I just got back from swimming at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre (VAQ), which I do a couple times a week. I like supporting my local community centres, but once again, I found myself cursing in the shower stall. In the last year, the Park Board upgraded the shower system as part of a change room reno. The water cuts off in twelve seconds so you have to push the knob repeatedly to get rinsed off. Even if you soap up and scrub your hair with the water off, it is still impossible to rinse in twenty seconds, unless you have super hero powers.
I understand that showering for five minutes or less using a low-flow showerhead is the most water efficient way to bathe, but twelve seconds seems a bit extreme. I took a trip up the Discovery Passage with BC Ferries one year (highly recommend it) and there were pay showers aboard. I think it was a Toonie for three minutes. Plenty of time to do everything you needed to do and still keep the water use to a minimum.
My apartment suite doesn’t have a low flow toilet or shower head. I was curious about my water consumption at home, so I checked out the Go Blue One Minute Calculator. Even though I do a lot of the recommended water saving tips, like brushing my teeth with the tap off, I am still using about 77.5 thousand litres of water a year. I use a dishwasher a couple times a week, but it was the two loads of laundry and the non-low flow systems in the bathroom that really added up. The calculator did not allow for me only flushing when necessary. I’m lower than the average Canadian at 125,000 litres, but still, I could do better.
As for the Aquatic Centre, when they did the reno, they also retiled the floors and took out the troughs that allowed all the hair and other gunk to collect and helped funnel the water into the drains. Now, there’s no trough and the drains are few and far between, so you stand ankle deep in hair, water, shampoo wrappers, and other people’s soap suds, jamming that bloody knob. The floors aren’t sloped near the change stalls and lockers so flooding there is common after the cleaning lady has hosed down the floors. When the change room first re-opened, I had a chat with her. Her job is more difficult now and requires more hosing (= more water) to direct the water to the drains. Too bad they didn’t consult the janitorial staff on the re-design. I’m beginning to wonder if their strategy is to make the showering experience so bad there that we will go elsewhere. That would save water, but they might go broke with the drop in membership.
If this is really about water conservation, then don’t they have bigger holes to fill? I would be looking at that giant swimming pool and hot tub. The Kitsilano pool draws salt water from the ocean. VAQ is ocean side too, why not save water that way and give us two minutes in the shower?
Dear Park Board, please grant my wish for more wash time.