While I’m grateful for many things in my life (healthy, happy family, seemingly stable job), this Thanksgiving I’m particularly grateful for water. Why? Because we haven’t seen much of it fall from the sky lately. I don’t care if my lawn is brown, but my adolescent cedar hedges like their drink — a lot. And since they provide privacy for my yard, I don’t want them to die. Sadly, I’m either forgetful or too lazy to water them and typically count on Mother Nature to do her thing. She’s usually reliable at this time of year.
While 99 per cent of Lower Mainland residents are probably over the moon about the dry, sunny weather of the past three months, which looks like it’s going to continue for a while, I’m part of the one per cent secretly panicking about the lack of rain and fretting about the water levels at Metro Vancouver’s three reservoirs (Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam).
I wasn’t feeling this way a month ago because I assumed we’d be wearing our Wellies by now and the reservoirs would start to fill up. But this extended period of rain-free living is making me nervous. Let’s face it, we are a gluttonous, wasteful people who probably think nothing of leaving the tap running for five minutes or washing our driveways while giving nary a thought to our precious reservoirs. Yes, these things keep me up nights. I find comfort in the rain—a genetic throwback to my Celtic ancestors who were born in the damp bogs of Ireland before decamping for good times in soggy Scotland.
Well, brace yourself. I have good news—the reservoir levels are just fine. I’ve been worrying for nothing, something I must stop, given the stress it causes in my life. In fact, our bountiful reservoirs are above capacity despite the piddly amount of mizzle we’ve received in the last three months.
Metro Vancouver media spokesman Bill Morrell responded immediately to my panicked email Wednesday to say, “You can relax. We are currently, as of today, at 63 per cent of our storage capacity, which is well within our operating range for this time of year. I appreciate it was a very dry summer, but it was a very wet spring and the early part of summer was cool and as a result our reservoirs were topped right up. In fact, we were spilling water, which means the reservoirs were at 100 per cent full plus right up until the end of the July. All in all, we’re in good shape and we can put that down to a wet spring, cooler summer and the diligence of our residents in conserving water. So nothing to worry about.”
To the moaners, groaners, whiners and whingers who complained about our wet spring and squelchy June—I hope you’re grateful now for all that rain and cool spring. It’s getting us through the current dry spell and probably will for another couple of months if no rain falls.
Since it’s all good news, here are a few facts to share with your family about our reservoirs, which I found on Metro Vancouver’s website:
• Metro Vancouver’s water system comprises 585 square kilometres of mountainous land that is closed to public access to protect the large supply of lakes that collect water from snowmelt, creeks and streams that provide the elixir of life for Lower Mainland municipalities.
• Metro Vancouver water is the best I’ve ever tasted in the world. (OK, that’s not on the web site.) I can’t speak for others on this, but our water is delicious. Having lived in other countries with potable water, nothing beats our H2O. The taste of the water out of my mother’s taps for instance, whose source is the mighty but polluted St. Lawrence River, is dreadful. Now I understand why she buys bottled water, which I find equally dreadful.
• There has been only one boil-water advisory issued in the last 100 years of the region’s water system. You probably recall the turbidity problems in 2006 when brown and cloudy water came pouring out of your taps that forced the district to issue a lengthy boil-water advisory.
• On average, Lower Mainland residents each use more than 340 litres of water per day for such things as washing dishes, clothes, showering and flushing toilets.
• Average total water use in the region is one billion litres a day. On a hot summer day when water usage it at its peak, that number jumps to two billion litres a day.
• The district performs 100,000 water tests a year.
• The region’s water did not get treated until the 1940s when U.S. troops were stationed here and the American government insisted on water treatment.
For more fun facts or to check reservoir levels, visit metrovancouver.org.
I am beyond grateful for the ease of access to clean, abundant water, but that shouldn’t give any of us licence to waste it. So this Thanksgiving, raise a glass to our water. Slainte.