Thursday, August 13, 2015

Water restrictions, a million more people. Will we have enough?

For the first time since 2003, Metro Vancouver has enacted the third stage of water-use restrictions, banning all lawn sprinkling and limiting other non-essential uses of drinking water. It has many people wondering about the future of the water supply.
The region is expected to grow by a million more people in the next 20 years; will we have enough water?
Over the past decade, Metro Vancouver has invested nearly $2 billion into improving drinking-water quality, distribution and supply. Every day, Metro Vancouver supplies over a billion litres of high-quality drinking water to the residents and businesses of the region. During summer months, consumption can almost double, largely due to outdoor demands such as lawn sprinkling. The good news is that this past decade, per capita water consumption has been falling. Maintaining this trend will allow us to ensure a sufficient drinking water supply for years to come, without needing to invest even more in expensive new infrastructure.
Our long-range drinking-water management plan takes into account population growth, climate change, ecological health and the continuing prosperity of the region. Over the long term, we plan to invest more than $1.5 billion on projects to accommodate population growth, and our supply strategy involves securing additional capacity from Coquitlam Lake as well as expanding storage capacity in the Seymour watershed. We will continue to review our plans and policies in coming years as the effects of climate change become more apparent.
Seasonal water use restrictions help ensure water is reserved for essential uses in homes and business and for firefighting, and in the last few weeks Metro Vancouver residents and businesses have cut their water consumption down to a level the reservoirs can sustain through the fall even if we don’t receive significant rainfall.
Darrell Mussatto
Chair, Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee


Anonymous said...

Daryll says:
"We will continue to review our plans and policies in coming years as the effects of climate change become more apparent."

Um well ok Darryl. Looks like you're a fuly converted beiliever in alarmist catastrophe just around the corner.

I'd like to point out though, that if you look up the Vancouver area in the Berkely Earth dataset, which is free to anyone, you will find that this region has NOT been warming for some decades now.
The mean rate of change in degrees C per century ( since 1990 ) is -1.24 C. Minus means cooling. So is that what you meant Darryl?

British Columbia as a whole, is holding fast at -.04 degrees C per century.
Washington State... -.54.

Sorry but it's true so I'm not sure what Darryl is on about here. Probably he isnt either. I mean if he'd said that in 1990, he'd have had little or no climate change on his hands.

Anonymous said...

First of all, it's Darrell not Darryl or Daryll.

Second, the drought on the west coast which has now spread north and east, is absolutely something we should be taking into consideration for future planning.

Anonymous said...

So why then does Darrell continue with his out-of-control development? Construction everywhere throughout the City. If you believe that 1 million people will be moving here in the next 10-20 years, and we're on full water alert now, how is this supposed to work in favour of we people who live here and pay taxes?

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an old Gunsmoke. There was a draught in Dodge. One well was guarded and water was rationed. Gold became a useless commodity. Water was the focus for everybody.

Anonymous said...

"Second, the drought on the west coast which has now spread north and east, is absolutely something we should be taking into consideration for future planning"

Yes,surely, as the future is very very likely to produce El Ninos yet again. But this is not 'climate change' as Darrell ( thanks for the correction) is trying to make out.

It is an El Nino. These things have happened certainaly since the 1600s when they were named and likely long before that.

Anonymous said...

This blog is really attracting the tinfoil hat brigade. Sounds like the climate denier spends too much time watching fox news.

Anonymous said...

Looks as if YOU,9:07, are thankfully not in tinfoil hat denial. I mean they're just EVERwhere right?
Able to read anything which questions the Pope's newly found dogma? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Oh and 9:07.. if you ever find Berkeley Earth datasets in the news.. please post it.

Anonymous said...

The Pope is late coming to what science has been telling us. Not being Catholic, I don't pay him much mind any ways. If his comments offend you, perhaps you should chat with him about it and show him the 'science' that proves him wrong. While you're at it, explain to us all why we shouldn't be listening to the scientists who say that we should be concerned about climate. What are your credentials that would trump theirs?

Anonymous said...

Nothing any politician says or does makes any kind of common sense. In fact, while other cities are cancelling the Water Slide, CNV continues to go against the wave of common sense.

