By Shari Fenn, Content Contributor
In the Calgary Region, our precious but limited water resource provides us with some of the best drinking water in the world.
Our water also provides the foundation for many outdoor activities such as including skating and skiing. It even provides a spectacular backdrop for scenic hikes or epic mountain bike rides.
But the Calgary Region is semi-arid, making water management a priority for all of us.
As consumers, we have the power to change how our behaviour impacts water conservation in the Calgary Region.
We can make better choices leading to more efficient water use and decreased water pollution.
But where should you begin?
Can one person really impact the long-term future of water in the Calgary Region?
Yes, you can make a difference!
According to Mark Bennett, Executive Director of Bow River Basin Council:
“A big part of the Calgary Region’s collective water conservation efforts is made up of individuals making the right choices. It’s individual choices that ensure our future generations can enjoy the quality of water that we do.”
“Every individual can do something to make the world a better place to live in. One drop of water is part of a wave,” says Bennett.
Did you know rain washes fertilizers, oil, salt, and soap and other chemicals into our Region’s local rivers and streams?
These wastes impacts water quality and surrounding ecosystems.
Bennett explains when pollution running into our rivers leads to increased phosphorus levels.
If the levels are too high, it leads to algal blooms that kill fish populations. Wasting water also diminishes precious energy and resources.
So are you doing everything you can to protect our water in the Calgary Region and the Bow Basin?
Here’s 50 water conservation tips to help you along the way.
Use them as a checklist and a daily guide to keep water conservation top of mind!
Once you’re done let us know some of your water conserving tips we may have missed!
In the kitchen
- Fill your dishwasher to full.
Run a dishwasher when it’s full. (Saves 140 litres/week).
Did you know? – Dishwashers, used properly, are quite efficient and represent only about 1% of your household water use.
- Short blasts for rinsing dishes.
Scrape food scraps off dishes into the garbage or rinse them off with very short blasts of hot water. (Saves 275 litres/week).
- Use still water for cleaning vegetable and fruits. Fill a sink or a pan to rinse vegetables and fruits instead of running water.
(Saves 140 litres/week).
- Reduce garbage disposal use. Run your garbage disposal on alternate days or stop using all together.
- Thaw food in the fridge. Never use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
- Do not put batteries in the garbage. Mercury in old batteries eventually leak out and poison nearby water. Collect your batteries and
drop them off at a “hazardous materials site.”
- Give left over water to plants. Ice or a little water still left in your glass? Give it to the plants instead of putting it in the
- Use old pet water on plants. Don’t throw pet water down the drain. Use it to water your plants.
- Consider steaming vegetables instead of boiling. You’ll preserve nutrients in addition to saving water. The little water that is left
can be used to water house plants, once it cools to room temperature.
- Do not pour fat from cooking down the sink. Keep a “fat jar” under the sink and discard in the solid waste when full.
In the bathroom
- Fix leaking toilet valves. Walk over to the toilet and listen to the tank. Do you hear a hissing sound? If you do, you have a leaky
valve. Fix it as a leaky toilet can waste hundreds and even thousands of litres of water.
Did you know? – Toilets are the biggest water users in the typical home; up to 29%. Imagine . . . this water is cleaned so it can carry waste.
- Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
- Fix dripping sink faucets and pipes. A dripping faucet can waste 80 litres of water per day.
- Install a water-saving shower head. It saves both water and fuel that would have been used to heat up the extra hot water.
- Turn your sink faucet off completely after you’re done.
- Install a water efficient toilet.
You can also put a brick or plastic milk container in a standard toilet tank to reduce water use per
flush. It takes up the same space as the water usually does, but in a year, it keeps thousands of litres of water from going down the drain.
- Turn off tap while brushing your teeth. Also try rinsing your toothbrush brush with short bursts of water.
- Take shorter showers and take showers instead of baths. Make it a game. Keep an egg timer in the bathroom and see who can get their showers down to three minutes. (And still get clean!). A short shower also saves more water than a long bath.
