Water Conservation and Beyond.

A workshop summary by Mo Tipples/SOUL

This day long workshop was organized by the Mb Eco-Network Water Caucus. This group is a non profit group funded by grants, which focuses on Water Issues in our Province. As readers who are environmentally concerned you may be interested in hearing more about the topics which were presented, for a common interest in the importance of Water as a Resource is a necessity.

The first presenter was Kevin Freedman who explained the ‘25 liter a Day Challenge’ which he instigated in 2009. Why are so many Canadians inured to water issues? We are Stewards of a GREAT RESOURCE and have a responsibility to be careful of its use.

Some facts emerged.

  • We think and see that there are huge quantities around us, but
  • 90% of our fresh water is glacially sourced and will run out with global warming
  • Only 6.5% is underground, which can be called a renewable resource
  • 60% of our freshwater runs North to the Arctic and 85% of our population lives along a small band along the border
  • Huge amounts of what we are left with go to industrial and agricultural usage
  • In reality we have much less water than we think
  • 1 in 4 communities had boil water advisories in the 1990s. Can this be avoided?

So, where do we start?

  • Canada is the 2nd highest per capita consumer in the World. Should we be proud of this?
  • The bathroom is the worst offender. A 10 minute shower takes 120 litres
  • Dual flush toilets are better than regular. 6 liters v 13 liters.
  • A top loading clothes washer at 160 liters is far more wasteful than a front loader 60-80 liters
  • Sink dishwashing has a far greater consumption than a dishwasher
  • Running taps for hand and teeth cleaning is wasteful
  • Using tap water to wash cars and water gardens is wasteful of the resource and of water treatment expenses for tap water of which we have recently become aware.

What can I do?

Shaun Loney of BUILD explained.

This group is an inner city training agency that lowers utilities in dwellings where low income families live and includes water and efficiency instruction for the household.

  • In one building alone at 185 Smith St., $60,000 was saved in one year or $161 per suite.
  • In total their projects have saved $550,000 in savings this last year which is $6.5m over 10 years or 120m liters of water saved.

There is also another ‘built in plus’ to this program. The Instructors for this project are Plumbers, who train ‘multibarrier people’ to become qualified in their new trade, learn Life Skills at the same time and a decent wage to feed their families., which is a huge societal impact for every $ spent.

Water Conservation is ‘Saving’ the resource and Water Efficiency is ‘Enabling’ it.

A simple Water retrofit gives a huge savings just by installing Aerators for taps and low volume Showerheads in a house or apartment.
NB. Pollocks has the best price on these water saving devices and Manitoba Green Retrofit will come and do the work. (586-5755)

We also learned that those of us who want to install low flush toilets but don’t want to dispose of our 13 liter toilets at the Dump, if we contact SCOPE their people will come and pick them up for recycling whence they will be ground up and used in other projects.

*From this discussion arose a possible Advocacy action in which the province is lobbied to ban the further sale of these large toilets. And also to ask for a PAYS “Pay As You Save “plan, whereby the initial cost can be put on your property taxes over several years.

Another of the presenters was Laura Allan from Greywater action in California. Her focus was on the conservation and usage of any water, including rainwater, which does not need necessarily to be put into the sewage treatment system. While her talk was extremely interesting from the point of view of residents in the USA having to do something proactive on their properties because of drought situations, it was mainly not relevant to Manitoba. This aspect of Water conservation would perhaps be best addressed by Developers and those making new housing starts, where the additional plumbing and two way valve systems required could be built in at the beginning of construction. In addition there are many regulations regarding the disposal of greywater in our Province which would have to be addressed.

But, it did raise the issue about using rain barrels to water our gardens. I am sure that many of our avid gardeners already take this action and it remains for the rest of us to follow suit. Apparently the City will be selling water barrels at the same time as Composters this year, so watch the paper for dates and sites.

Finally the Mb Eco Network Water Caucus is launching a pilot program aimed at family households in the City. The 3 month program will provide free resources to 30-50 households to conserve water and become better water stewards. Families are encouraged to participate in order to get the younger generation involved.

Contact meeghan@mbeconetwork.org or 943-0318

If anyone is interested in receiving notice of upcoming water events contact Mo and she will put you on her forwarding email list. The information received at such events is educational and interesting and puts you in touch with what other groups and individuals are trying to do to improve the environment for all. (info.soul@grindstonepark.ca)

Also Google 25 litre Water Challenge for a great video!


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