer, depending on the weather and how people respond.

"If those things don't come together, then we would consider moving to an additional stage," said Towill.

Some parts of B.C., including Salt Spring Island, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island, are already in Stage 3 drought.

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