Water conservation tips

The City of Ottawa has adopted a Water Efficiency Strategy to ensure the wise use of water.

Being WaterWise benefits the environment and the community by allowing the City to defer costly expansions to water treatment and distribution facilities, and preventing waste of our most precious natural resource - water.

WaterWise - the Three R's

Practice the three Rs and reduce your impact on natural resources, treatment and delivery systems, and save money.

Top three thrifty tips:
 1. Check and change washers
 2. Change aerators
 3. Change showerhead
  • Reduce - be aware of your water use, and consider ways to use less.
  • Repair - locate and repair leaks to save water, money, and to prevent potentially costly property damage.
  • Retrofit - install water saving devices on existing fixtures and select water efficient devices when replacing older, water-guzzling fixtures and appliances.

How can I reduce household water use?

Take this short survey to see how much water and money you can save.

What else could be making my water bill high?

There could be a leak.

To check to see if your home has a water leak you can either read your meter before retiring for the evening and read it again in the morning to see if the reading changed or turn off all fixtures and appliances that use water and check the leak detector indicator - the red triangle on your water meter for movement. There is a leak if it continues to move even though all water fixtures and appliances are turned off.

There's a leak somewhere, now what do I do?

The most likely place for a leak is the toilet. To check for leaks in your toilet, add a few drops of food colouring or a cold cup of black coffee to the water in the tank. Wait a few minutes. If, without flushing the toilet, the colour appears in the bowl your toilet has a leak that should be repaired immediately.

Other places for leaks - faucets and showerheads.

To check for leaks, make sure the sink or tub is dry, insert the plug into the drain, wait, check the sink or tub from time to time. You have a leak if water starts to pool in the sink or tub.

Don't forget to check all bathrooms, the kitchen and outside taps.

For more ways to save water and money follow these links :

Why Conserve?

The Ottawa River, water source for both the Britannia and Lemieux Water Purification Plants, is the greatest tributary of the St. Lawrence River and the second longest Canadian river flowing 1,271 kilometres. However, the process of turning water into safe drinking water costs money due to the sophisticated processes, infrastructure, facilities, and chemical and electrical costs required to deliver this valuable product to homes all over the City of Ottawa.

That's why people should use water more carefully in and around the home. Being WaterWise benefits the environment, and allows us to defer expanding our water facilities - saving residents added expense.

Indoors

Bathrooms

Reduce

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands. Fill the sink with a few centimetres of warm water to wash or rinse your razor while shaving. For brushing, fill a glass with water to rinse your mouth.
  • Take shorter showers and use only a portion of the water you currently use or fill the tub one-quarter full if you prefer a bath.

Repair

  • Check for leaks - To check for leaks in your toilet, add a few drops of food colouring or a cooled cup of black coffee to the water in the tank and wait a few minutes. If, without flushing the toilet, the colour appears in the bowl your toilet has a leak that should be repaired immediately.
  • A toilet that continues to run after flushing, if the leak is large enough, can waste up to 200,000 litres of water in a single year! [Environment Canada]

Retrofit

  • Showerheads - older showerheads can use about 20L of water every minute. Replace your older showerhead with a new low-flow showerhead and save water and money. Look for a showerhead that uses 9.5L per minute or less.
  • Taps - faucet aerators can reduce water use by 25 per cent. Replace your older aerator with a new low-flow aerator and save water and money. For more information on replacing your showerhead and aerator see the City of Ottawa's newResidential Indoor Water Efficiency Kit. (Most CSA-approved showerheads and faucet aerators are stamped with their flow rates either in litres or gallons per minute)
  • Toilets - older toilets use about 20L of water per flush. The Ontario Building Code requires 6L low-flow toilets for new construction and 13L toilets for renovations.
  • There are many products that you can install in the tank of an existing water-guzzling toilet to reduce the amount of water used, such as a water displacement (plastic bag or bottle), water retention (toilet dams) or alternative flushing (early closure or dual-flush)
  • Check with your local plumbing supply of hardware store to find which method will work best for your toilet. Don't put rocks or bricks in your toilet tank as these can breakdown over time and cause damage. Or replace your water-guzzling toilet with a low-flow 6L version, a 3L/6L dual flush, or high efficiency 4L flush toilet - that's 1/5 the volume of water per flush (and 1/5 the cost!).
  • Turn off the tap - For a cold glass of water, keep a jug in the fridge instead of running the tap.
  • Dishwashers - always wash full loads for greatest water and energy savings or adjust the settings to the amount of dishes to be washed. "Don't waste hot water by pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher - just scrape off food and empty liquids.Ontario Ministry of Energy
  • By hand - to wash dishes by hand only fill the sink one-quarter to half full. Rinse using a second, one-quarter to half-full sink and avoid running the water.
  • Steamed not boiled - Steaming food uses less water, less energy and helps to retain nutrients.
  • When boiling, use only enough water to cover the food and use a tight-fitting lid.
  • To the top - always wash full loads for greatest water and energy savings or adjust the water level to the amount of laundry to be washed.
  • Check for leaks - regularly check taps and pipes. Prompt repairs can save water, money, and prevent potentially costly property damage. Stop drips and save dollars - faucet washers cost pennies and take minutes to install.
  • Taps - faucet aerators can reduce water use by 25 per cent. Replace your older aerator with a new low-flow aerator and save water and money. For more information on replacing your aerator, see the City of Ottawa's new Residential Indoor Water Efficiency Kit. (Most CSA-approved faucet aerators are stamped with their flow rates either in litres or gallons per minute)
  • Front and centre - Top-load washing machines have agitator arms that generally reduce the size of load that can be washed. Front-load washers do not have agitator arms, and are more gentle on clothes. Wash larger loads and remove more water during the spin cycle to reduce drying time.
  • Not only do H-axis (front loading horizontal axis) units provide easier access, they use "35 to 45 percent less water and up to 50 percent less energy. Simpler operating mechanisms mean reduced service and maintenance requirements." [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation]
  • Spotted - When purchasing a new appliance spot the Energuide sticker and check the rating to determine energy efficiency and potential savings.

