Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘water

Weekly Photo Challenge: Elemental

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Posted in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Elemental

Earth, water and fire – but neither of those in the third category are actually what I wanted. I was quite surprised that there is nothing of mine that is a photo of a fire. Of course, right now we are still socked in by the smoke from the BC wildfires – but that looks like nothing at all. Just a white haze.

Maybe I will get lucky later if I actually follow the original instruction “as you pick up your camera this week.” All of these come from the archives!


So posting a picture of “air” is pretty much impossible – but I have a picture of a willow tree in strong wind at Kits Beach and I did find these pictures of the impact of strong winds

Snapped off

Another wreck

Hadden Park stranding

The wind in its leaves

And one of actual flames (from a gas fire)


and a beach bonfire

Bonfire on Okanagan Beach

So there we have all four elements – earth, water, wind and fire!

Written by Stephen Rees

August 9, 2017 at 9:53 am

Drip, drip: the sound of water and money down the drain

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Carey Doberstein presents the case for water metering.

Basically the case is made that making consumers pay for the extra $50m that water meters will cost is worthwhile as it will save uncounted costs in expanding infrastructure to meet demand.

I would find that argument more convincing if something was also added about how much water the system itself wastes, but it is true that infrastructure investments tend to be at least an order of magnitude greater than the cost of water meters. It is certainly more compelling than the suggestion that we need to conserve water here because there are shortages of water elsewhere. I am also less than happy with the idea that consumers have to pay more for water to stop them using it so that it can be sold by private sector companies that stand to make vast profits out of what is (or should be) a commonly held resource. It is our water and does not belong to the bottlers or the power exporters – or some future bulk water shippers.

There is also a need to ensure that if we are obliged to pay for metered water from the mains we be allowed to use water in ways that are more efficient, which are currently prohibited by building codes and other municipal policies and regulations. So the reuse of grey water and the collection of rainwater – as well as the use of systems that allow rain water to percolate back into the soil rather than flush municipal sewers and storm drains would be necessary too. Indeed, one of the features of good design that was common to every charrette that I have been to has related to water treatment – which is as important to smart growth as walkability.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 9, 2008 at 8:26 am

Posted in regional government, Urban Planning, water

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B.C. aims to cut water use

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The province wants us to save water. I wonder why? There is no mention of the rush for new run of the river hydro schemes – all designed to put money into the pockets of investors by selling power to the US.

There is also no mention of the role of municipal water systems – and how old infrastructure wastes vast amounts of water every day. Leaky old pipes are not being replaced as a money saving measure. And again there is no mention of the province using some of its huge surplus to invest in better infrastructure.

Plus, of course, we live on the wet coast – this used to be a temperate rain forest. You might have noticed that it rains here. And that our reservoirs do not have enough capacity to meet demand year round, but much of the time are simply spilling water over the dams. We are also not allowed to use grey water systems for tasks like flushing toilets. It offends against the building code. As do most systems that would allow us to build in a way that retained water on site. Once again I refer to the subdivision that Patrick Condon helped design that reused all its water, and had very advanced drainage systems but had to have a duplicate, expensive and completely unnecessary municipal system added, to satisfy the code.

Yes as consumers we can do more, but why it is always the easy path – to spend small sums on hectoring the populace with silly ideas like “if its yellow let it mellow” – when major shifts in the way we do planning, building and regulating development are actually needed? Because its easy that’s why. Not effective. Cycle along any Vancouver bikeway in summer, any non sprinkling day and count how many people are watering the sidewalks and driveways. There are by laws and regulations already that cover that but compliance is spotty at best.

Buy a rain barrel by all means. Do not use fresh drinking quality water to wash your car. Plant native species instead of Kentucky blue grass – then you can get rid of that horrible gas mower too! There is stuff we can do. But mostly government needs to put its own house in order before it starts hectoring us. Do the loos in your local school flush all the time – even when no-one is there?

Written by Stephen Rees

June 4, 2008 at 9:29 am

Posted in Environment

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