Water conservation program deemed too costly for town
By Chris Simon Innisfil Scope April 21 2010
Implementing a town-wide water conservation program would be too costly to the municipality, according to a report released by Innisfil’s wastewater superintendent.
Over the last few months, town staff have been investigating the feasibility of creating a water conservation program for the municipality. A program could include incentives for residents who use the municipal water and sewer system, if they upgrade to high efficiency fixtures like low flow toilets and shower heads.
Although the program would help encourage a reduction in water usage, it could cost the municipality about $1.6 million to implement, said superintendent Wesley Cyr.
“Given the cost to implement a retrofit program and the total estimated reduction, the net value benefit to the municipality would be minimal, if any,” he said, noting all homes built after 1996 already contain ultra low-flush toilets. “A study of other water conservation programs identified a reduction of 55 litres per day per household. The total flow decrease results in 90,337 cubic metres per year. This translates into a .028 per cent annual flow reduction at the (town’s) Lakeshore Wastewater Treatment Plant.”
Town council asked staff to prepare the report in September, in an effort to reduce costs for residents hooked up to the municipal system. Each town resident currently uses about 300 litres of water per day, well below the 450 the municipal system is designed to support.
Over 5,100 homes — about 11,000 residents — are connected to the municipal system.
As part of the report, staff will investigate the feasibility of implementing a ‘fixture retrofit program’ for Cookstown. The village may actually benefit from that program, to free up water and wastewater capacity during anticipated seasonal flow spikes.
“The logic behind the collection flows, and the reason for not wanting to implement that, I agree,” said councillor Lynn Dollin.
“The retrofit in Cookstown would be a worthwhile venture. There’s not a single home that’s been constructed after 1996.”
Eventually, there could be pressure to implement a conservation program as the town’s population grows, said Cyr.
“The most prevalent motivating factor for municipalities to implement a water conservation rebate program is the inability to provide sufficient capacity in treatment plants (in order to satisfy growth demands) without expansions,” said Cyr. “Although a long-term conservation strategy involving high efficiency fixtures is recommended, implementation of such a program today would produce minimal positive results.”
Any program should also include tiered water rates, which would reward lower usage, said Cyr.
Last year, council approved a water conservation awareness program for the municipality. It granted staff permission to implement lawn watering restrictions, when necessary. Staff will also monitor water usage trends, to help develop awareness programs and restrictions, and investigate alternative methods for conservation. The program could eventually lead to the installation of security locks on fire hydrants, and back-flow prevention devices on water supply lines.
Staff would also be required to provide information on water conservation methods to local residents.