Water Conservation

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Effective Water Management

Effective water management reduces energy needed for treating water, moving water and wastewater around. It can also reduce the size and cost of infrastructure systems and their associated emissions.In many countries, such as France and Sweden, typical domestic water consumption is much lower than in Canada - for example 150 to 200 litres per person per day, compared with about 330 litres for BC and Canada. Clearly, there is potential for improvement. And, even in areas “rich” with natural water resources, there are sound reasons for conserving water.

A water conservation strategy can result in benefits to both the local government and community at large. In both cases it can address not only energy and emissions, but can also reduce costs and address other objectives such as environmental protection.

BC’s Water Plan, Living Water Smart, sets out a wide range of principles, targets and actions to support water management in BC. This includes the new (fall 2008) Building Code, that mandates minimum water efficiency requirements for fixtures. Efficient fixtures are one component of effective water management. Beyond these regulations, there are many other ways local governments can influence water use and conservation.

Water, Energy and Emissions Relationships

To many, the rationale for water conservation may not seem immediately evident, particularly where a community has access to seemingly abundant natural water resources. In fact, there are sound reasons for water conservation in most communities in BC and beyond, particularly for local government operations.

In terms of emissions, energy consumption associated with water use is significant. For example, in the District of Squamish, water and wastewater systems accounted for 26% of total corporate operations energy use in 2005, and 9% of total emissions (note these systems are primarily powered by electricity) [1]. Typically, the largest energy components are pumping energy to distribute water to end users, and treating the resulting wastewater, plus to a lesser extent conveying wastewater to the treatment plant.

Community Role

This consumed energy, with its associated costs and emissions, is typically part of local government operations. However, it is driven by community water demand. Addressing community water demand can therefore result in long term benefits in terms of emissions and the bottom line for local government operations.

Addressing water demand reduces energy needed for treating water, moving water and wastewater around, and to a lesser extent treating wastewater. In the long term it can also reduce the size and cost of infrastructure systems (for example, water reservoirs and wastewater pump stations), and their associated costs and emissions.

From a community perspective, reducing water demand can also reduce energy consumption, emissions and costs for residents and businesses – for example, emissions and costs due to hot water heating, which is often fueled by a fossil source (natural gas).

Water conservation can also have ecological benefits, for example through reducing the burden on natural water supplies.

Community Examples

[Use the tab above to learn HOW to reduce emissions with this tool.]

[1] Sheltair Group, The. Bridging to the Future in Squamish - Energy & Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline & Forecast. District of Squamish. 2007