Kitchens and laundry

Reduce

  • Turn off the tap - For a cold glass of water, keep a jug in the fridge instead of running the tap.
  • Dishwashers - always wash full loads for greatest water and energy savings or adjust the settings to the amount of dishes to be washed. "Don't waste hot water by pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher - just scrape off food and empty liquids.Ontario Ministry of Energy
  • By hand - to wash dishes by hand only fill the sink one-quarter to half full. Rinse using a second, one-quarter to half-full sink and avoid running the water.
  • Steamed not boiled - Steaming food uses less water, less energy and helps to retain nutrients.
  • When boiling, use only enough water to cover the food and use a tight-fitting lid.
  • To the top - always wash full loads for greatest water and energy savings or adjust the water level to the amount of laundry to be washed.

Repair

  • Check for leaks - regularly check taps and pipes. Prompt repairs can save water, money, and prevent potentially costly property damage. Stop drips and save dollars - faucet washers cost pennies and take minutes to install.

Retrofit

  • Taps - faucet aerators can reduce water use by 25 per cent. Replace your older aerator with a new low-flow aerator and save water and money. For more information on replacing your aerator, see the City of Ottawa's new Residential Indoor Water Efficiency Kit. (Most CSA-approved faucet aerators are stamped with their flow rates either in litres or gallons per minute)
  • Front and centre - Top-load washing machines have agitator arms that generally reduce the size of load that can be washed. Front-load washers do not have agitator arms, and are more gentle on clothes. Wash larger loads and remove more water during the spin cycle to reduce drying time.
  • Not only do H-axis (front loading horizontal axis) units provide easier access, they use "35 to 45 percent less water and up to 50 percent less energy. Simpler operating mechanisms mean reduced service and maintenance requirements." [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation]
  • Spotted - When purchasing a new appliance spot the Energuide sticker and check the rating to determine energy efficiency and potential savings.

Outdoors

Driveways, cars and sidewalks

  • Did you know? One drop of oil can render up to 25 litres of water unfit for drinking. Environment Canada

Reduce

  • Clean sweep - use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios, instead of the hose. Let the rain take care of the rest.
  • Turn off the tap - use a bucket and sponge to wash your car and a trigger nozzle on the hose to wet and rinse.
  • Suds away - use a car wash facility that recycles its water and collects and separates out greases and oils.

Repair

  • Check for leaks - regularly check connections and hoses for leaks. Prompt replacement of an inexpensive washer could save water, money and possibly prevent costly property damage.
  • A leak of only one drop per second wastes about 10 000 litres of water annually. Environment Canada

Retrofit

  • Trigger change - use a trigger nozzle on a hose to stop the flow of water when not in use.

Pools and hot tubs

Reduce

  • Cover up - covering your pool or hot tub when it's not in use will reduce energy costs, evaporation and the amount of water required for top-up.
  • Turn off the tap - lower water level in your pool or hot tub to reduce water loss due to splashing. Pools should only be filled to 15 to 20 cm from the top.
  • Back off on backwashes - limit backwashes to one to two minutes or until the water becomes clear. Longer backwashes waste water and chemicals.

Repair

  • Check for leaks - regularly check connections, liners, and pipes for leaks, prompt repair could save water, money and possibly prevent property damage. A leak of only one drop per second wastes about 10 000 litres of water annually. [Environment Canada]
  • Get the dirt out - check the pump strainer basket and the skimmer basket daily and remove any debris. This can improve water circulation and result in cleaner water.

Retrofit

  • Pre-screen - consider adding a pre-filter to the skimmer basket, this may reduce the frequency of backwashes to three or four times per season.