B.C. is on pace to reduce water consumption 33 per cent by 2020, a key goal of the Water Sustainability Act that came into force on Monday.
Total water use — including residential, industrial and agricultural consumers — is down 18 per cent since 2009, from an average of 606 litres per person per day to 494, according to research led by Jordi Honey-Rosés, a professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of B.C.
Residential water use is down only 12 per cent, according to survey data covering about 66 per cent of B.C. residents.
“The good news is that water use is declining,” said Honey-Rosés. “The jury is still out on whether that decrease is due to policy changes such as water metering or other factors such as urban densification, where we are packing in more people who don’t have any outdoor water use.”
Water meters are an essential tool for wise water management, allowing governments to charge consumers based on use, evaluate the impact of policy, and identify leaks, he said. But it’s not clear that meters lead to lower consumption at the prices charged to consumers in B.C.
About one-third of B.C. single-family homes have metered water, half the Canadian average of 72 per cent. Fewer than one in five multi-family dwellings are metered in B.C.