Water conservation

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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.

How to reduce your water usage and save on your bill

Conserving water benefits the environment by allowing the City to defer costly expansions to water treatment and distribution facilities in addition to wasting our most precious natural resource - water. Practice the three Rs and reduce your impact on natural resources, treatment and delivery systems, and save money.

  • 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.



  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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.
  • 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!).

Kitchens and laundry


  • Turn off the tap - For a cold glass of water, keep a jug in the fridge instead of running the tap.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spotted - When purchasing a new appliance spot the Energy guide sticker and check the rating to determine energy efficiency and potential savings.

Driveways, cars and sidewalks

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


  • 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.


  • 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.


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

Pools and hot tubs


  • 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.


  • 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
  • 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.


  • 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.

Water reporting and benchmarking (EWRB) for large building owners

Reminder: The 2023 EWRB reporting deadline is July 1st, ​2023

For 2023, prescribed, privately owned buildings that are 50,000 square feet or larger are required to report their energy and water use to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) by July 1. Requests submitted after June 1 may not be processed before the July 1 deadline.

Energy and water usage can represent some of the largest operating costs in buildings. Ontario’s Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) initiative can help building owners to:

  • Save money by tracking usage
  • Identify energy and water efficiency opportunities
  • Compare your performance to similar buildings

You can find more information on who needs to report and how to report on the Province of Ontario's webpage.

There are two options available to building owners to retrieve monthly water usage data from the City of Ottawa:

1) My ServiceOttawa account

  • Most large buildings are billed monthly. You can access your monthly billed usage through your My ServiceOttawa account.
  • Register for water and sewer billing service, you will need your account number and amount due from your last bill.
  • Select view bills and view your consumption history at the bottom of each bill.

2) Request a usage report from the City of Ottawa. An administrative fee will be charged per account for this usage report.

  • E-mail EWRB@Ottawa.ca,
  • Include the following details:
    • Account #
    • Property Address.
    • Requester’s name.
    • Requester’s mailing address.
    • Contact information (phone, e-mail).
    • Attach written consent from account holder if you are not the account holder.
    • EWRB #
    • Roll #

Better Buildings Ottawa – Benchmarking and Auditing Program

The City of Ottawa is encouraging buildings over 20,000 square feet in size to participate in the voluntary Better Buildings Ottawa Benchmarking and Auditing program. For those already complying with the EWRB Regulatory program, the process to also participate in Better Buildings Ottawa has been made simple with just three short additional steps. The program aims to support building owners and operators to identify opportunities to reduce their building’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

To find out more about the program visit the Better Buildings Ottawa webpage or contact betterbuildings@ottawa.ca