Region’s water supply could be a concern

Take the water out of the name “Waterloo” and you don’t get the greatest image of this rapidly burgeoning city. However, if community members don’t start taking water conservation more seriously, there might a serious water problem in Waterloo.

Cathy MacLellan, who was the Green Party candidate for Kitchener-Waterloo in the 2011 federal election, stressed the importance of water conservation and protection.

“There are a number of strains on our water sources,” she said. “The city is taking steps to find solutions but it’s important that people become more aware of how serious this problem is.” Once water is gone, she continued, it’s gone.
“Waterloo is a rapidly growing city,” MacLellan said. “With more people comes more construction, more pavement — cement industries use a huge amount of water. But we only have so much. Should there be limits placed on how many people can move here?”

Apparently not. Eric Hodgins, Waterloo Region’s manager of hydrogeology and source water said Waterloo is “the up and coming city to target growth.”

And in fact, since the implementation of the outdoor water use bylaw in 2005 that limited people’s lawn watering to one night a week, education programs and incentives for low flush toilets, Hodgins said that the region has “certainly seen decreased demand of water even with the increased population growth of the city.”

“We are also looking for additional groundwater wells and have proposed a pipeline in 2031 that runs from Waterloo Region to Lake Erie as an additional source of water in the long term,” added Hodgins.

MacLellan does not see the pipeline as a viable solution.

“Other communities are thinking the exact same way,” she said. “What’s that saying? There are only so many straws that can take from one source?” She continued to add that not only will multiple communities be using that water, but there is also climate change and storm water to consider as impacts.

When The Cord asked Hodgins what he thought about multiple communities straining Lake Erie, he said, “It’s important to keep in mind that the great lakes are an extremely large water system. Granted, there is also a great population around them, but our small contribution isn’t going to have the biggest impact.” He added that this plan was going to have to be assessed and tested.

As well, permission will be needed from the federal government before implementation.

“Water is such a precious source,” MacLellan said passionately. “People are calling it ‘the blue gold’. Other communities are starting to think ahead about protecting and preserving their water, and I think that’s great. It’s something we should be doing too.”

Waterloo region uses approximately 180 million litres of water per day so it’s important that citizens start paying more attention to their water usage and conservation. According to Hodgins, the region is already paying close attention. “Waterloo Region uses a multi-component system and it is the most advanced in Ontario for water efficiency measures,” he said.

He went on to say that the city is working with industries to complete water audits and create low flow washing nozzles to reduce water use.

Though MacLellan was playing a little more to the side of devil’s advocate for water conservation, she did mention that there were positive steps being taken.

“This all sounds so depressing,” MacLellan said laughing. “So I want to add a little optimism. The city is taking steps and some people are starting to pay attention. The good thing is, since we waste so much, we have much greater room for improvement. I mean, if we were already doing the best we could and couldn’t improve, then I’d be worried.”