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    Categories: Environment

Water usage down 11 per cent

St. Albert’s water consumption has declined steadily over the past eight years, but given the city’s current consumption rates it is unlikely to meet its 2020 target.

The city’s education programs, coupled with the availability of better technology, have led to a reduction in water consumption of 32.4 litres per capita per day since 2009. The current consumption rate is 246.8L/capita/day.

While this represents a significant reduction, the city has a ways to go to meet its target of 200L/capita/day by 2020 set out by St. Albert’s environmental master plan.

Considering usage is declining at an average annual rate of 1.7 per cent, it’s unlikely the city will meet this goal, despite an upcoming bylaw and new incentives from the provincial government. But it will come fairly close, said environmental coordinator Meghan Myers.

“I think it was a fairly ambitious goal,” she said. “I’m quite happy with (our progress.)”

Over the past decade the city has initiated several campaigns to help reduce water consumption, including providing leak testing kits and offering rebates for the purchase of low flow and ultra low flow toilets.

Technology has also improved significantly in the past decade said Myers. The prevalence of more efficient fixtures and appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, have had a positive impact on the city’s water conservation efforts.

St. Albert also has many environmentally friendly residents said Myers. A survey conducted in 2015, showed that only 60 per cent of the population watered their lawn.

“We have some conscious residents in the city helping that number as well,” she said.

Water conservation is not only responsible from an environmental standpoint said Mayor Nolan Crouse, but can make a big difference in the lifecycle costs of the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

“It costs us less infrastructure-wise and it costs us less as residents,” said Crouse, pointing out the savings on utility bills.

In 2018, a bylaw will come into effect requiring the installation of low-flow fixtures in all new developments and major renovations. The bylaw will also limit daytime sprinkler use.

From May 1 to October 1, residents will only be allowed to water their lawns using a sprinkler system between the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., in an effort to reduce water waste caused by evaporation.

The move away from incentive based campaigns towards legislation will help the changes stick and move the city closer to its goal, said Myers.

Michelle Ferguson: