Conserving our most precious resource - Metro US

Conserving our most precious resource

By 2050, the number of human beings on Earth will have quadrupled in just 100 years. As global population continues to surge, fresh water is becoming an increasingly scarce – and precious – resource.

Compared to most other nations, Canadians use a vast amount of water – well over 300 litres per person, per day. That’s more than any other country on Earth, except the United States.

Metro asked water-conservation expert Jerry Yudelson – author of Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis – for 10 wise, effective ways to use less water, more effectively.

1) Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
“The first thing is to stop waste,” Yudelson says. “When you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, don’t leave the water running. It’s nothing dramatic, but it has a cumulative effect.”

2) Wash your car using a spray nozzle with a shut-off valve
A lot of water gets wasted just by leaving the hose running when you wash your car. A simple piece of hardware – and some increased awareness –cuts this loss dramatically.

3) Install dual-flush toilets at home
These innovative devices have two flush settings, depending on whether there are liquid or solids in the bowl. “When I was growing up in the seventies, we used to say ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” he notes.

4) Install water-conserving faucets and showerheads
“There are many faucet aerators now that, instead of two-and-a-half gallons per minute, provide one gallon per minute,” notes Yudelson. “You won’t notice the difference, but you’ll be saving 60 per cent.”

5) Buy a solar water heater
These sun-powered devices help you cut your energy footprint while you’re being mindful of your water use. It’s a clever, reliable way to take environmentally friendly action in two key areas at once.

6) Get a recirculating hot water system on a timer
This clever bit of engineering eliminates the wait for hot water after you turn on the tap. “It’s a very simple plumbing intervention. Put a little pump on the water heater, and presto!”

7) Use an ENERGY STAR and/or Water Sense dishwasher and washing machine
Do all these things at once when you’re in an upgrade cycle, he suggests, these are your two biggest water users. Savings here will be significant.

8) Limit showers to four minutes
“I take three-minute showers,” Yudelson says, “and I guarantee you I’m still clean. With teenagers, install a coin-operated meter, so it takes a loonie or a toonie to take a shower longer than five minutes.”

9) Use a drip irrigation system
Significantly more water-efficient that sprinklers, drip irrigation allows water to seep directly through the ground to the roots of plants. No more soaking down the sidewalks while watering your lawn or garden.

10) Harvest rainwater or graywater at home

“Many households, historically, have captured rainwater in a cistern,” he notes. “You can also collect graywater (used water from the sink, shower or laundry), filter it and use it for your lawn or garden.”

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