Month of ... what?... can’t hear you ...?
June is Québec’s Month of Water. This is a provincial/municipal event, one declared by the National Assembly in June of last year, 2017. You hadn’t heard?
Certainly no one knew the month and its rationale, at least not from anything the National Assembly did. This is another example of the province downloading responsibilities – and their costs – to the municipalities, without funding. Without spending even a little, how do our MNAs expect these campaigns will be successful? If no one hears of them – how is that a success, Honourable Deputies?
We have a “Month of Water” because clear and plentiful water is an expensive service rendered by municipal governments to their citizens. Gatineau estimates that in the summer when water use is highest, this service costs the city (all taxpayers) at least $40,000 per day. Yup, per day.
Summer does require more water – from hydrating ourselves with clean tap water (except in a few neighbourhoods!), to showers and baths, watering lawns and gardens, and, finally, for washing cars, driveways, even the sides of buildings. Imagine how much filtered, chlorinated water washes down driveways to city drains.
Gatineau calculates that 50% to 80% of its purified water goes to fill pools and water lawns. That’s $20,000 to $35,000 of our tax dollars, per day. No wonder the legislators want to reduce our water use.
The city’s most effective means has been alternate watering days. This limits daily use of water on exterior uses, but it is hardly enough to dent the rising demand from both new residences and from our growing sense of entitlement that we have some sort of right to waste water in any way we wish. I wish those folks would move elsewhere, frankly. No one in the world has such an entitlement. Water is a wealth, therefore it’s limited, and being a processed resource, it is expensive to make. There’s no entitlement, except at the most basic levels.
And the question of using drinking water for non-necessary purposes is only part of this puzzle. The biggest part is not the actual doing (wasting) but our awareness that we are wasting this resource and wasting our own tax dollars when we throw our water away. Awareness has to be top-of-mind every time we turn on a faucet.
Awareness is something that has to be taught, with constant refresher-messaging. Shouldn’t our city be more proactive than a plain notice in the media with the expectation that citizens will search our city’s website for bylaws and rules on watering? Since when are we taxpayers expected to search out our government’s decisions, rules and regulations? Shouldn’t governments be proactive on such an important and costly file, using all the relevant media to make sure everyone gets the message?
And shouldn’t that proactivity reach back to where it all began, the National Assembly? Shouldn’t Quebec be funding this demand, just one of many that it makes on our cities and towns?