Rain barrels, composters distributed as part of sustainability program

Members of city council and staff joined volunteers to distribute the units from the Kin Arena starting at 10 a.m. this morning. The city purchased the units after garnering enough interest from the public to secure an order large enough to get a significant discount on the price.

Kevin Henderson, director of infrastructure and sustainability for the city, said they were looking for a way to encourage water conservation in the city.

“It’s very easy to look at our records and see in the summertime, during watering months, our water usage is considerably higher, and we know that goes to gardens,” he said. “We’re just trying to find ways we can help our residents out to continue to water them when we have water restrictions, and to help them save a little bit of money on their water bill.”

He added the composters certainly help divert waste that would normally go into the region’s landfills.

Henderson said he even picked up a rain barrel for his own home.

“My wife has quite a flower garden, so it only makes sense to try and conserve through rain water.”

He said given the success of this program, there has already been some discussion on implementing a similar program to incentivise the purchase of low-flush toilets.

“I think there’s another huge opportunity to save water,” said Henderson. “It’s a considerable savings to go with a low-flush toilet, and people will see that on their water bills.”

“Ultimately, that’s what we want, is to see a reduction in use,” he added. “It is way cheaper for us to conserve water than to seek out new water (sources).”

He added Melanie Turcotte, sustainability clerk for the city, deserves a lot of credit for putting the program together by reaching out to the public to secure enough interest, and organizing volunteers to help distribute the units.

“I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical originally, but the uptake was there and it was good, and we wouldn’t have got there for sure if we didn’t have Melanie getting out there and reaching out to people.”

EnCana also helped out to secure the order by purchasing 45 units each of the rain barrels and composters to distribute to not-for-profit groups, schools and churches.

“It’s a way to be active in the community, and looking at little ways to help out is a huge way the company works,” said Jason Gowda, a surface lands representative for EnCana who was helping to distribute units this afternoon.

Tom Gannon was at the arena this afternoon to pick up three rain barrels – two for his cabin and one for his home in Dawson Creek. He said he already has a couple at home, but he was looking to increase his storage capacity so that his wife can water the flowers in her garden and they both save a little money.

“The price is right, and every little bit helps. I think it’s a good idea,” said Gannon of the program.

Also at the arena today, Jen Brocke and Jen Pimm, two eco-advisors with the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT) were putting on a compost workshop for interested members of the public.

“Composting is so easy to do. You don’t even need a commercial composter to compost,” said Brocke, adding there are different ways to make homemade composters, or to just keep a compost pile on a yard for rural residents.

She said some people,  especially in rural areas, are hesitant to compost because they think it’s going to attract bears and other animals, but she said that is not a problem if done correctly. She said you should not put meats, bones, or dairy products into a composter, but newspaper, grass clippings, sawdust and even pet hair can be composted, along with produce.

“Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of your household waste that is going to the landfill,” said Brocke. “If the average family composted everything they could, they could reduce anywhere between 30 to 50 per cent of what would normally go into their garbage. If they recycle everything they can on top of that, you can get your waste reduction to about 90 per cent.”

“Taxpayers are paying for the landfills, and we want them to last as long as possible,” she added.

Pimm added if people are interested in purchasing  composters but did not sign up for the City of Dawson Creek’s program, they can be purchased at the NEAT office in Fort St. John for $85, or they can at many retail outlets as well. She also encouraged the public to go online to www.neat.ca to find out more about composting and other waste reduction and energy-saving information.