By Art Harrison, Trail Times
After a dry start to the spring this year area residents are already turning on sprinklers to keep lawns and gardens moist but the local water ambassadors are offering to help people make sure they don’t over do it.
“We’re the positive end of water conservation,” said ambassador, Diana Lupieri.
“There’s bylaw enforcement to give out warnings once restrictions are in place, we’re just here to help with assessments and to offer alternatives and tips.”
Lupieri and her fellow ambassador, Katie Yuris, are part of the five-year-old Water Ambassador program which is jointly operated and funded by local municipalities and the Columbia Basin Trust Water Smart program.
“The program runs from May 6 until the end of August,” said Yuris. “This is really just our first week but we already have five assessments scheduled.”
Yuris is responsible for offering water use assessments and advice in Trail, while Lupieri, who was an ambassador last year, will be working in the Beaver Valley, Salmo, and Rivervale.
“First we put out door knockers, tags offering assessments left on door knobs, and if we see anyone in their yards we’ll approach them,” said Lupieri. “We do get some calls in the office but knocking on doors is more efficient.”
The ambassadors will come to households and do an assessment of the lawns and gardens to determine soil type, the various plant life, and how much water the existing watering systems are using.
They can then offer recommendations on how much water is needed for the yard and how their sprinklers can be used most effectively to optimize water usage.
To assist conscientious homeowners to monitor and reduce unnecessary water use the Water Smart program offers free automatic shut-off hose timers as well as rainfall sensors that can be used in conjunction with underground sprinkler systems that will shut down the system when rainfall is detected.
“We’ll be attending community events like Beaver Valley May Days and the Farmer’s Market in Trail,” said Lupieri.
“We’re going to be raffling off things like this lovely watering can, a dual flush toilet converter, and drought tolerant plants that are native to this area.”
The ambassadors will also be providing assessments to municipalities looking at parks to monitor water consumption and making sure sprinkler systems are working efficiently.
“The program started because communities requested funding for water conservation programs from the Columbia Basin Trust,” explained Lupieri.
“Efficient water usage reduces pressure on infrastructure and doing that reduces costs for the municipality and taxes for households. The basic principle is to use only what you need and protect the resource for future generations.”