Doing Your Part: Where has all the water gone?

On June 6th, Professor George McCourt from McGill University’s School of the Environment gave an interesting presentation on water conservation in the Library’s Eco-Cafe urging the audience to start conserving water.  When one thinks of Canada, one thinks of an endless supply of water, but this is not the case.  Even in Canada, resources are increasingly limited.   Fresh water sources are becoming increasingly stressed, a problem compounded by the effects of climate change. According to Professor McCourt, Canada is the biggest water consumer per capita, around 350,000 litres per person per year.   

Quebec and Montreal in particular are huge consumers of water. Quebecers use an average 795 litres per person per day compared to 491 litres consumed by people in Ontario.  Montreal’s aging infrastructure loses up to 50% of treated water in pipeline leaks .  As a result, Montreal’s water consumption is substantially higher than any other similar-sized North American city, earning the city the title of “Capital of Water Waste in North America.”

In many cities, residents have water meters and are charged for the water that they use.  This enables one to have an idea of how much one consumes and make adjustments saving the consumer money but also reducing overall consumption.  If you pay for what you use, consumption will go down. 

Here are some tips from Environment Canada to help conserve our water so that it will be sustained for future generations. Kitchen Tips

  • Kitchen TipsInstall a low-flow faucet aerator, which can cut water use in half.
  • Soak pots and pans before washing. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water.
  • Fill the basin or a pan with water to wash fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator rather than running tap water until it is cool enough to drink.
  • When buying a new dishwasher, consider purchasing a water-saving model. Newer models can cut water use by 25 percent and are no more expensive than non-conserving models.
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.

 Bathroom Tips

  • Bathroom TipsBathroom use accounts for about 65 percent of the water used inside the home.
  • Check regularly for any leaks and fix them. Most common bathroom leaks are found in faucets and in and around toilets.
  • Replace older, larger-use toilets with the newer ultra-low flush models. Standard toilets manufactured prior to the 1980s usually require 15 to 20 litres per flush. Toilets sold during the 80s and early 90s use 13 litres per flush.
  • Do NOT use the toilet to dispose of paper, facial tissues, or cigarettes.
  • Take a five-minute shower.
  • Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain and the filling the tub only 1/3 full.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead. It can save about half the amount of water you typically use in the shower, while still providing a refreshing, cleansing shower.
  • Turn the tap water off while brushing your teeth,  shaving, or washing your face.
  • If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
  • Laundry Room Tips 

    • Laundry Room TipsWhen buying a new clothes washer, consider purchasing a water-saving model. New horizontal axis models can save up to 40 percent of the water used by a conventional model. Check with your municipality to see if they provide rebates on the purchase of water-saving clothes washers.
    • Wash only full loads in the clothes washer.
    • Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

     Outdoor Tips

    • In the summer, lawn watering and other outdoor uses can account for up to 50 percent of home water use. Studies show that as much as half of this outdoor use is wasteful. As a general rule, 2 to 3 cm  of water per week is adequate.
    • Don’t overwater your landscape. It can cause yellowing leaves or poor plant health. Give plants only the amount of water that they need.
    • Use low-angle or pulsating sprinklers that produce large fat droplets of water. Sprinklers that spray the water high into the air or produce a mist or fine spray lose much of the water through evaporation.
    • Set sprinklers to water the lawn, not sidewalks and driveways.
    • Check your sprinkler or irrigation systems regularly for any leaks, and fix them.
    • Be sure your hose has an automatic shutoff nozzle to ensure water is not wasted when the hose is left unattended.

     Planting

    • Add two to four inches of organic material, such as peat or compost, to the soil. Greater soil depth will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
    • Use water-wise plants. Native and adaptive plants will use less water and be resistant to local plant diseases and pests.

     Car Washing

    • Using a running hose to wash your car can waste about 400 litres of water. Using a bucket with a sponge plus a trigger nozzle on the hose will save you about 300 of those litres.

     Pool

    • If you own a pool, be sure to use a pool cover when it’s not in use. This will cut down on evaporation losses and will keep it cleaner and warmer. Check equipment such as filtration systems and water inlets on a regular basis for signs of leaks.

    Rain Barrel

    • Collect rain water in an old barrel or other large container that is outfitted with a spigot and a suitable cover, and use the water on your garden. Use this water as an alternative to turning on the hose for newly transplanted material, window boxes, flower pots and container gardens. Rain water is actually better for your plants as it does not contain any chlorine and is at ambient temperature. Keep your rain barrel covered to prevent mosquitos breeding and for safety reasons.

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