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Reducing water consumption

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Marsh, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Use a broom to keep your parking area and outside of your home tidy.

Managing city water is a complex task. The procedures to make water drinkable and treat waste water are costly and time-consuming. In Montréal, it costs more than 50 million dollars each year for the first stage of wastewater treatment alone. Also, some stages require chemical products or procedures that can be harmful to the environment. Water should be used judiciously. There is no point in using this precious resource for cleaning outdoor areas.

Reduce water consumption in the bathroom:

  • Repair leaky faucets and running toilets.
  • Use low flow plumbing fixtures, such as reduced flow shower heads.
  • Choose a reduced flow toilet tank the next time you renovate.

The bathroom is where we use the most water. Around 65 per cent of domestic consumption takes place in this room. Everyone knows that leaving the faucet running while you shave or brush your teeth doesn’t help things. But that’s not the only problem. Canada is second in the world, behind the United States, in water consumption per inhabitant, with nearly 330 litres per person per year. This is double the consumption in Europe. Losing one drop of water per second through a leaky faucet or running toilet is the equivalent of 9,540 litres of water wasted per year. And if it’s hot water, additional resources are wasted…

A reduced flow toilet tank uses six litres of water per use instead of 15 to 19 litres used by a conventional model. There are even double flush models for small and large needs. This tank reduces water consumption of a reduced flow tank by half – just three litres of water per use! Double flush systems can also be installed in old tanks. This alternative is almost as efficient and is much less expensive. In the meantime, a brick or water bottle can be used to reduce the tank’s volume. Water is saved with every use – dozens of litres per family per day! You can also choose to flush the toilet less often.

A good shower is better than a bath! Everyone knows that showers use less water than baths. However, time is also a factor. A bath uses an average of 160 litres, a five-minute shower uses 85 to 100 litres and an eight-minute shower uses 137 litres. Reduce water use by half with a low flow shower head. The savings in water and money will justify this purchase (Source: Sedna Foundation).

Optimize your laundry room.

In addition to using less energy than traditional models, ENERGY STAR qualified washing mashines use 35 to 50 per cent less water than the minimum Canadian standard. Front-loading machines use even less water. While waiting to change models, fill the washing machine to its maximum capacity before running and wash in cold water whenever possible (Source: Sedna Foundation).

Use more effective dishwashing methods.

Proper methods and good habits are the best way to save water in the kitchen. An average of 32 litres of water is used to wash the same quantity of dishes by hand as the capacity of a dishwasher, which uses 40 litres. Technology is catching up with us though, and there are new models using 20 litres of water and less. But don’t rinse the dishes first, which uses more than 40 litres of water before the dishwasher is started. Just scrape large pieces of food into the trash before placing dishes in the dishwasher.

Water plants and your garden early in the morning or in the evening.

Gardeners don’t all have the same reasons for recommending when plants should be watered, whether in the morning or in the evening. However, they all agree that watering during the daytime is not a good idea. Nearly 50 per cent of the water used evaporates instead of penetrating the soil and, under the heat of the sun, the droplets of water can create a magnifying glass effect that burns the leaves of plants. It’s also better to water occasionally for a long period of time than to water frequently in small doses. Plant roots will develop more deeply and resist drought more easily.

Here are some other tips for reducing the quantity of water you use:

  • Place mulch on flowerbeds and in the garden to keep soil moist.
  • Water the base of plants instead of the leaves.
  • Avoid watering on windy days, when gusts will dry out plants more quickly.
  • Ensure that the grass is not shorter than 7.5 cm.
  • Plant annuals in the fall. They will acclimate more quickly in the spring and will need less water in the summer.
  • Choose plants that are adapted to the regional climate.

By reducing the rate of evaporation, we reduce watering time, too – time we can use to relax and enjoy the garden instead!

Did you know?
In addition to following these golden rules, the Botanical Garden has connected its sprinklers to a weather station so that plants are not watered when it is raining.

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