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Waste not, want not: Change daily behaviour to conserve valuable water

Wake Forest University facilities management technician Tim Flippen as he installs a new low-flow shower head in Martin Residence Hall, Friday, July 11, 2008. Changing plumbing and appliances to save water are small steps homeowners can take to conserve water, but changing behaviour is key, says a Victoria expert.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wake Forest University, Ken Bennett
October 24, 2014 - 1:18 PM

VICTORIA - Installing low-flow toilets and shower heads are small steps homeowners can take to save water, but changing daily behaviour is really the key to conservation, says a Victoria expert.

"Water is often wasted just through behavioural practices like running water when you're defrosting food, and running your dishwasher when it's not full," says Jill Doucette, director of Victoria's Synergy Enterprises. "There are actually a lot of ways homeowners can save water just by changing how they operate within their home."

According to Doucette, doing things like making sure laundry machines and dishwashers are full before running them will help reduce the amount of water a home uses every year.

Water waste can not only have an effect on local water tables and the fresh water system but also on a home's energy bill. For example, the hot water heater is also in use when the hot water tap is activated so homeowners might be paying more for energy just to heat water.

Even though there are some economical benefits to saving water, Derek Satnik, managing director and chief innovation officer at Mindscape Innovations in Kitchener, Ont., says Canadians often feel conservation isn't a priority because they have access to abundant fresh and clean drinking water.

"There are financial reasons, but they aren't compelling. You don't save a whole lot of money by saving water," says Satnik. "Some of it is really at the global level; it is more of a global ethos thing."

Canadians may not have to worry about water, but Satnik says water is already an issue for many countries around the world, and more should be done at home to preserve the resource we have.

"As Canadians we need to respect and appreciate that there are lots of places in the world that don't have what we do," he says. "For no other reason than our own moral good it makes sense to respect that and behave appropriately, like using water less because we have it, sharing it with people that we care about, and protecting the lakes we have because ours are still healthy when others around the world are ruined."

Like Doucette, Satnik says it's daily behaviour that needs to change to conserve water. Satnik cites hand washing as an example. He says even though there is documentation and websites directing people how to wash their hands properly, it is likely unnecessary they need to let the tap run during the entire process.

"If you put a big bag under the tap to collect the water while you wash your hands and put your hands in the bag, people would be very surprised how much water we use while we're washing our hands," he says. "The simple reality of things is most of us will turn the tap on and then wander around and do things, and then turn the tap off."

Because water is so abundant in Canada, Satnik says homeowners have no idea how much water they use.

"Everybody everywhere knows what it is like to have abundant, fresh, clean drinking water and no one understands the global value of that water," he says.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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