Bang On!: Canadians worst nation per capita for water consumption
By Trevor McKenzie, Special to Postmedia Network
Thursday, July 7, 2016 6:54:07 EDT PM
Recently I read surprising stats on water consumption. We might think of ourselves as eco-friendly, but we have a long way to go when it comes to the use of our most precious natural resource: water.
According to the Polis Water Sustainability Project, Canadians use more water per day on a per capita basis than any other nation. Statistics Canada reports 223 litres per person, as of 2013 — nearly a 35 per cent drop from the 342 litres per person in 1991.
We’re inefficient in our daily water use. We do have a lot of it — nine per cent of the world’s freshwater supply, and we also pay less for each litre of water than any other global jurisdiction. Australians, the world’s stingiest users of H2O, pay about 62 per cent more for water and sewage services than Canadians. Financial incentives may influence behaviour, but technology in today’s professional renovations and brand new homes also is helping us become significantly more efficient.
Faucets and showerheads: with bathrooms accounting for 65 per cent of indoor water use, it makes sense to choose fixtures with the WaterSense label that means they adhere to criteria set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Ultra-efficient toilets: from single-flush to dual-flush to low-flow, toilets no longer require from 13.2 to 26.5 litres per flush. There are models that use 4.2 litres per flush, saving a typical family as much as 60,000 litres of water annually and hundreds of dollars on their water bill. There are even models whose surface is twice as smooth as an ordinary toilet, making for easy cleaning.
Sump pumps: early generations used floats that often stuck during operation and some above-ground motors were an electrical hazard. Today’s submersible sumps still have floats, but they no longer get caught. Water-powered pumps, though, are still a good backup in case the electric-powered sump fails. Wi-Fi-connected sumps can notify homeowners of potential problems.
Tankless water heaters: there are distinct differences in capacity and use between gas and electric units. Gas units typically have capacity to supply hot water for a full home; electric ones are most effective as supplementary heaters near bathroom or kitchen sinks or in locations with less demand for hot water (workshop or cottage).
Greywater usage: greywater is any household wastewater with the exception of wastewater from toilets that is known as blackwater. Proponents say greywater systems may cut water usage in half. Whether reusing water from showers and baths, sinks or dishwashers, all systems require dedicated piping to isolate the greywater, having dedicated supply lines to the toilets, tying overflow into sanitary sources and system venting. Piping must be meticulously labelled with large warnings that they are running greywater.
Rainwater reclamation or rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and deposition of rainwater for reuse. With rainwater reclamation, homeowners save on water costs and manage harmful chemicals and can use water for irrigation, gardening, toilet flushing, laundry and possibly drinking water. A calculator at harvestingrainwater.ca/rainwater-harvesting shows potential annual water recapture, right down to how many toilet flushes and loads of laundry can be accommodated. A typical two-storey, 2,300-square-foot Ontario house with a medium-pitch roof covering 1,500 square feet could harvest 100,000 litres of rainwater annually, equal to roughly 1,330 loads of laundry.
CMHC’s Guidelines for Residential Rainwater Harvesting Systems Handbook covers treatment technologies to improve rainwater quality, including periods of insufficient or excessive rainfall.
Solar water heating: Canada represents under 2.5 per cent of solar water heating installations worldwide. According to CanSIA, (association for solar manufacturers, installers, resellers and consultants), a solar water heating system can provide 35 to 55 per cent of year-round water heating needs, thanks to a non-toxic glycol solution in the solar collectors that prevents winter freezing. A photovoltaic module regulates the proper daily operation of the solar boiler and the “solar loop circulator” turns on only when the collectors are hot enough to heat the solar tank.
More efficient plumbing resulting in savings for homeowners, less strain on the environment, enhanced living environment and a growing demand for plumbing professionals - it’s a winning combination!
Trevor McKenzie is president of the London Home Builders’ Association and owns McKenzie Homes, a London-based company that builds single-family homes in the London area. http://www.lfpress.com/2016/07/07/bang-on-canadians-worst-nation-per-capita-for-water-consumption