EcoUrbia Network

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about water

by Kevin Connery

At first glance there appears to be an almost limitless supply of water, particularly during the Fall and Winter months in Metro Vancouver.  Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface and comprises by weight 65-70% percent of the human body.  It exists either as a liquid, solid or vapour and moves about the earth through the hydrologic cycle. Water plays a fundamental role in almost all of the ecosystem services that support life on this planet. However, despite its apparent ubiquity, only 0.3% of the world’s water is actually drinkable. The vast majority of it is either too salty, too frozen or simply too inaccessible for humans to tap into. Such scarcity of one of the planet’s most precious resources would suggest a need to conserve water.

On average, each person’s ‘water footprint’ in Metro Vancouver is approximately 600 litres of water per day, either through direct use in our homes or indirectly within manufacturing and service industries that support our lifestyles. Most of the consumption takes place in non-potable situations: flushing toilets, washing clothes, and outdoor uses.

With a finite supply of potable water from Metro Vancouver’s three main water reservoirs such consumption rates are not sustainable.  Over the long term, securing a consistent supply of water will require a reduction in use across the region through a range of conservation initiatives.  Fortunately several programs and initiatives are underway in Metro Vancouver to reduce our water footprint.

WWater, Water Everywhere? Canada is home to roughly 7% of the globe's renewable freshwater, making it the third-largest water supply in the world. So we might think there's an endless supply, but in reality our supply of clean, accessible water is limited. We have to learn to use it more wisely if we want to keep enjoying the social, economic, and environmental benefits it provides.

did you know

  • 3,800 km3 of fresh water is withdrawn annually from the world's lakes, rivers & aquifers: twice the volume extracted 50 years ago.
  • Universal water metering reduces residential water consumption by 15-30%. Residential indoor water use in Canada:
    • Toilet – 30%
    • Bathing and showering – 35%
    • Laundry – 20%
    • Kitchen and drinking – 10%
    • Cleaning – 5%
  • A 5-minute shower with a standard shower head uses 100 litres of water, compared to 50 litres of water used by a low-flow shower head.
  • Water use by volume:
    • Toilet flush – 15-19L
    • Shower (5 min) – 100L & Bath – 60L
    • Automatic dishwashing – 40L & Dishwashing by hand – 35L
    • Hand washing – 8L (tap running)
    • Brushing teeth – 10L (tap running)
    • Outdoor watering – 35L/min
    • Washing machine – 225L
  • Canada has approximately 25 percent of the world's wetlands, the largest wetland area in the world.
  • Worldwide, one billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
  • According to the United Nations, 31 countries in the world are currently facing water stress & scarcity.

Source: Environment Canada, United Nations

north shore initiatives

other initiatives


ecourbia network vancouver

"...the global fresh water supply is a shared legacy, a public trust, and a fundamental human right, and therefore, a collective responsibility." (Blue Gold, Maude Barlow & Jeremy Rifkin)

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water topics

-bottled water
-contaminants & plastics
-drinking water
-grey water/rainwater harvesting
-our oceans
-phosphorus-free cleaning products
-salmon farming
-snow packs (also climate)
-water conservation
-water metering



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