Why should we bother to listen to these hypocrites in office? They always say one thing and practice another.

Anonymous said...

Hey folks try not to get derailed. The title of this post was - Water restrictions, a million more people. Will we have enough? That seems like a good question. Forget about disdain for politicians, the pope and the climate change debate.

We've had one very dry year. Just one. We all saw that there was no snow cap on the mountains. And we are restricting water and banking on the fall rains replenishing our reserves. And we keep adding new folks into the Lower Mainland infrastructure as they get their water from the northern watershed as do we on the N. Shore.

I think that water availability is a basic necessity. After all, humans will die if they don't have sufficient air, potable water and food in that order.

So what if it doesn't rain and snow as it normally does during this upcoming year? What if it is as dry as last year again? What if we begin next summer at severely reduced capacity in our system?

If this happens our choices seem self-evident:

1. Spend a bundle on new water infrastructure PDQ (probably already too late);
2. Implement permanent water restrictions;
3. Limit growth in the Lower Mainland.

Now I'm betting that the unholy trinity of politicians, developers and real estate agents won't like #3. So get ready for the first 2.

Barry Rueger said...

4. Find creative ways to reduce water usage - as has been done in Las Vegas.

How about a 30% reduction in water use over the last decade?

Las Vegas sucks up a lot of water. In 2010, the latest year for which nationally comparable figures have been released by the US Geological Survey, each resident of Clark County, which covers the entire urban area of Las Vegas and its suburbs, used 234 gallons of water every day. In California, the figure was 181 gallons. But in recent years southern Nevada has dramatically cut its water use. Between 2002 and 2014 the region’s consumption of Colorado river water fell by 30%, even as Clark County added half a million residents.

Anonymous said...

As the article points out we already have reduced per capita water usage. I suspect much of this is through the low flow toilet program, efficient water using appliances and water metering in some municipalities.

I doubt that unspecified "creative ways" will add up to much unless industry and agriculture come up with some game changers. My take is that it will fall back on the residential user.

Anonymous said...

We've had water restrictions during summer for years. That tells us that are reservoirs are too small for the current population. More people are coming, and despite the histrionics, I don't think anyone has actually come up with a workable way to prevent it. We have the freedom to move where we like in this country and I don't think there's anything you or I can do to prevent it. Back to water, there's plenty of it in this part of the world. We just haven't got sufficient means of storage. Build the infrastructure and start metering water usage to help pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Agree that we need more storage capacity - see #1 above spend a bundle on new water infrastructure.

Disagree that we can't limit a percentage of new arrivals. Federal government has discretion to limit immigration which would have an impact in the Lower Mainland population growth. Government also has authority to limit foreign ownership.

John Sharpe said...

If the area is in fact cooling, as in the first Anon comment on this thread as per the Berkely Earth dataset (which I haven't looked at) then let's hope for a colder, wetter than normal 2015-16 Winter to offset this currant drought. It may not be warming, but it sure seems drier. So is cooling vs. warming relevant anyway? I's all about the snow pack levels, and precipitation during Winter months that make a difference, isn't it? It seems that the California area drought is simply moving northward - What does this Berkely Earth dataset say about that area?

Just attempting to put it in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Government also has authority to stop rezoning single family residential to multifamily which would begin to limit additional housing stock and therefore slow the inflow of additional population due to shortage of housing. This, obviously, would have an impact on level of water usage.

Don't get the histrionics comment. This is just a fact.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to municipal governments when it comes to development (read densification).

Anonymous said...

How much single family zoned property is actually being rezoned to multi-family? I doubt it's really all that much. And how do you prevent people who already live in Canada from moving to the North Shore? Never mind the immigrant bogie man everyone keeps bringing up. I was born and raised in Canada and moved to the North Shore from elsewhere, as I'm, sure many of your neighbours did. Are you suggesting that you want to limit movement to even the citizens of this country?

Anonymous said...

Yes. If the infrastructure is not in place.

Anonymous said...

How do you propose that be done? How would you like to be told you can't move into a community in which you choose to work and live? Not sure you'd really want to live in a country that puts limitations on your freedom to move within its borders. Or would you?

Anonymous said...

This is a discussion that has been hashed out on this blog before. Let's go over some of the more important points.

1. Reviewing infrastructure (ex. health care, water, transit and many other struggling gov't systems) it is obvious that our infrastructure is approaching a critical point and becoming unable to sustain the existing population.

2. Annual net immigration to the Lower Mainland varies year by year but the population is increasing somewhere between 50K and 100K people every year.

3. The increases are comprised of expanding existing Vancouver families, persons coming from elsewhere in Canada and immigrants from foreign countries.

4. The Constitution of Canada allows free movement of all citizens within Canada. Therefore, there is no legal impediment for any Canadians to move anywhere they like.

5. However, just because the Constitution permits freedom of movement that doesn't mean that there is any obligation whatsoever for any community to provide housing and infrastructure to accommodate those that desire to move to such a community if the infrastructure is not currently in place.

6. Anon 5:22 seems to pose red herrings. Immigrant bogie man? Anyone who has lived in the LM for more than 30 years would have to be willfully blind to not discern the demographic changes in Surrey, Richmond, Vancouver, Coquitlam and N. Shore populations. Not a bogie man just an uncomfortable fact. Again, long term residents will remember single family units where high rises, and particularly, low rise 3 story walk up apartments now loom. Finally, take a look at NV City's OCP and the projected doubling of their population. Hardly a bogie man.

7. Also, Anon 5:22 seems to think that if we can't do one thing then we can't do anything. Not true. Immigration can be reduced to zero by the Federal gov't at the stroke of a pen. While Anon is correct that you can't legally stop Canadians from moving to the LM you CAN impede anyone from moving here if suitable housing stock is not available. That is achievable by local govt's placing a moratorium on anything but replacement housing density. Simple.

8. Finally, anyone with an ounce of common sense (like Anon 4:15) knows that in every case from a private home to an entire country you cannot permanently increase the population beyond the resources of the environment. It is unsustainable, irresponsible and can only result in collapse of systems hurting the very people that you hoped you were helping.

Anonymous said...

What'll happen to the cost of housing stock if you place a moratorium on development? Stopping development won't stop people from moving here, it'll just put greater demands on the supply. That'll probably mean that even fewer of us can afford the live here, especially I'd property taxes keep rising based on the ever increasing value of our property.

Anonymous said...

In reply to Anon 12:14.

1. If you put a moratorium on expansion of the housing supply our housing costs will continue to rise.

2. "Stopping development won't stop people from moving here, it'll just put greater demands on the supply." This statement is incorrect. Stopping expansion of the housing pool will restrict people from moving here that can't find housing that they can afford or can't find housing at all. This will limit our growth and the demand upon infrastructure.

3. "That'll probably mean that even fewer of us can afford the live here," If you already live here then you are already living in a part of the existing housing supply so stopping the creation of additional housing supply for additional residents will have no impact except that the housing you currently occupy will become more valuable.

4. "especially I'd (sic) property taxes keep rising based on the ever increasing value of our property." It is a common misconception that property value is the sole multiplier for your property tax. Your property taxes are based upon the requirements of your annual municipal budget. Once this number is established by Council then a "mill rate" will be approved by Council. The assessed value of the properties are multiplied by the mill rate (which normally drops as assessed value increases) to produce a total. All the totals are added up to equal the required municipal budget. Therefore, as all properties would have an increased value then, no, your taxes will not increase beyond any normal increases that would have been approved had there not been a moratorium on expanding the housing pool.

5. Perpetually increasing the regional population without an equal or greater increase in serving infrastructure will result in a collapse of the infrastructure. That is what is happening now. This is unsustainable. Therefore population growth needs to be severely curtailed until such time as the infrastructure can service the existing and projected population.

Anonymous said...

Municipal councils must put the brakes on development. They can do this, they just choose not to for relatively immediate financial gains. We will all lose our livability if this continues, and more and more people will move away from Metro. And who will be left?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:20

Who will be left is elitists who ferry in their help.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations John on your ability to have issues discussed here before they hit the Mainstream Media's radar:

Cigarette Butts causing forest fires June 20, 2015

Capilano WaterMain project April 12, 2015

Anonymous said...

