Education, not shaming, is key to water conservation: mayor

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on May 2, 2016
GERALDINE BROPHY/THE WESTERN STAR
The City of Corner Brook is again encouraging people to conserve water during the clean up of their properties in the spring of the year.

While Corner Brook’s council introduced a hard stance against water wastage and then softened its message last year, this year’s conservation plea stuck with an educational overtone.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender said that was the intent of council during its last public meeting, as opposed to the discussion around implementing mandatory water conservation regulations this time last year.

This time last year, there was a real push on the lessening water usage in the city, but their message also lead to some inappropriate actions by city residents.

“Some people were on Twitter or Facebook basically shaming neighbours or people,” he said. ”You don’t know what somebody else’s needs are, you don’t know if somebody has a physical ailment or whatever. Let’s not be too judgmental and try to educate instead of shaming people.”

The message was delivered last year, he said, and this time it is more of a reminder.

The average daily consumption of water in Corner Brook is about 24 million litres, which is down about a couple of million litres per day from when the plant opened last year. The plant operates at a flow rate of up to 30 million litres per day, but the more water that is treated adds to the operational expense of about $1.2 million annually.

Last spring — a time identified as troublesome due to water wastage from property clean up and melting of snow — council spoke of possible mandatory conservation measures, but acknowledged enforcement and monitoring would be difficult.

During May, the daily average approached 25 million litres, according to Pender, so there is concern of increased usage this time of year. However, the mayor is just asking for people’s cooperation in saving water.

“We remind people not to waste,” he said. “If they are washing down their house, the windows or washing their car, just to turn off the water while they are doing it.”

The one area in which he continues to plead for abstinence is using running water to melt snow.

He recognizes there are individuals with such things as allergies or disabilities that inhibit them from using brooms or rakes to clean their properties, so suggesting nobody use running water for such activities is unduly harsh.

Pender also said the cost of electricity and chemicals used at the treatment plant have increased, adding to the annual operating costs.