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COLUMN: Working on water conservation

The heat of summer has arrived for the second — or is it third time round? — and has all of us thinking about water conservation.
Mayor Deb Kozak is seen at centre with a crew from the Nelson Izushi Friendship Society at their garden in Cottonwood Falls Park last week.

Water, let’s talk water. The heat of summer has arrived for the second — or is it third time round? — and has all of us thinking about water conservation. At this time of year both Selous and Anderson Creeks have diminished greatly and we rely solely on Five Mile Creek.

Selous and Anderson run dry each year, typically later in September. By “dry” we mean the creek may still be trickling but the level will have dropped so much that we start pulling in large air bubbles that cause issues and requires the source to be shut off. In a good year we do not need to use the secondary sources and can rely totally on Five Mile.

When the first heat wave hit, our water consumption spiked dramatically and the call went out to conserve and follow the rules on water usage. The residents of Nelson responded quickly. We have dropped from a high of 68,000 cubic meters in June to 46,000 cubic meters. If you are wondering just how much a cubic meter of water is, picture a one-litre carton of milk and multiply that by 1,000. With this newest heat wave, we’re asking all of you to keep up the good work.

This doesn’t mean you can’t water your gardens; it means you do it on alternate days before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., even house numbers on even days and odd house numbers on odd days. You can also water your lawn, but once per week on Wednesday or Thursday depending on your number. Your gardens and lawns will still thrive and there will be enough water for everyone. Details can be found here. You can also contact the city’s water smart ambassador to provide a free sprinkling assessment and receive a free hose timer or rain gauge. Call 250-352-8102

I recently listened to an interview on CBC’s The 180 regarding urban lawns and green spaces. The ten-minute interview included information on about the importance of not overwatering, but also the importance of not letting grasses and plants completely die off. Carbon sequestration in plants and grasses plays an important part in how urban landscapes control GHG emissions. You can listen here. I’d be interested in hearing what you think about this interview.


With the heat, I think we’re all reminded of how important our community parks are. They are beautiful, cool, green places that provide respite from the hot days. I know that the city is very grateful for the support of service clubs in the development and maintenance of our parks. We would not be able to accomplish as much as we do without that support. I visited the Shuzenji Friendship Garden at Cottonwood Falls Park last week.

These gardens were designed, created and have been maintained through the efforts of the Izushi Society and its leader Jim Sawada since 2003. Jim and park designer Hiro Okusa were there with a small crew, renovating pathways, pruning trees and weeding.

Jim informed me the society is struggling, members have left and the society will most likely fold. Jim is 80 and very concerned about the future of the garden and he’s asked for our help. Mr. Okusa, the designer, has travelled from Vancouver every year to oversee and continue the work of developing the gardens. He presented me with the beautifully hand-drawn plans and described the progress that has been made and his hopes for completion. He as well is nearing the end of his time in his volunteer work.

We looked around, spoke for a long while and came up with ideas for supporting this work. The city will be developing the neighbourhood plan for Railtown in the upcoming months and the park will play an important role in this neighbourhood. I am also aware of other societies connected to this park and will call on them for help. Jim’s legacy and the legacy of the Izushi Society are an important part of the fabric of Nelson and with this article I know many of you will step forward with your support.


When a group of residents stepped forward with the idea of having a voters challenge, city council leapt on the idea and said yes. Letters inviting all local governments to participate have gone out. Nelson city council is betting we will win by having the largest percentage voter turnout in the Oct. 19 federal election.

And if organizer Mike Chapman gets his wish, we will have CBC television personality Rick Mercer come to town to celebrate with the winner. If you have not registered as a voter yet, do it, and let’s win this! It’s our opportunity to exercise choice and elect a government that will lead us into the future.

I enjoy hearing from you and encourage you to email me at

Nelson mayor Deb Kozak shares this space weekly with her council colleagues.