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Whistler's water use on the rise

2010 results for Whistler2020 Monitoring Report now available

Whistler can't quench its insatiable thirst for water.

Water use in the resort is at an all time high for the last decade and it's hard to pinpoint the reasons why it keeps going up.

"This is the highest water use seen in Whistler in the past ten years," reported Erin Romanchuk to council Tuesday evening at its regular meeting.

Romanchuk is the sustainability planning assistant for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and delivered a high level report to council on the 2010 Whistler2020 Monitoring Report.

In some areas, like water use, Whistler is getting a failing grade, whereas in other areas such as visitor satisfaction, the news is generally better.

The monitoring report is what Mayor Ken Melamed called the annual "dashboard" to gauge how the community is moving towards its long term vision of being the premier mountain resort community as it moves towards sustainability.

The report stated: "Overall the core indicators are trending away from the community's vision for the future."

Council had little comment on the report overall other than to ask questions about water usage.

Average water use per person was 558-litres per day in 2010, significantly higher than Whistler's Environmental Strategy target of 425-litres per day.

Romanchuk said in her research she found Canmore is using 398-litres per day.

"Whistler is using a lot of water, to say the least," she said.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth queried the high usage wondering if it is due to snowmaking or the bobsleigh track?

Not likely, said staff, because the water being calculated is potable water. It's hard to measure where the water usage is coming from without meters.

Though there are meters in Whistler, and have been on new developments since the early '90s, Whistler doesn't charge for water usage based on the meter readings.

Harry Kim, the municipality's general manager of environmental services, said staff is looking at the meters to collect data.

"This has been on our radar for a number of years," Kim told council.

He also pointed to sprinkler use as a culprit.

"We're currently looking at that situation as well."

Water use, however, is just one of dozens of indicators that make up the annual monitoring report.

Of the five sections of the Whistler 2020, Protecting the Environment and Ensuring Economic Viability had the poorest performances.

Like water use, Whistler's material use is up. That is, materials consumed in Whistler. Over one tonne per person was used then landfilled, reused, composted or recycled.

"This is the largest amount of materials used in Whistler to date," stated the report.

Total energy use is up too. This includes the energy used to create electricity, generate space and water heating/cooling, transportation energy for some of the larger fleet vehicles and intra-community transportation.

In the Ensuring Economic Viability section, total occupancy decreased on a three-year average though the year-to-year winter results increased between 2008/09 and 2009/10. There are slightly fewer heads in beds with the three years average trend to 2010 decreasing slightly. Year over year results from 2009 to 2010 decreased during both seasons.

On the flip side, there were positive indicators to report as well that move Whistler towards its long-term vision.

Summer visitor satisfaction results in particular were quite high, increasing on a three-year average to 2010.

"These are the highest satisfaction levels that we've seen in the last five years," said Romanchuk.

The results are now available at .