Water Conservation Tips

Did you know that just 1 percent of the entire water supply in the world is available for people to use? The rest is in the oceans, ice caps and glaciers. Of that 1 percent, we drink very little. Most goes on lawns, in washing machines, and down toilets and drains.

Although water is a renewable resource, changing climate conditions, population growth, and wasteful use threaten water supplies all around the world. This is especially the case in the Okanagan area where our summers are hot and dry and where climate warming may further affect the water balance in these valleys.

Less precipitation may fall as snow, and less water would be stored in the mountains over the winter. Evaporation and plant transpiration will increase during the longer, warmer summer. Lake levels may fall, while the demand for irrigation and municipal water will increase.

We use the most water during the hot summer months when we take more showers and water our lawns more often. We call the months from May to September "peak season." During peak season water demand skyrockets, mainly due to outdoor irrigation. Between 2002 and 2003, the amount of water consumed in May increased by over 15%.

Customers use up to 900% more water on a monthly basis during the highest demand month (typically July) compared to the lowest demand month (typically February). While our system is equipped to meet these demand levels for short periods of time, prolonged high demand increases the chance of a pumping facility failure, which in turn compromises our ability to provide water for basic needs like drinking, washing, and firefighting.

Lawn and Garden:

Lawn and landscape watering is the biggest source of water use during the summer months. For most homeowners, a green healthy lawn is a top priority. However, lawns do not require as much water as most people think. In fact, over-watering is the one of the leading causes of lawn decline.

There are many ways to keep your lawn healthy without using large amounts of water. The most important factors are correct grass selection and proper lawn maintenance. These links are excellent sources of information on grass selection and lawn care.

If you have large areas of turf and landscaping, installing an irrigation system is one of the best ways to save water and money. You can program your system to water in the cool of the evening, and install a moisture sensor that will override the timers if the turf doesn't need watering.

There are many kinds of irrigation systems, including spray, drip, underground sprinkler, bubbler, and sprinkler systems. Consult with a landscape architect or designer for more information on the system that is right for you.

Xeriscaping is an excellent way to have a beautiful, colourful garden while minimizing water usage. Xeriscape Colorado! Inc., is an excellent source of xeriscaping information. Although the information is geared toward the Colorado region, most of the information is applicable to our area. http://www.xeriscape.org


  • Lawns and gardens require only 35 millimetres (1 2/5 inch) of water per week during warm weather. Less is needed during spring, fall, or cool weather.
  • Water lawns every three to five days, rather than for a short period every day. Apply 5 millimetres of water for each day since the last watering in warm weather. The amount of water applied can easily be measured by placing a can in the area being sprinkled. Measure the time required to apply the proper amount of water and use this figure for future sprinkling.
  • Water is required when the grass starts to develop a black tinge along the top. Recovery is almost immediate when water is applied at this stage. Blackening does not hurt grass, browning does.
  • Do not over water to compensate for expected dry periods. The soil cannot store extra water.
  • Use shut-off timers or on-off timers, if possible. Do not turn on the sprinklers and leave the home for other purposes. Timers are available at your local hardware store at a reasonable cost.
  • Water during the cool part of the day, in the early morning or late in the evening. Do not water on windy days as too much water is miss-placed and lost due to evaporation.
  • Maintain lawns at a height of 6.5 centimetres (2 ½ inches).
  • Young or freshly transplanted garden plants need less water more frequently, not extra, until they are established.
  • Most shrubs and trees need water only once per week even in warm weather.
  • Reduce car washing, and when it is necessary use a bucket of soapy water, and a hose with an automatic shut off nozzle.
  • Use a broom, or blower, to clean driveways, patios and sidewalks rather than a hose.
  • Invest in a rain sensor that will automatically turn off the irrigation system if it rains, and restore its operation when dry weather returns.
  • Refrain from letting your children play with the hose and sprinklers.
  • Decrease your lawn area to 25 percent of your yard. Increase mulched beds, trees, vines and ground-covered areas to 75 percent.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch retains moisture, cools the ground, and decreases the need for watering.
  • Select plants that are native to the area have low water needs, and are shade producing.

Inside the Home:

In the Bathroom:

  • Check your toilets for leaks. Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately.
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks. The smallest drip from a worn washer can waste 20 or more gallons a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds.
  • Don't use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket.
  • If you have an older toilet, place an inch of sand in a quart-size bottle, fill it with water, and place it in the tank away from the operating mechanism. You can save 5 or more gallons a day.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors. Your local hardware or plumbing supply store stocks inexpensive, easy to install fixtures.
  • Take baths. A bath in a partially filled tub uses less water than all but the shortest showers.
  • Turn off the water while you are shaving and brushing your teeth.

In the Kitchen and Laundry:

  • Use your washing machine and dishwasher only for full loads.
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don't leave the water running.
  • Do not use a garbage disposal, or use less often.
  • Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables.
  • Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator.