Change the Building Code to require rainwater collection & water efficient irrigation systems
Outdoor water consumption represents a significant portion of residential water use. In particular, the watering of lawns and gardens is one of the more water intensive of outdoor water activities. Requiring installation of rainwater harvesting devices for irrigation purposes would decrease the dependence on treated water for irrigation purposes. In addition, specifying the installation of water efficient irrigation systems would further reduce water demand.
Included in the Draft Greenest City Action Plan.
Steven Forth commented
In the long term, the most sustainable approach will be to require intakes to be downstrem of outflows. We should start some pilot projects where the outflow is up to drinkable standards. In the long term, we will want to see human waste as a resource.
Let's add grey water recycling for all toilets!
I wonder if we could see an initiative like this help keep our parks green in the summer months? It's a bummer to meet friends and families to play on dirt fields midway through July! Not to mention, when the grass dries up it can have a hard time recovering again in the highly trafficked areas and turns to mud all winter.
Janine Brossard commented
It's now the beginning of August and we haven't had a drop of rain since June. I water my garden approx every 5 days from mid June to mid September. I would have used my two full rain barrels in one watering session in late June. They would have been sittng empty for the last 6 weeks. I may have got another 2 full rain barrels before the end of summer if we are lucky. They would then be used to water 1/2 of my garden in one 5 day period. My garden doesn't usally need watering during Spring, Fall or Winter when we have abundant rain. This has been the norm since we moved into our house 9 years ago.
However, I would love to use the water from my laundry and bath/shower for the garden during the summer. When I approached the City to allow us to install a greywater system during our new house construction early this year there were a lot of barriers. One being that I had to pay over $600 for an 'alternative solution request' and have it signed and sealed by a professional with no guarantee of it being approved. We have now lost the opportunity to install the plumbing, holding tank and subsoil irrigation system. Instead I will continue to use precious tap water on my garden during the dry summers. Is the City planning on making greywater installaion easier for the next generation of new buildings? Rain barrels don't seem to make a lot of sense during our Vancouver summers.
As an aside, most people do not realize that municipal water is treated with chlorine, something our plants do not appreciate. As David Suzuki recently suggested, leaving a jug of tap water at room temperature for at least half an hour allows for this chlorine to evaporate, making the water healthier to drink as well. I would like to see water meters installed "across the board" - yes - even for we multi-family residents. Education is often greatly fostered when full cost accounting is implemented. The public really needs to know how precious fresh potable water is and to be able to value it appropriately. Monthly utility bills would likely greatly help with this. I know I pay attention to my BC Hydro bills and appreciate the conservation/education tips that the company provides as well.
Steven Forth commented
This needs to be applied to roadways and parking surfaces as well. These should be permeable and act as filters (biological filters). It should also be extended to wetlands and marshes, we need more wetlands in the city as part of a sustainable, watershed-based approach to water.
If you do require or promote the collection of rainwater... education on how not to breed mosquitoes in rain collection barrels is needed.
Also, if rainwater is coming off the roof, educating folks of where not to use this water is important, (I would not use it on vegetables,fruits or herbs)
Love this idea, it's not like we're short on rain!
I'd add to this, the need for permeable ground-cover to reduce urban runoff. We could seek to source permeable surfaces (maybe recycled rubber?) for parking lots, roads, and sidewalks.
This is one of those massive, easily fixable, unsung environmental issues.
I like this idea and would like to add a additional idea to this one as my idea is linked in this in that I would like the city to push for a policy of grey water usage for at the very least toilet flushing in all new buildings and also retrofitting of all municipal, government, and private buildings that will be having renovations in the near future.
@Janna L. Sylvest's idea that was merged into this one: "to have a credible green policy, Vancouver must include water in the planning. Sound water policy would include collection of rain water. We must strive to capture and use the abundant rain fall, leaving water from the tap for drinking. Community gardens watered from the tap instead of from rain cisterns, offer mere tokenism towards the concept of “green”. Ultimately, tokenism is seen for what it is and becomes self defeating in changing citizen behaviour. All our community gardens, schools, parks and centers should include water cisterns for collection and use in watering the gardens and grounds. City building bylaws could encourage rain water collection by permitting underground cisterns in residential and commercial construction. Rain water is a renewable, sustainable, and high quality water source that can be harvested with minimal infrastructure. This is key: while we have a significant water system in our water shed, it comes at a huge infrastructure cost which we can not claim as green."
@Janna, mandating the collection of rainwater to water gardens sounds a lot like another idea already put forward. I'm going to merge the two to keep the conversation centralized. Thanks for your idea!