- Plug your bath tub when warming water. You can save water by plugging the tub before you start.
- Reuse your towels after a shower
- Don’t flush things down the toilet to dispose of them. Throw tissues and other bathroom waste in the garbage can, which doesn’t require litres of water.
- Turn off the water while you shave It save up to 1,200 litres of water a month.
- Turn off the tap when washing hands. Don’t let the water run while you lather your hands with soap.
In the yard
- Only water your lawn and not surrounding areas. Adjust sprinklers so you do not water the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Re-route the down spouts to the plants and flowers so the water is not wasted.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher as longer grass reduces evaporation. Use chunks of bark, peat moss, or gravel to cover bare
ground in gardens and around trees. (Saves 800 litres or more/week).
- Use a public swimming pool instead of your own pool. If you have a pool, cover it when it is not in use. This will cut down
evaporation. Covering the pool will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals and change the water.
(Saves 1,000 litres/week).
- Can your car wash wait another week? Before running through the car wash, ask if your car can wait another week before washing. Also don’t wash your car in the driveway.
- Water your lawn and landscape early in the morning or after the sun sets when there is less evaporation.
- Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots of the grass than run off the surface.
- Wash your pet in a tub or on the grass and pick up feces. Avoid washing pet on concrete where soap will run into storm drains. Feces also contaminates water going into storm drains.
- Adjust your watering schedule weekly to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
- Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.
- Compost yard waste.
Sitting yard waste can wash into storm drains when it rains.Even if the waste doesn’t contain herbicides and pesticides, the introduction of large quantities of sticks, leaves, and compost can overwhelm waterways with unhealthy nutrients.
- Contain compost in a bin or barrel to prevent being washed away.
Some municipalities provide these for free or at low cost.
- Use a mulching mower instead of bagging grass clippings.
Mulching mowers add a natural layer of compost to your lawn. It reduces evaporation and you don’t have to deal with grass clippings.
- Dispose of yard waste and grass clippings properly.
If you don’t compost have yard waste that you can’t compost, contact your local waste management or environmental protection agency.
- Keep your car in good repair.
Oil and other leaks can be washed away in storm run-off or leach into the groundwater beneath the soil.Get your car regularly tuned up and repair any leaks as soon as they occur.
- Look into organic gardening practices to find creative ways to deal with garden pests.
For example, many pests can be dealt with using a simple solution of dish soap and water.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt.
The ice cubes give your plants a cool drink of water and help cut water overflow.
- Prevent erosion and keep a healthy yard if you live next to a lake or river.
Living By Water has a number of tips on how to avoid erosion and keep your property healthy.
- Don’t use pesticides and herbicides.
When it rains they leach deep into the ground and get into the groundwater.
Switch to natural methods for getting rid of pests and weeds.
In the rest of the house
- Never put expired medication down the sink or in the toilet.
Look into local “take back” programs at your local pharmacy that allows you to turn in medication for disposal.
- Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks.
Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used.If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 4,000 litres a month. Did you know? – Washing clothes is about 20% of your household water use.
- Fix broken pipes immediately.
- Wash your dark clothes in cold water. This saves both on water and energy while it helps the colour of your clothes last longer.
- Buy rechargeable batteries. Some batteries can be charged up to hundreds or thousands of times. They are also easily recyclable.
- Use fewer chemicals to clean your home. It’s an easy switch that makes a big difference. Using bleach and ammonia to clean your home is not only bad for the water supply, it’s not necessary. Natural cleaners are just as effective. Common household supplies like white vinegar and baking soda can be used for everything from washing windows to scrubbing bathroom tiles. They’re completely nontoxic.
- Use the least amount of detergent and/or bleach when you are washing clothes or dishes. Use only phosphate free soaps and detergents.
How many of these water conservation tips are you doing? Any other tips you want to add?