FAQs on Water and Water Conservation

Know, then Act!

How does using our water wisely make a difference?

What each of us does in the world, how you and I live our lives, does make a difference. Water is a limited resource, much of which is non renewable, that has existed since the beginning of time. Today, however, nearly 1.1 billion people, mostly in the developing world, remain without access to safe water, while more than double this number - about 2.4 billion - have no access to any form of improved sanitation facilities. We need to protect and preserve natural sources of water. We start by becoming aware of how our actions affect the quality and quantity of water, at home and throughout the world.

Did you know...

  • Only 1% of the total water resources on earth are available for human use. While 70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, 97.5% of that is salt water. Of the remaining 2.5% that is freshwater, almost 68.7% is frozen in ice caps and glaciers.
  • Up to 30% of fresh water supplies are lost due to leakage in developed countries, and in some major cities, losses can run as high as 40% to 70%.
  • About 90% of sewage and 70% of industrial wastes in developing countries are discharged into water courses without treatment, often polluting the usable water supply.


What are some ways we can conserve water?

Surrounded by seemingly unlimited freshwater resources, we as Canadians are the world's most wasteful water users. In reality, our supplies of clean, usable water are limited, and we must learn to use them more wisely. Water conservation begins at home. You can do your share by observing the following DOs and DON’Ts in and around the house.
  • Always turn taps off tightly so they do not drip.
  • Promptly repair any leaks in and around your taps. (One leak can waste several thousand litres of water per year.)
  • Use an aerator and/or a water flow-reducer attachment on your tap to reduce your water usage.
  • When hand-washing dishes, never run water continuously. Wash dishes in a partially filled sink and then rinse them using the spray attachment on your tap.
  • If you have an electric dishwasher, use it only to wash full loads, and use the shortest cycle possible. Many dishwashers have a conserver/water-miser cycle.
  • When brushing your teeth, turn the water off while you are actually brushing instead of running it continuously. Then use the tap again for rinsing and use short bursts of water for cleaning your brush. (This saves about 80% of the water normally used.)
  • When washing or shaving, partially fill the sink and use that water rather than running the tap continuously. (This saves about 60% of the water normally used.) Use short bursts of water to clean razors.
  • Use either low-flow shower heads or adjustable flow-reducer devices on your shower heads. (They reduce flow by at least 25%.)
  • You can reduce water usage by 40% to 50% by installing low-flush toilets.
  • Wash only full loads in your washing machine.
  • Use the shortest cycle possible for washing clothes, and use the "suds-saver" feature if your machine has one.
  • Use only cleaning products that will not harm the environment when they are washed away after use. Look for "environmentally friendly" products when shopping.
  • Lawns and gardens require only 5 millimetres of water per day during warm weather. Less is needed during spring, fall, or cool weather.
  • Water lawns every three to five days, rather than for a short period every day. In warm weather, apply 5 millimetres of water for each day since the last watering.
  • Water during the cool part of the day, in the morning or evening. Do not water on windy days.
  • Do not over-water in anticipation of a shortage. Soil cannot store extra water.
  • Use shut-off timers or on-off timers, if possible. Do not turn on sprinklers and leave for the day.