UBC Undergraduate Research

Water conservation in rainy Vancouver? Really? : A water conservation and water pollution awareness campaign in conjunction with the society promoting environmental conservation (SPEC) Liu, April; Mackinnon, Andrew; Mewhort, Melanie


With Metro Vancouver’s increasing fresh water demand, water conservation is becoming more important as our summers are becoming drier. Through the creation of a water conservation and water pollution prevention outreach campaign, the partnership between three students at the University of British Columbia and Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) aims to raise awareness in Metro Vancouver and change behaviour related to water consumption through informative visuals and interactive activities. A total of four deliverables have been created to assist SPEC in teaching the public about water quality and water pollution: where water comes from, where water goes after people use it, what not to put down storm drains with and why, and how much water people can save if they conserve during their showers. The four deliverables include: • An info-graphic highlighting Vancouver’s water systems • A How-To-Do-It-Yourself water conservation booklet • A citizen science water quality kit activity • A pollution jar activity that identifies pollutants in local urban waterways The info-graphic poster and water conservation booklet provide answers to how water is brought to our homes and how it is taken away, highlighting the path of water. The info-graphic poster displays a general path of Metro Vancouver's potable water, beginning at the three reservoirs, going through the residential neighbourhoods, and ending at one of the five-wastewater treatment plants (Metro Vancouver, 2015). The accompanying booklet provides additional information on the path water takes, as well as 3 manageable tips on conserving water inside and outside the home. Our visuals were enhanced through the collection and analysis of raw data collected from thirteen participants who tracked their showering habits over a seven-day period. The main finding was that the average adult living in Metro Vancouver from our study consumes approximately 19,000 litres of water annually from showering. The water quality testing kits are an interactive citizen science activity that are available to those who choose to participate, whether from business or community outreach events hosted by SPEC. The idea of the kits is to promote awareness of a few water quality parameters and link that to the potential hazards city pollutants can have on nearby watercourses. For the pollution jar activity, our team chose five pollutants that are common in local storm drain systems; cement, sediment, paint, soap and oil. These pollutants have been incorporated into a pollution mix and match game. Each jar contains one of these pollutants and the objective is to guess which pollutant is in the jar, enabling SPEC to further educate members of the public on how to keep these pollutants from entering storm drains, using an accompanying script. The various deliverables created for this water conservation and water pollution awareness outreach campaign will enhance the educational business- and eco-tours hosted by SPEC.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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