Charlottetown water use lowest in 20 years

Water use in Charlottetown has dropped significantly over the past 11 years, and the city says its water meter program and a focus on public awareness seem to be paying off.

Even with population growth, water consumption is down more than 10 per cent since 2008 peak

Charlottetown residents and businesses are using less water, and the city says its programs and awareness campaigns seem to be paying off. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Water use in Charlottetown has dropped significantly over the past 11 years, and the city says its water meter program and a focus on public awareness seem to be paying off.

The city's water consumption was at its peak in 2008, when it hit 7.1 million cubic metres. In 2019, the rate was down to just under 6.2 million cubic meters — dipping below the consumption rate in 1999.

"With the growth that the city has seen over the last 20 years, that's a remarkable accomplishment," said Coun. Jason Coady, chair of the city's water and sewer committee.

"It's a great example of what happens when everybody kind of works together."

Water meter program a success 

In 2015, the city began rolling out a mandatory water-meter program, with the initial target of having meters installed in all homes by the end of 2019. 

The city's water consumption peaked in 2008, and has now dipped below 1999 levels. (City of Charlottetown)

While the city did not quite meet that goal, Coady said there remain only a "very small number of non-metered residents," and he hopes to see all customers hooked up soon. 

He said the metering program has been a success in reducing household and business consumption.

"When you get your bill you can see how much you used and what you're paying."

He also credits customers and businesses "understanding that it's not an unlimited resource. The due diligence that they have on their part to reduce their water use has gone a long way." 

He believes the city's education campaigns, as well as programs such as rebates for installing low-flow toilets and shower heads have helped to create a conversation around water use in the city, and a focus on water conservation.

City in 'great shape'

In 2018, the city completed work on a new well field, in Miltonvale Park, in order to meet demands and ease pressure on the city's other three well fields.

Water and sewer committee chair Jason Coady says based on current consumption levels, the city's water supply is in good shape going forward. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

For years there have been concerns about water levels in the Winter River, the city's main water source. 

With the fourth well field up and running, and the water consumption trending down, Coady is optimistic about the city's water capacity for years to come.  

"The city is in great shape going forward," he said. 

"To be honest with you, looking at the trend, if we had kept going where we were going in 2008, we'd probably be sitting here talking about another new water field, and we're not doing that."

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