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Don't drain our resources

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According to Environment Canada, Canadians are the second highest water consumers in the world, each using an average of 335 litres of water every day - twice as much as Europeans.

Demand for water is on the rise, from increased populations, manufacturing, irrigation and other man-made uses. Meanwhile pollution, declining water tables and prolonged drought conditions are shrinking the usable supply.

Using less water is essential not only to ensure a steady supply, but also to lower water and heating bills associated with pumping it to our homes and warming it for various household uses. Shutting off water when it’s not being used and using less to do the same job are two simple ways you can preserve this precious resource before it literally goes down the drain.

Go with the low-flow

Installing a low-flow shower head will be a very smart addition to your water conservation plans. Available at most home building and supply stores, these fixtures use about half the water of a conventional shower head.

Also, take quick showers instead of baths; you’ll use up to 50 percent less hot water. If your shower is fitted with a cut-off valve, try a "sailor shower": turn off the water while soaping and shampooing, then turn it on long enough to rinse yourself off.

When washing or shaving, partially fill the sink and use that water rather than running the tap continuously.
Turn the flow off while you are brushing your teeth to save even more water.

A better flush

About 65 percent of indoor home water use occurs in our bathrooms, and toilets are the single greatest water users.

Upgrading your toilet can lead to significant water savings that you can bank on over the life of the purchase. Replacing an 18-litre-per-flush toilet with an ultra-low-volume six-litre flush model represents a 66 percent savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30 percent.

The dual-flush toilet takes water-efficiency one step further by using six litres of water to flush solid waste but only three litres to flush liquid waste.

Stop the leaks

Leaky fixtures waste a huge amount of water. A hot water faucet that leaks one drip per second will waste 9,000 litres per year, while a toilet that runs after flushing can waste up to 200,000 litres of water in a year.

Fix leaking faucets as soon as possible. To find out if your toilet is leaking, put two or three drops of food colouring in the tank at the back of the toilet. Wait a few minutes. If the colour shows up in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak.

If your toilet leaks, make sure that the flapper valve inside the tank is sitting properly in the valve seat. Also check that the flush valve lift wires are not bent or misaligned and that the valve seat is not corroded. All of these can be fixed easily and inexpensively. If, however, the leak is around the base of the toilet where it sits on the floor, call a professional.

If you have a water meter, take a reading at night and again early in the morning, making sure that no one in the house used any water throughout the night. If the reading is significantly different the next morning, you may have a leak somewhere. Consult a plumber and repair the leak immediately.

Information for this article came from Environment Canada:

360 Albert Street, Suite 1740, Ottawa, ON K1R 7X7
Tel.: 613.236.8196 Fax: 613.233.4552