Elements of Water Conservation Programs

The most appropriate water conservation strategies and actions will vary between communities depending on local conditions and opportunities.

Water Fixture Efficiency

Increasing fixture and appliance water efficiency is a key strategy in which local governments can play a major part. In new buildings, fixtures and appliances that consume significantly less water compared to the requirements of the BC water conservation regulation are commercially available, and have been installed widely in jurisdictions or buildings where water conservation has been given high priority.

For example, dual flush toilets (about 4.3 litres flush on average) can reduce toilet water consumption up to 30% below the low-flush (6 litre) requirement of the Code; bathroom faucet flows can also be reduced as much as 50%. As of January 2007, 91% of LEED-Canada new building projects included the credit for 30% reduction in water use compared to LEED baseline consumption, which is only slightly higher than the BC conservation regulations.

For existing buildings, improvements in water efficiency due to fixture retrofits can be more dramatic. For example, dual flush toilets can reduce consumption due to conventional toilets (13 litres) by over 65%.

Implementation of efficient fixtures and also appliances can be facilitated for community buildings through measures such as:

  • Public and building industry education packages - these can be developed relatively quickly and easily
  • Subsidized water conservation kits
  • Incentives such as toilet rebates
  • Incentives that encourage water conservation in designs for new development

Other Actions

In addition to actions addressing fixture efficiency, water conservation actions can also include:

  • Metering and pricing by usage
  • Addressing water system leakage through monitoring, maintenance and asset management
  • Landscape design guidelines and efficient irrigation systems
  • Watering restrictions
  • Working with major industrial users to reduce demand, and facilitating eco-industrial networking

Alternative Sources

Utilizing alternative sources such as captured rainwater, or reclamation of treated greywater or wastewater for non-potable uses, are other strategies that can complement the above demand management actions. However, the potential emission reductions resulting from reclamation are less certain.


Waterbucket provides a wealth of water conservation resources; the BC Ministry of Community Development is also actively developing other water management resources to be made available soon.

The US EPA has developed detailed guidelines for creating water conservation plans. Conservation plans should ideally be integrated and/or harmonized with other plans, such as a Liquid Waste Management Plan, Community Energy and Emissions Plan, land use plans, and others.

Estimating energy and emissions reductions from water conservation is discussed in the Greenhouse Gas Emission Assessment Guide for BC Local Governments.

Community Examples

Examples of communities that have implemented water conservation programs and measures include:

Kelowna – a wide range of initiatives are aimed at reducing city-wide water use 15% by 2012 from early 2007.
Sunshine Coast Regional District – bathroom fixture replacement program, toilet rebates, sprinkling restrictions.