It’s October. It’s raining, it’s pouring. The weather, it’s boring.
But for Sonya Jenssen of Waterwoman Consulting, when it’s raining in the Comox Valley she’s excited. All that rain, it’s helping us meet our water security needs.
Sonya’s an international water expert. Like many other talented people who’ve chosen to call this place home, she came for quality of community and quality of life, not because of a job. Our emerging water security issues, however, are inspiring the entrepreneur in Sonya.
Entrepreneurs see pain points as opportunities to apply creative thinking. Water quality issues in the Comox Valley are a big pain point, not just an inconvenience.
“This is an important issue for our community,” she says. Our biggest source of clean, fresh water is Comox Lake. All of that water is monitored and licensed by the Ministry of Environment. We can’t just drain the lake to quench our domestic thirst, because most of the water flowing out of the lake is required to keep rivers and streams functioning as fish habitat. Of the remaining of water flowing down the Puntledge River for domestic uses, fire fighting, washing of cars, sprinkling of lawns, garden irrigation all vie with our needs for potable water.
When a boil water advisory comes into effect, it’s more than a nuisance. Tourism and lifestyle are a significant part of our local economy. A boil water advisory puts additional strain on a food and entertainment sector already working with thin margins.
So it’s a case of “water water everywhere,” but less and less to drink. And while it’s good that October rains are recharging our lakes and streams, water security is “more complicated than most people understand.”
Sonya’s expertise is in public education. Her work has taken her around the world – the Middle East, Norway, and beyond – but her heart is in the Comox Valley. She knows that when people don’t understand an issue as complex as water security, and especially when we seem to be inundated with water water everywhere, we’re less likely to be part of the solution.This fall she’s chosen our community to be the pilot in an innovation in water security education.
Working with with local street photographer Craig Carson, Sonya is producing a calendar combining technical information with a street photographer’s view of the Comox Lake water system. “We need to bring a creative lens to these issues,” she says. She’ll also be working with LIFT Comox Valley (recent winner, Best Social Media Organization in the Comox Valley) to roll out a companion education stream via social media.
The Comox Valley benefits from the project, not only because she’s using us as a pilot, but because Sonya also believes that packaging public education in an “street art” calendar is a tool other communities will benefit from. That’ll bring more attention to the Comox Valley as a home of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Our community faces some big decisions as we deal with our water security issues. Sonya believes public education, like the calendar project, will help us as move towards a more “water secure” future. She’s financing her project with pre-sales via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that will launch later this fall.
Sonya is also inviting other businesses to be part of the solution to our water security issues, by having their businesses prominently featured as “sponsor of the month.” Sure Copy Courtenay, the Comox Valley Record, 2nd Page Books, and LIFT Comox Valley are already on board.
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