Household Water Use

Water conservation should be practiced at home and at the cottage. The cost of constructing and operating drinking water and sewage treatment plants is increasing. The demand for water is rising, while pollution, lower groundwater tables, and other factors are shrinking the supply of usable water in some areas of southern Ontario.
Every day, the average Canadian uses 350 litres of water – two and a half times the amount used per person in Europe. In households, 40% of the water is used to flush toilets, 35% is used for baths and showers, 20% is used for laundry and dishes, and 5% is used for drinking and cooking. During the summer, lawn watering and car washing can increase water use by 50%.
Using Water Wisely
Water is wasted in many ways and can be used more wisely by reducing, repairing, and retrofitting. You can reduce your water use by making a conscious effort to use less whenever possible. Repairing leaks in taps, toilet tanks, and pipes can save water and money–a drip at the rate of one per second wastes 10,000 litres of water per year. Retrofit older and inefficient toilets, showerheads, and faucets with water-saving equipment like toilet dams or low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads. If you are replacing your fixtures or appliances, consider installing low-flush toilets (six litres per flush or less) and low water-use dishwashers and washing machines.
What You Can Do !
In General

Turn taps off tightly so they do not drip.

Repair tap, faucet, pipe, and hose leaks promptly.

Use low-flow faucet aerators.

In the Kitchen

Only use a dishwasher when full; use the cycle that requires the least water.

Hand wash dishes in a partly filled sink. Instead of using running water to rinse dishes, fill a separate sink or use the faucet spray attachment.

Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running tap water until it is cold.

In the Bathroom

Use a partially filled sink rather than running water continuously while washing your hands.

Check for toilet tank leaks and repair them promptly.

Short showers use less water than baths; use a low-flow showerhead.

For bathing, fill only half the tub with water.

Toilets use the largest proportion of household water-about 40%. Use toilets only for their intended purpose-do not flush paper towels, cotton swabs, or cigarette butts. Never flush paints, solvents, pesticides, or other chemicals, since these are hazardous to the aquatic environment.

A toilet dam or weighted plastic bottle in the toilet tank can reduce water use.

Low-flush toilets are available and are practical for home and cottage use.

Only use the washing machine when full; use the cycle that requires the least water.

Adjust the water level if smaller washes are necessary.

If you have a septic system, limit the number of loads per day to avoid overloading it.


Water your lawn only when it needs it. Lawns require only 2 – 3 centimeters of water per week. Some sprinklers have an attached measuring well to determine the volume of water used. You can determine it yourself by collecting water in a pan.

To reduce water evaporation, water in early morning or late afternoon and avoid watering on windy days.

Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are the best methods for conserving water while watering plants.

A low-level sprinkler is the best type to use for watering the lawn; an oscillating sprinkler loses up to 50% of the water to evaporation.

Cut your grass to a height of 5 – 8 centimeters and leave the grass clippings on the lawn-this shades their roots during hot weather, and will help retain moisture.

Shrubs and young trees usually require watering only once a week.

Transplanted or young garden plants should be watered more often with small quantities of water until they become well established.

Use organic mulch around plants and trees and incorporate compost into your garden soil to help retain moisture.

Washing your car with running water can use up to 400 litres of water. Use a bucket, a sponge, and a trigger nozzle on the hose to reduce water consumption.

Instead of washing leaves, soil, and debris off a driveway or sidewalk, use a rake and broom.