Let's not take the rain for granted

Last winter Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, brought a snowball to the Senate floor.

"It's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable” he said, as he threw the snowball to the Senate President.

His point. It’s cold and therefore global warming does not exist.

I’m bringing this up because it’s raining in Vancouver. It’s been raining a lot lately. Might have even seen some hail the other day. Raining so hard that my shoes are soaked (socks too), gutters are overflowing, so hard the bus driver let me on without paying (the man was concerned for my wellbeing). Raining so hard that I’ve forgotten about my goal to use less water in my daily routine.

It rains here, a lot. That’s fact. Vancouver had 1161.3 mm of total precipitation in 2012. Almost eight times the total precipitation of Los Angeles over the same period.

I think the rain makes me take water for granted. It fills our rivers, it dampens our pavement, and it feeds the forests I like strolling around in.


In July of last year Metro Vancouver implemented drought response level three - Very Dry Conditions - for the first time in 12 years, identifying the possibility of "potentially serious ecosystem or socioeconomic impacts."

Vancouver Island, the Lower Fraser and South Coast region, were categorized at level four - Extremely Dry Conditions. "Water supply insufficient to meet socio-economic and ecosystem needs."

The fall and winter of 2015 brought the rain, the reservoirs filled up, the socks got soaked and the drought was no more. Nature's solution came through. But does this natural solution make us complacent?

I worry that the rain, like the snowball and the cold weather, constrain our concerns and limit our panic about water. Is it time for us to set up the draconian, but successful, measures instituted in Los Angeles as a preventative measure? Should we panic now to lessen the panic later? 

We probably don’t act yet. We’re doing fine. We’re scheduled to start water restrictions two weeks early this year, we've reinvested in our water infrastructure, building codes are changing re water use, and our attitudes are changing too. We’re doing fine.

But every time I see it rain on snowless mountains I worry that the rain might be obstructing my view of reality. I don’t know – maybe we should panic.

Maybe on world water day [#WorldWaterDay] we should be thinking about the changing water realities in rain soaked areas as well as rain parched. Let’s work to see past the rain, past the soaked shoes and damp pavement and see the snowless mountains, the reservoirs that might not make it through the summer, and the backdrop of dramatic climate change globally.

Otherwise, we might not be doing much better than Senator Inhofe.

Cheers to World Water Day 2016.