Council reconsiders its rejection of the CBT’s Water Smart Initiative

By David F. Rooney

City Councillors have reconsidered their earlier rejection of the Columbia Basin Trust’s Water Smart Initiative after the CBT’s director of Water and the Environment said there “may be some confusion over what the CBT is doing with this program.”

“To be clear the primary purpose of the program is to create customized community-specific targets and water conservation plans,” Kindy Gosal said in an e-mail to Revelstoke Mayor David Raven. “By doing so we (CBT) hope to collectively reach some regional conservation goals.”

During its last formal meeting on Dec. 8 Council┬árejected an opportunity to participate in the Columbia Basin Trust’s Water Smart Initiative largely due to what was perceived as its call for the city to help reduce Basin-wide water consumption b y 20 per cent b y 2015.

“Maybe we should look for a made-in-Revelstoke solution,” Councillor Phil Welcok said during Council’s discussion at the time.

His concern was echoed by both senior staff and other councillors.

“While the wording of the (Water Smart) Charter commitment does not state that the City will fully reduce domestic consumption by 20 per cent, the City will be expected to make significant reductions,” said a report to Council by Brian Mallett, director of Engineering and Public Works.

“The biggest problem is that it would accelerate our own plans,” Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt said on Dec. 8. “It’s too fast for us.”

The City had originally applied on Nov. 24 to participate in the program, which will select 10 communities from among the applicants to participate. Each selected community would receive $5,000 they must match, access to shared resources and technical expertise to help reduce their water consumption.

The Water Smart Initiative also has a charter that calls for water consumption to be reduced by 20 per cent b y 2015 and it is that commitment that scared off City Council earlier this month.

Now Gosal says “communities selected for the program are not expected to accelerate their local programs or increase what they believe to be acceptable community conservation targets.”

In his e-mail, which was sent to Raven on Dec. 18, Gosal said he would be in Revelstoke on Jan. 21 and would like to discuss the issue further.

In light of Gosal’s e-mail, Council has now directed City staff to contact him, clarify exactly what the Water Smart Initiative involves and to report back to Council.