Ryan Macklon extracts a soil sample he’ll use in the free lawn assessments provided by local water ambassadors.

Ryan Macklon extracts a soil sample he’ll use in the free lawn assessments provided by local water ambassadors.

Trail taps into water conservation

A group of water ambassadors are encouraging residents to use water more efficiently this season.

How much water is being used changes drastically during the summer, but a group of water ambassadors are encouraging residents to use water more efficiently this season.

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) introduced a smart water program in 2009, but this is the first year that Trail has tapped into it.

Three water ambassadors have been assigned to educate communities about water conservation, as well as offer free residential landscape and irrigation system audits for the summer. There are 12 communities across the Columbia Basin that are currently participating in similar programs.

“(Their) primary goal is to reduce peak water consumption in the summer months (because) this is when the highest amount of water use occurs,” said Betty Anne Marino, promotions co-ordinator for the City of Trail. “It’s largely due to outdoor watering.”

Marnie Kavanagh (Rossland), Diana Lupieri (Montrose/Fruitvale) and Ryan Macklon have been hired to get the word out.

“I’ll be riding around on my bike basically going door to door,” said Macklon. “We’re trying to sign up people for lawn and garden assessments and we’re doing surveys about garden and water use.”

The water ambassadors conduct free lawn and garden assessments on anyone’s property. Typically this involves taking soil samples to determine the type of soil in the homeowners’ yard, which determines how owners should be watering their yards to use water more efficiently. They also run through all the zones on an automatic sprinkler system to check for any damage, including misalignment causing overspray, head to head coverage, and the pressure on sprinkler heads.

“It’s like being a consultant,” said Macklon. “We don’t do any repairs, but we can give them advice.

The local water ambassadors collaborate to create public displays and raise awareness about the importance of water conservation in the community.

“A lot of people don’t even know how their automatic sprinkler systems work, right? They just get somebody come in and install it for them and a lot of people aren’t sure of how to operate it so we can work with them and teach them how to use their system and how to use it most effectively to save water.”

Another aspect of the water ambassador job this season is to give public demonstrations about water conservation topics, including xeriscaping. Upcoming demonstrations begin at the Waneta Plaza Sidewalk Sale on June 17 between 11 a.m. and noon to 4:30 p.m. They will also be appearing at the Esplanade Market and the Rossland Farmer’s Market until the end of August.

For more information or to sign up for a free garden assessment, contact Macklon at 250-231-1142 and watersmart@trail.ca.