The drought is not over, regardless of a good soaking for our plants on Friday and Sunday.
Metro Vancouver’s Stage Three watering restrictions remain in force, and restrictions of greater or lesser severity are also in effect in many parts of B.C., as we cope with one of the longest dry spells in living memory.
Metro Vancouver has been reminding everyone that two days of rain does not break a drought.
The lessons they are hammering home are mostly short term. If we conserve water now, we’ll be fine through to November. That means sticking to the watering ban, taking shorter showers, and not washing the car for a few weeks.
That’s all relatively simple stuff, and the vast majority of residents will be able to stick with it.
The long term phase could be more important.
Global warming can’t be blamed for any one specific weather system, but we know that around the world, temperatures are rising and weather becoming more extreme. We will likely see more dry summers to come, and with a growing population, we’ll need to plan ahead.
That could mean expanding the sources of our water, tapping into more reservoirs. After all, even with lower water levels, we have a much smaller population and a lot more lakes than California.
It should also mean looking at permanent ways to save water, whether that’s offering more subsidies for water-efficient toilets and shower heads, to more money for repairing leaking water mains, to changing building codes.
We might also want to meter more water while we’re at it, including water that major industrial users take straight out of our aquifers. If, as we’re constantly told, we’re adding a million new residents, we need to think 25 or 50 years out into the future at a minimum. Saving water on a society-wide scale will cost a lot over time, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of running dry.