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
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
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.