UBC Graduate Research

Uneven and unmonitored : an overview of municipal residential water conservation in BC Gill, David Ian


British Columbia has set a goal of meeting half of new municipal water needs through conservation by 2020, and residential water consumption represents over half of municipal water demand. This report discusses the state of residential water conservation in BC Municipalities, and presents recommendations to improve conservation across the province. A critical finding is the dearth of publicly available, standardized data surrounding water use and conservation in British Columbia. This report calls for the BC Government, Environment Canada, Local Governments and Researchers to address this gap by: - Adopting common standards for reporting local government water use - Collecting better data on water use, distribution and conservation through regular surveys - Developing a process for integrating randomized control trials in program effectiveness, and incorporating knowledge transfer in the program review process - Building and coordinating a database to share conservation program reviews, successes and failures This report also analyzes results from the BC Municipal Water Survey 2016 to shed light on how water conservation varies across the municipal community in British Columbia. Findings include: - There exists is a wide variety in average residential water consumption across municipalities, from 200 to 1400 liters per capita per day. - Almost all municipalities have a conservation plan, but there is a large variation in their comprehensiveness. - Having more conservation strategies is associated with lower residential water use. - Larger population size is not associated with lower water use. - Municipalities that are part of a greater water system appear to have lower water use. - Some proven conservation measures, such as normsbased messaging in billing through comparisons with neighbours, can be readily implemented with little extra investment. Limitations of this report include the cross-sectional nature of data, a limited sample size of municipalities, and a lack of randomized control trials in existing evidence. Together, these limitations draw attention to the fundamental challenge for British Columbia with regards to conservation planning: improving the quality, quantity and access to BC-specific data.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International