Regarding the old saw about 'a million people will be arriving and we can't stop them so we MUST build more housing'... 'because we can't stop them from coming'.

Perhaps people who believe this can tell us why West Vancouver waterfront or, say, Point Grey Road in Vancouver, isn't filled to overflowing with homeless families who nobody could stop coming there to live? These are the most desireable places to live around Vancouver.. so why?

The reason is, that the families are living where the housing they can afford is.
If there aint no housing... there aint no homeless families living on the waterfront.

If you DONT keep planning for the million and you DONT build the housing to accommodate a million more...they will settle where there IS housing which is close enough to jobs to make it possible to live. Those jobs may not be in or around Vancouver. They might be in Prince George. They might be in Alberta.

Since Canadians do not have enough children to replace themselves, the increase in population must be due to immigration and immigration policy affects immigration rate which in turn affects demand for housing nation wide.

We have a choice as to how MUCH of that inflow of people we can or want to house in this region. My tendency is to believe that SPRAWL is a good thing in an empty country such as Canada, until it is not empty anymore. Then you ought to look at higher density or immigration rates.

Anonymous said...

'How much single family zoned property is actually being rezoned to multi-family? I doubt it's really all that much.'

It depends on how you look at things Anon 4:03.

I think pretty much ALL of Metro Vancouver is zoned multi family. Now hold on.. let me finish. Yes the bulk of its property is zoned RS-1 which is called Single Family but ... the development uses of this category now include a Laneway House. Ergo... multi-family property.

INFILL is the sneaker planner's friend.

Anonymous said...

A coach house is an expensive undertaking. More people are likely to add a legal suite to their basement than add a coach house. A secondary suite, be it a coach house or basement suite, is one of the ways that many people are able to afford their property. If it weren't for my suite, I'd probably have lost my house when the economy turned south and I lost my job in 2008. So, infill housing is probably the friend of more people than just the sneaky planner.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53am

I had to slow right down to see if I got it right: filled to overflowing with homeless families

What I read: filled to overflowing with home less families

Anonymous said...

Yes, infill housing is also the friend of more than sneaky planners. Legal suites are helpful to the landlord/home owners. The owner also pays a premium in their property taxes to the muni in consideration of the extra water, sewage, garbage creation, wear and tear on roads, park, library use etc. Additionally the income is taxable so the owner pays more in income tax which comes back to the country, province, and the muni from the Feds.

Illegal suites are the friend of sneaky property owners who reap the benefit of additional and normally undeclared income without any benefit and at the cost of his fellow citizens.

In both cases infill housing in excess of previously approved density is a detriment to the region and population as a whole if the region is incapable of serving the basic former density with the existing infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

There is going to be an huge exodus east of Metro Van when it becomes completely "Surrey"-ized (gang wars, etc.). Here today, gone tomorrow. Welcome to future Dystopia.

Anonymous said...

I agree Anon 2:53. I am making plans to move off the North Shore to a small town in the BC interior.

Anonymous said...

3:12 pm

Could you take "Ghetto Slide in the City" with you?

Anonymous said...

The 'ghetto' slide, as you call it, seems to be a hit with the residents and seems to fit right in with the theme of car free day at Lower Lonsdale. The atmosphere is great and everyone is having a good time. So rather than sit behind your computer criticizing everything that rubs you the wrong way, why don't you get down there and see a little of what makes this a pretty great community to live in. If the lack of cars and the sight of people on foot or on bicycles scares you you might want to rethink your place in this community.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the ghetto guy. I don't care about the slide as long as it self funds. Car free days are OK from time to time. Bicycles are too often a menace on the roadways and they only scare me when I think that I'm going to mow one down due to their lack of attention to the rules of the road.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yet another car cultist who is too self-important to share the road with other users. If anything scares you while you're driving, perhaps you haven't the temperament for the task.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:35 7:07

Walk a mile....

Anonymous said... become miserable and negative about everything?

Anonymous said...

To 7:07 the bike fanatic. The "self-important" are those that ignore the law requiring bikes to ride single file on the right side of the road, not the wrong way against traffic flow, not across crosswalks, not between lanes of traffic etc.

No I don't have the temperament for arrogant scofflaws.

