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water conservation

Every so often it’s important to remind ourselves that fresh drinking water is not an endless resource. We may think that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, but only 3% of that is fresh water, and only 0.5% is drinkable. A scary thought when we look at the growing world population.

In Canada, we are extremely fortunate when it comes to water supply:

  • Annually, Canada’s rivers discharge 7% of the world’s renewable water supply – 105 000 cubic metres per second[1].
  • Wetlands cover an area of more than 1.2 million square kilometers(14% of Canada’s land areas) this is roughly 25% of the world’s wetlands. Making Canada the largest wetland area in the world[1].
  • Almost 9%, or 891 163 square kilometres, of Canada’s total area is covered by fresh water[1].

However, we cannot take our water supply for granted, especially when it comes to residential demand. Here is a breakdown of residential water use in Canada.

  • toilet – 30%;
  • bathing and showering – 35%;
  • laundry – 20%;
  • kitchen and drinking – 10%;
  • cleaning – 5%[1].

Some steps we can all take to conserve water which do not require drastic changes in our everyday habits: [2]

  1. Reduce your shower time. If you shorten your shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes or less while using a 7.6 litre per minute (lpm) showerhead, you will be saving water and energy each time you shower. You can also save water by turning off the water while lathering in the shower.
  2. Replace your showerhead. Older models use 18 to 30 lpm while water-efficient models use 7.6 lpm or less. Ultra-high efficiency showerheads use as low as 5.6 lpm. These showerheads provide a water reduction of 30% compared to the current industry standard of 9.5 lpm. Reducing your water in the shower will also save you money on your water and energy bills.
  3. Recycle unused water. While waiting for hot water to flow when preparing for a shower, catch the cool water in a bucket or water can. Later it could be used for your plants, pets or cleaning.
  4. Replace your old toilet with a high-efficiency 4.8 lpf model (HET), or a dual 3/6 lpf model. Older models can use as much as 13 to 26 litres of water per flush.
  5. Do not let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving. Instead, turn off the faucet when not directly using water flow.
  6. Retrofit all household faucets with water saving aerators or consider replacing with water efficient models. Aerators are inexpensive items that can be found at most hardware stores. Look for ultra low flow 1.9 lpm or 0.5 gallon per minute devices.

Every bit of conservation helps!