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Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Water ban is necessary (Kitchener, Ontario)
Published March 9, 2007

There will no doubt be some people upset with Waterloo Region council's 11-5 vote this week to make temporary lawn-watering restrictions permanent.

Well, sort of permanent. Bylaws can always be changed. But council's decision to regulate watering for the foreseeable future seems to be at least worth trying. The restrictions haven't caused any major problems in the past two summers they have been in place. And it may well be time for residents to get used to taking a measured approach to conserving precious water supplies.

This is particularly true as the need for a Great Lakes water pipeline looms on the horizon. The restrictions that have limited lawn-watering to once a week reduced peak summer water demand by at least 20 million litres a day, a reduction of 8.5 per cent.

If that continues, regional staff say a pipeline may not be needed until 2034 to accommodate growth, rather than in 2029 as earlier projected.

Some councillors, like Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, were opposed to the motion to make the restrictions permanent, calling it premature and saying it would be better to simply persuade people to conserve more. Yes, that would be better. But it may not work.

As Coun. Sean Strickland said: "We need to move to a culture of conservation. Sometimes, in order to achieve that, you need to regulate." Indeed, even with regulations in place, more than 500 residents and businesses were warned about unlawful lawn-watering in the last two summers.

That's not a good omen for voluntary compliance.

The restrictions were largely precipitated by a drop of five per cent in the water supply due to a chemical contamination in Kitchener. That problem should be fixed by next year. But, in the meantime, the region has found the sky didn't fall with moderate watering restrictions in place. Rules and regulations aren't always welcome, but the region has shown flexibility in applying them.

And, collectively, we're likely better off with some regulation.



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