Sep 2011 14

Help Vancouver Prevent Water Shortage

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Water by Anchal Jain Water by Anchal Jain

Everybody knows how important water resources are. Not everyone, however, is able to realize how scarce they are and how hard we should try to maintain the very little we have. If you took the total volume of water on our planet, only one third of 1 per cent, of fresh water is available for human use, and only 3 per cent of the Earth’s water is fresh. The remaining 97 per cent is seawater.

Vancouver is located in an area with quite a stable water supply, thanks to the waterways and reservoirs that surround it. The water we use every day is always fresh, potable water. Even when you water your garden, you’re usually using potable water. The cost of water is calculated not only from the its pure input, but it also involves waste water disposal systems. The effort to reduce the water bill in Vancouver has to come from two sides: households and big companies. So, let’s at least do our part and try to motivate companies to do theirs.

Where Does Our Water Come From?

The water in Vancouver comes from three places. These are the mountain reservoirs Seymour-Capilano, and Coquitlam. If you’re interested in reading more about the proceses in Coquitlam Water Park, you can check this very interesting report on drinking water treatment in Coquitlam. There is no reason to fear any water shortage in the winter since these reservoirs regularly fill up with the combination of rain and snow, whereas during the summer season, the city uses more water than the reservoirs are able to supply. This is the reason for all the regulations imposed by the Vancouver City Council.

How Many Litres of Water Do We Use a Day?

  • Toilet: 76 litres per person per day. This constitutes 30% of household water. Compared to 20 litres per flush consumption of regular toilets, low-flow toilets use only six litres per flush.
  • Dishwasher: 57 litres of water per load. To save water, try waiting for the full load before you turn it on.
  • Laundry: 150 litres of water per load. This amount accounts for 25 per cent of the total household water consumption.
  • Bath and Shower: 5.7 to 18.9 litres per minute, which means 130 litres of water for a 10 minute shower. Bath and shower consumption is around 20 per cent of household consumption. Low-flow shower uses half that much.
  • Outdoor water use: During the summer season, outdoor use counts for 40 per cent of total household water usage. Half an hour of sprinkling twice a week is a sufficient amount to keep your lawn green and healthy. It also helps to reduce the percentage rapidly.

Ten Painless Ways to Save Gallons of Water

  • install a water-saving shower head
  • use a timer on your sprinkler
  • check and repair hose leaks
  • water the garden by hand
  • plant a drought tolerant garden
  • wait for a full load before doing the wash
  • use a rain barrel to collect water in the rainy months
  • wash the car with a bucket of water and rinse with spring loaded shut off nozzle
  • let your lawn go brown
  • install a low-flow toilet (six litres per flush)

If you’re interested in a more detailed overview of water consumption, you can check the annual Water Consumption Statistics Report.

Vancouver Water Conservation Programs

Rain Barrel by Ken Mayer Rain Barrel by Ken Mayer

To help Vancouver residents prevent water shortages, The City of Vancouver introduced a number of water conservation programs:

A to Z of H2O

Environmental responsibility plays for elementary schools. For more information, contact DreamRiders Theatre at

Rain Barrel Program

Subsidized rain barrels to catch rainwater for garden use. The City of Vancouver subsidizes barrels by 50 per cent, so they cost only $75.00. You can pick up your rain barrel at the City of Vancouver Transfer Station.

Grow Natural

Natural yard care program that offers techniques to save time, money, and the environment, including lawn care and composting tips for your household.

Water Saver Kits

Water saving kits to help use water more efficiently inside and outside your home. The City offers a Vancouver resident’s kit only for $12. For more information, call 311.

Lawn Sprinking Regulations

The Lawn Sprinkling Regulations program began in 1993 as part of the Water Shortage Response Plan. The City of Vancouver plans to continue to impose lawn watering regulations in the future as well. This set of regulations is annually in effect from June 1st to September 30th. You’re allowed to use your water sprinklers according to this schedule:

Residential Addresses (4:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.)

  • Even-numbered addresses: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
  • Odd-numbered addresses: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays

Non-Residential Addresses (1:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.)

  • Even-numbered addresses: Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Odd-numbered addresses: Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Both Even & Odd numbered addresses: Fridays (4:00 A.M to 9:00 A.M.)

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