UBCO research shows low density neighbourhoods use way too much water - InfoNews

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UBCO research shows low density neighbourhoods use way too much water

A recent UBCO study says residents living in high-density neighbourhoods are using way too much water keeping their yards green in the summer.
August 16, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - A UBC Okanagan student’s research shows that higher density communities use much less water than single family homes.

Gyan Kumar Chhipi Shrestha is a Ph.D. candidate with the school of engineering at UBCO, according to a media release. He recently published his research on the cost of water distribution systems, comparing homes in higher density neighbourhoods, to low density, single family homes.

“The densities of neighbourhoods affect water demand, and we’re looking for an optimal density,” Chhipi Shrestha says in the release. “We wanted to find a balance between increased density and decreased water consumption.”

UBC Okanagan researcher Gyan Chhipi Shrestha
UBC Okanagan researcher Gyan Chhipi Shrestha
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Along with research supervisor Professor Kasun Hewage, Chhipi Shrestha studied a neighbourhood under development in Peachland, and compared 11 different design options of both single and multi-family homes with various population densities.

Chhipi Shrestha’s findings showed that single-family homes dedicate 40 to 60 per cent of their property to landscaping, and therefore use much more water.

According to his research, in the peak of summer, Okanagan residents use on average 1,000 litres of water per person, per day, compared to the national average of 340 litres per person, per day. This is largely due to how much residents water their lawn and yard.

“The Okanagan Valley is a semi-arid region and even though we have lots of lakes, the valley also has the lowest amount of freshwater available in Canada,” Chhipi Shrestha says. “At the same time, we have one of the highest per capita use of domestic water in the country.”

Chhipi Shrestha’s findings show that to reduce the amount of water used, medium to high-density buildings, in urban neighbourhoods, should be constructed.

“Water, energy, and carbon emissions are important elements of urban water sustainability; these elements are interconnected,” says UBCO’s associate dean of engineering Rehan Sadiq, who co-supervised the study. “And neighbourhood densification is a strategy primarily applied to reduce per capita infrastructure and land requirement and densification also affects residential landscaping and water systems.”


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