Anonymous said...

Back to water. A good newsmagazine yesterday on the radio. A scientist was saying that our experts are relying upon old data that predates the current obvious climate change in our region. Many projections are based upon this old data and their recommendations are out of synch with the upcoming warmer, drier conditions. The point was that governments are relying upon dated information and are not rapidly responding to the new reality by quickly pursuing infrastructure to cope with the increasing population and the decreasing water supply.

Re reckless cyclists. The bad ones will weed themselves out by getting whacked and the good ones will obey the laws and use their alternate transportation for a good purpose. Should be a self-correcting situation.

Anonymous said...

"old data that predates the current obvious climate change in our region"

1. Which region do you mean?

2. Could you please let us know what that change is and why it appears to be 'obvious'?

3. Where do you get your data from and how is the 'obvious' conclusion made?

Anonymous said...

1. Lower Mainland
2. Warmer conditions. No snowcap on mountains for the first time in memory. Sunfish, mackeral and numerous species of warm water sea creatures being found in local waters. Bananas growing in Abbotsford. Historic low water and warm water rivers threatening returning local salmon. All well reported news stories and thus 'obvious'.
3. "My" data was not my data. As clearly stated it was the data of a scientist researching our short term recent climate information which is at variance with historical climate information.
3a. It is not stated that the conclusion is 'obvious'. See #2 for what was stated that was 'obvious'.

Anonymous said...

There was actually 2 days straight of rain in July and thereafter some rainfall almost every week, August there was about 5 days where it rained, and it was very heavy rain. The spring rained a lot. A drought should be no rain at all, not when we are still getting rain. The fires, floods and droughts are all manufactured, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Manufactured?! To what end?!

Anonymous said...

Polite disdain. Do not engage. Possible wackjob.

Anonymous said...

Ok 12:51
Generally speaking, and especially on this topic, news stories are famously unreliable and like anecdotes are not to be trusted as data.

Having said that, you should know that the very first fish I killed, I got by jigging. It was a sunfish and I caught it near Bowen Island when I was 8? yrs old. The record says that was a strong El Nino year.
You might calm your hysteria by checking out what actually does happen in El Nino years here around the coast..

That's UBC Oceanography dept Climate Prediction Group's take on things.
Note especially how 'Off the coast of British Columbia, the warm coastal waters during an El NiƱo tend to bring more southern marine species northward to our latitude'

Now you might be aware that last year was touted and predicted to be a Super El Nino and the warm waters were there but it fizzled and nobody knows why. This year it looks like it wont, but we may have seen some of the effects from last year anyhow.

Your memory of snow caps really doesnt match mine .. maybe mine is longer or there is actual data to say I am wrong, but anecdotally, I think you are incorrect about the history of snow on the Lions and other places around here but only based on my memory.

Another thing I remember from childhood is my uncle's garden and its plantain tree having little mini banana like things on it up in Renfrew Heights.

Now it MIGHT be we are seeing the effects of a changing climate but it is absolutely not any kind of certainty and as I posted in the beginning, the area around Vancouver has not seen a warming climate since 1990 and that's not anecdotal. That's data and includes quite a few warm El Nino years similar to the one that fizzled last year and the none that is developing now.

OH hey, and before you read an article on sea level rise in Vancouver and get us all aflutter about it, head on down to the bottom of Lonsdale, East side of the street but maybe 50 metres north of Tap and Barrel. There you will see a plaque embedded in the sidewalk marking the location of the seashore at a point in recent history. The shoreline is a lot lower down now, and , strangely, not drowning LoLo. Something I find cool is that the shoreline 8000 yrs ago was up at 11th and Lonsdale.

Bonus Question... what does the plaque say?

Hint for Geocachers

Anonymous said...

"The 'ghetto' slide, as you call it, seems to be a hit with the residents and seems to fit right in with the theme of car free day at Lower Lonsdale."

Ghetto slide? ... ?? ... oh YEAH!! You must mean the one where Darell made sure we all knew how the water was not sourced from local reservoirs and was car-free ( having been transported in ftrom Abbotsford by a squadron of bike tankers). Love that image.

