Most of us in Ottawa take it for granted that we get unlimited amounts of clean water delivered to our taps. We can use it, abuse it, pollute it and send it back to the city to treat it before releasing it back into the Ottawa River. As you can imagine, it is costly to build and maintain water and sewer infrastructure to a city, let alone a large, sprawling city like Ottawa..
City engineers and economists have been scratching their heads, trying to come up with a way to sustainably finance the total costs of our drinking and wastewater systems, including regular maintenance and repair costs.
An op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen pointed out our water and sewer taxes alone are not enough to pay the full costs associated with delivering clean water to your taps. That needs to change according to Chief Justice O’Connor who gave recommendations to ensure safe water supply systems in Ontario after the Walkerton Commission of Inquiry. O’connor argues “a municipality that can self-sufficiently recuperate the full costs of its drinking water system can more reliably provide clean, safe drinking water to its residents into the future.”
As the large and mighty Ottawa River flows through our community folks have been heard grumbling that we have plenty of water, why conserve? It is no surprise that Canadians are some of the highest per capita water users in the world. There are many smart reasons to conserve water, it is not just about the money you can personally save by reducing your household water consumption.
Conserving water is not just about the water. It takes energy to treat and distribute potable water to your home and we know electricity costs vary according to time of day and season. In the face of climate change and growing water scarcity throughout the prairies and America it is in everyone’s best interest to build resilient public water distribution systems. After all, our lives, our industries and our economy are dependent on our water supply.
Using simple water conservation techniques can help cut your water usage by more than half. If you commit just a little extra effort each day you alone can make a difference. Whether you try your hand at xeriscaping or just use a low flow shower head you can see reduced water bills within the first month.
Join our email list to get timely updates on stories that are important for the Ottawa River.