water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink

by underswansea

RCE_0252Toby Creek, 2015. There is less runoff in 2016.

Our family garden is important to us. For the past 24 years it has provided our family with good wholesome food throughout the summer, fall and winter.

We have always shared produce with several other families. Now our kids have left home we have even more to share.

Gardens like ours were once commonplace in the District of Invermere, but now are rare. People don’t garden as they once did. For one, land is expensive. Many large lots have been subdivided and the garden plot becomes another dwelling.

I come from a long line of gardeners. Gardening was done out of necessity. Back in my grandparent’s day it was a matter of being able to eat.

Today, it is a matter of having access to good food.

Water usage is also a concern to gardeners within the District of Invermere.

An advertisement in last week’s newspaper stated Invermere is still under Stage 2 Water restrictions, carried forward from last year. The District has lost use of one of its reservoirs, and run off, again, has been low.

I am in favor of water restrictions, water meters, water rates and any other method aimed at conserving water. The past two years have been very dry. It is possible draught conditions may become commonplace in the future.

While planting I try to avoid plants that need excessive moisture. I tend to stick to the tried and true, plants that can wilt and take the sun. I try to keep the soil in a condition that will hold moisture.

It is not that difficult. Stage Two Water Restrictions allow us to water twice a week for a few hours. I find it is enough for the garden.

As for the lawn and trees, well, they suffer, but so what, our lawn is yellow from July to October.

Here is my problem; the District, School District and other institutions, do not adhere to there own water restrictions. Last year, I witnessed green spaces being irrigated nightly!

With so much water being put on these lawns they also had to be mowed more than weekly, another waste of resources.

Last fall, I contacted Mayor and Council about my concerns. I received a short note from Mayor Taft and an email from, Chief Administrative Officer, Chris Prosser.

As for, councillors Anderson, Denchuk, Atterbury and Miller, I didn’t hear a peep out of them. These are the same guys that stand on your step at election time and tell you, if you have any concerns don’t hesitate to contact them.

In Mr. Prosser’s reply, he defended the District’s practices and ended his note saying it’s impossible to make everybody happy.

He also said, the School District has explored possibilities of being exempt from the Water Restriction Bylaw.

I wasn’t sure if that meant they were exempt. They irrigated like they were exempt.

Last fall, I contacted the School District Operations Managers to confirm this, however, they did not reply to my emails.

I have worked with both Steve Jackson, Director of Operations and Brian Nickurak, Operations Supervisor for School District No. 6., and was not surprised they couldn’t be bothered to answer my question.

Regarding the School District, I hope Mayor and Council explore alternatives before an exemption is officially granted. Perhaps the District can assist them with acceptable irrigation management.

Before water meters were installed, many District of Invermere residents irrigated lawns throughout the entire night. It was unnecessary and wasteful, but water was free. After meters were installed and there was a cost to water (however minimal) this practice stopped.

Now the only ones engaged in the practice of watering throughout the entire night are the District of Invermere and School District #6.

What we are talking about here is putting millions of litres of  treated water on grass so it stays green!

My suggestion isn’t to let every public green area go brown. Only that water usage can be better managed. If lawns need to be mowed more than once a week, as many in the District do, it is a sign of over irrigation. Strategies to rectify this situation can be implemented now, without significant capital cost.

The District of Invermere has asked citizens to be mindful of water usage. It is only reasonable the District and School District No.6 ask the same of it self and become a leader in water conservation.