When I was in Tofino recently, I wanted to find out how they had resolved their water storage problem. Back in 2006, they famously ran out of water at the height of tourist season. The town of around 1,600 Tofitians swells to about 6,000 during the summer months, a time when water demand is highest and rainfall at its lowest. Tofino gets about three metres of rain each year, but that is not where the municipal water supply comes from. While there I chatted with Aaron Rodgers, the Manager of Community Sustainability and learned that they had basically dug a deeper hole at their reservoir site on Meares Island. They also raised water rates which kind of backfired. Resorts started installing their own grey water systems, rainbarrels and cisterns. On the one hand great, on the other hand, the District didn’t get the money they needed to pay for infrastructure improvements.
They have watering restrictions that kick in during dry months. And the hotels all have signage that reminds guests to take it easy on the water. The Green Business Initiative, headed up by the Raincoast Education Society should help resorts coordinate their efforts to implement sustainable business practices. Along with, energy reduction and sustainable purchasing, water conservation is a key area. Pacific Sands Beach resort removed all their automatic watering systems and now only use rainwater for the landscaped areas. Crystal Cove also uses rainwater to water the grounds. Both Pacific Sands and Ocean Village Resort installed low-flow shower heads in all units. Crystal Cove has low flush toilets. So far there are only four resorts participating (the three aforementioned plus Wickaninnish), but they hope to bring more on board.
Tofitians are proud of their water too. “It’s delicious. You can drink it right out of the tap,” several locals told me. And it was true. Not a hint of chlorine taste when I partook of the water. Hopefully visitors who come to “take the waters” at nearby Hot Springs Cove, will be more conscious of the need to conserve this pristine resource. And cross your fingers that all those resorts will start recycling all that hot tub water.