Wednesday morning, Londoners awoke to the news announcement that the water pipeline that supplies 85% of the city and area’s water ruptured, which caused citizens and businesses to resort to only using water held in reservoirs as well as from the other pipeline into the city, from Port Stanley on Lake Erie.

Since then, we’ve had to make do without. The City urged citizens to restrict their water use while the pipeline is repaired, going without outdoor watering/washing and keeping indoor water use to a minimum.

The pipeline has been repaired but being eased back into service slowly to ensure it is functioning properly. However, water consumption apparently actually increased above average on Thursday evening, causing the City to impose mandatory water restrictions over the weekend while they struggle to replenish the reserves. The City has said that city by-law enforcement officers will remind residents not to water outdoors, but will hand out $95 tickets for those found violating the ban.

This move from restrictions to a ban may further expose problems with City Hall’s communication strategy. I was frustrated to see neighbours washing their cars/watering their lawns last night, but many Londoners may have missed the memo. With readership of the Free Press dropping and less people watching local news, without people telling them they may not know there is a problem. I now check local media regularly, but didn’t always. Is my level of attention average, or the exception?

This ban comes at a particularly hard time for the area. It was announced this week by the Upper Thames Conservation Authority that the Thames River watershed is continuing to face drought conditions after a mild winter with little precipitation failed to replenish the watershed. We continue to see little rain, and without it this restriction makes it that much harder for residents hoping to grow gardens and keep their trees healthy this spring.

Events like this can also be a harsh reminder of just how much water we consume. We try to do what we can to restrict how much water we use, but between laundry, dishes, watering the garden/trees and showers/baths, it can all add up quickly. It has been a tough but good reminder to us just how much we depend on clean, fresh water, and everything we use it for.

The restrictions this week has also reminded us how hard it is to do without it.

Next Wednesday, national and international water conservation advocate Maude Barlow will be speaking at London’s Aeolian Hall along with London “partners in watershed protection”, specifically about the vast resources that this area of North American has in the Great Lakes.

This is just a short post on what is an enormous issue with a great deal of debate about what is appropriate use for water, restrictions/supports that should be put in place when it comes to companies that consume large quantities of water, etc. I’m really looking forward to these talks, especially when they’re being delivered at such a relevant time for our city. Hope to see you there!