THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Hissing of Summer Lawns


In a recent twist that leaves one’s head shaking:

After haranguing us for years about wasting water — leaving it run while we brush, taking long showers, watering lawns unnecessarily — and encouraging us to upgrade to water-saving devices, we, Ottawans, listened and changed our wasteful habits. As such, Ottawa’s water consumption has diminished — so significantly, in fact, that the City recently announced it’s facing a tax revenue shortfall, because it expected water consumption rates to stay the same and budgeted accordingly. In other words, the City bet against our unwillingness to change — and lost. (Ahh, what a great feeling knowing the city has such low expectations of its citizens.)

And so, on this Throwback Thursday, we revisit an article we ran several years ago when the city banned non-essential water consumption in the south of city, which many took as a hard lesson in water conservation. But we listened! We changed! So, where’s our reward? — Rate hikes.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Originally published in the Summer 2011 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

When the city announced an outdoor water ban for the 80,000 residents of Barrhaven, Manotick, and Riverside South —    effective immediately, due to a broken water main — there was a collective gasp. No watering of lawns, no power washing of cars, no frolicking in the sprinkler. Suburbia wasunder siege! Even baby pools were verboten — though the city is   offering to subsidize the cost of rain barrels. (Care to come over for a dip in our barrel?)

Early reaction has been mixed. Yes, daycare providers questioned how they were to keep little ones cool on hot days, and plant nurseries braced for a drop in sales. But environmentalists, and even many residents, pointed out that the water ban would provide a much-needed reminder of the importance of conservation. Perhaps the times have really changed and we’re ready to put Mother Earth ahead of creature comforts. (The $500 fine doesn’t hurt.)