Anonymous said...

id you even participate, anon 1:32am? Or are you just another one of those people who sits behind the computer all day complaining about every little thing that upsets your loathsome personality? The slide and car free day were a success and very enjoyable. I didn't try the slide but got a kick out of the joy it facilitated and the happy faces of those who did try it. Are you even familiar with the feeling of joy or is life so miserable that you can't find happiness in even these small attempts at community building?

Anonymous said...

Ooooooo. I thought I actually gave kind of a light hearted look at the City's green hypocrisy (not really a light hearted subject given the massive cost of the green schemes foisted upon us by the enlightened zealot class). It was even, arguably, on topic. Maybe it was the term 'Ghetto slide' that tweaked your nuts. I was but quoting some other Anon who used the term in here. Still, my little comment must have hit some kind of holy worker's nerve given the vitriol you puked out. Maybe you need to get a sense of humour to complement your obvious 'true believer's' devotion to the cause. It really helps with 'community building' by the way.

And, for the record, it is my understanding that this is a political blog (North Shore Politics). Comments like I made are what people do on a political blog. But then maybe you just want everyone to pay up and comply with your vibrant, walkable, car free vision. Good luck with that.

Ah, that feels better.. now for a trip up Grouse to see the Eye of the Wind propeller that can power 400 homes! ( And if you believe that little porkie, I have a waterless street slide for sale, cheap).

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1:17. I've lived on the N Shore for 50 years. The rainfall so frequent and heavy that even the toughest guys walked to school with umbrellas. Frequent rainfall even through the summer. Not a hint of a Level 3 and threatened Level 4 water restriction.

I'm sure you're right. Nothing has changed from 50 years ago. The radio scientist was just another quack. Nothing to see here folks, just move on.

Anonymous said...

Or move off of the North Shore to a better place to live.

Anonymous said...

Our beautiful North Shore is being ruined by greedy developers and their puppet politicians.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's being ruined by idiots with multiple cars and a need to drive teenaged children to and from school every day. It's being ruined by people driving through our communities at speeds and volumes without regard for the people who live here. It's being ruined by people who can't pick up after themselves or carry a piece of garbage 20 feet to a waste can. It's being ruined by people who feel entitled to do whatever they like regardless of how it impacts others. It has nothing to do with development and everything with a persons regard for their community, big or small. Don't blame developers, they're only supplying a demand. Don't blame the politicians, the people elected them. Be the change you want. Don't blame others.

Anonymous said...

So Anon 12:44

"Not a hint of a Level 3 and threatened Level 4 water restriction." you say.

Oh that clinches it I guess since you found it wet too and we've always had that same number of people drawing on the reservoirs for the last 50 years.
No population growth to see here ... move along.

Now look you can continue to declare your 'belief' ever more snidely or you could go out and do some actual data mining. Teach us something. Find out what the ACTUAL precipitation over the areas that feed the reservoirs has been, draw a chart, make your point. I promise to read it if I can go find the same stuff to look at.

I don't promise to jump on whatever bandwagon you are trying to haul without some real examination of real information.

Over and definitely out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chastising. No I won't be drawing graphs for you. When the Mayor who is the Chair of the regional water board tells us that the weather change is "unprecedented" and imposes restrictions then I tend to listen.

You point about additional population is absolutely correct and also obvious.

There are only 2 variables. They are supply and demand. I entirely concur that the demand has increased and we seem to be sleepwalking forward without reigning in increasing demand by not taking action to decrease the Lower Mainland population annual increases.

On the supply side we are not seeing raising dams as they did in the Capital Region District years ago. They have no water problems even though they are even dryer than we are. No extension of lower mainland water supply to other mountain lakes proximate to the city etc.

I believe that we are a northern extension of California's devastating multi-year drought. We have agricultural experts already putting forward alternate crops and varieties of existing crops for BC farmers to cope with, what appears to be, our changing weather.

If you are right and it is much ado about nothing then that's great.

If I am right and we need to be proactive and start moving to ensuring that the supply side is enhanced and we don't do it then that is going to be a problem.

For me I would rather be proactive.

So, we wait, do very little, and see what happens. I think we're watching a slow train wreck by allowing unbridled increasing demand and not commensurately increasing supply. But that's just me.