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Reducing waste and water pollution

Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)
Waterfall, Japanese Garden.

Do you know how much water is needed to produce everyday items, such as the box of chocolate for your sweetheart, your favourite beer, the paper you take notes on, the bottle of water added to your meal and the bus that takes you to work? Our rhythm of life would not be the same without water. Just think about countries that aren’t as fortunate. 

Water is omnipresent in our lives. It is found in many products we already know, and is often a raw material. It is part of various production phases of many everyday goods.

Item Water needed (in litres)
1 kilogram of wool 1501
1 cup of coffee 1402
1 kilogram of sugar 501
1 kilogram of aluminum 1 2001 et 2 
1 automobile 12 0001 et 2
1 kilogram of beef 13 5003

1 Rhin Meuse water agency
2 World Vision
3 World Water Council

Water is a valuable and much needed material. Why do we forget to protect it? Is it because there seems to be an infinite amount?

We must stop and think when consuming products that need a lot of water and change small gestures that do not protect our water supply. 

It only takes one drop of oil to contaminate 25 litres of water, making it unfit for consumption. Ten million litres of water can be dirtied by one gram of herbicide (2,4-D). This product has been forbidden for some time, but is still in the cupboards of some homeowners. 

And what about just using the sink or toilet to dispose of medications? It’s so easy to give unused medications to pharmacists, who have a proper recovery program. 

During its bank cleanup in 2008, the Biodôme counted more than 2,200 cigarette butts picked up by volunteers on a 2-km bank. Cigarette butts contain thousands of toxic substances that would have contaminated groundwater for decades.

Every action you take is worth thinking about. Another example is home maintenance and renovation. Many products used, such as pain, glue and solvents, contain toxic substances that must be treated separately and must not be disposed of in the environment or via the sewer system. Conscious choices and decisions must be made. We should find out what items are the least harmful to health and the environment, and dispose of waste in appropriate centres.

Learn about the measures your municipality is taking to manage water responsibly.

Freshwater covers 10 per cent of the surface of Québec. With thousands of waterways and lakes, Québec represents 3 per cent of the world’s renewable freshwater resources. Although many government departments regulate different aspects of water management in Québec, municipalities play a very important role. They manage water service to residents and are in charge of water quality. This is why it is so important to manage this precious resource responsibly and sustainable. As citizens, we owe it to ourselves to keep an eye on our water. Are we taking the necessary measures to avoid leaks in our waterworks system? Is there legislation to reduce water consumption during periods of drought? Is it enforced?

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