John McKinley, Cowichan News Leader, July 16 2014
A caped crusader has emerged to save Cowichan from the clutches of this summer's drought.
The kickoff to the Cowichan Water Challenge Saturday was interrupted by the arrival of a hero clad in blue tights.
No, Phil Kent wasn't doing his Clark Kent imitation, it was Water Woman with a message for all citizens of Cowichan.
"Since I left the valley many years ago I have travelled the world. I was in Australia when I heard a biologist mention the wonderful work the Cowichan Watershed Board was doing and the grave situation our great river is facing this year. When I heard that, I knew I had to come home," she said, striding purposefully out the doors of Duncan city hall.
"So I climbed into a bottle of Australian wine and eventually found myself here. In my travels I saw a similar situation to the one we have here and I learned from masters how a community can overcome challenges like this."
Local officials told her about how all Cowichan communities have been challenged to meet or beat Ladysmith's success in conservation. Water meters, volume based pricing, an aggressive leak detection and public education program, rebates for low-flush toilets and early onset watering restrictions have resulted in a 25% reduction in water use there in the past decade, despite 23% growth.
She also heard how Lake Cowichan and Duncan are adding water metering, and how 'Water Warrior' and the 'Saving Some for the Salmon' lawn signs being offered people exhibiting heroic water conservation behaviour.
"That's a good start, but we need everyone pitching in," Water Woman said. "Starting today I am asking every resident of the Cowichan region to make a pledge to save water."
At her behest, gathered officials donned capes and went out into the streets asking people to pledge to: test toilets for leaks; wait for full load to run dishwashers/washing machines; let lawns go brown; turn off water when brushing teeth and rinsing dishes; respect watering restrictions, and mulch trees and garden plants.
"This is a really big job, I can't do it alone. Water Woman needs some side-kicks," she said. "Can I have some volunteers? We really need your help I am counting on all of you. Remember, Water Woman is watching you."
Learn more about the challenge here or at the Cowichan Watershed Board's Facebook page.