2014 Water Use Survey Results

While the City of North Vancouver may be one of the rainiest places in the country, clean water is still a precious and valuable resource. Water conservation is therefore a priority, especially during the dry summer conditions. Simply by using the water we have more efficiently, we can prolong the need for costly water system upgrades, keep utility rates low, and reduce our vulnerability to climate change.

In second half of 2014, we initiated a Water Use Survey to better understand how our residents use water, which conservation efforts are used most, and to help guide decisions around new water conservation efforts. We received a total of 70 responses over a six month period. We randomly selected two survey participants to receive a $100 rebate to put towards the purchase of any water reducing fixture (e.g. shower heads, faucets), appliance (e.g. washer), or other piece of equipment (e.g. rain barrel).

Below are the 2014 Water Use Survey results.

From the 70 responses, there was roughly an even split between single family and multi-family homes. We also found that more than half of the responders are already using high efficiency appliances and low flow faucets and fixtures, which is very encouraging.

Major Water Uses and Water Saving Technologies

  • Front loading high efficiency clothes washers reduce water consumption by 40% and energy consumption by 35%. Energy savings can also be increased by washing in cold water rather than hot. In addition, front loading washing machines have larger capacities, which may reduce the number of washes per week.
  • Older dishwashers use between 30 - 53 litres of water, newer units (after about 1994) can use between 15 - 38 litres. Newer dishwashers also use substantially less energy, especially if extra heat cycles are not used.
  • Showering accounts for about 17% of indoor water use. Very low flow showerheads use less than 8 litres per minute (2 gallons per minute), older conventional showerheads use between 18 - 27 litres per minute (4.5 - 7 gallons per minute).

High and Low Flow Toilets

The City has been a participant in a toilet rebate program to help encourage the replacement of older, high flow toilets that use 13 litres per flush or more. Almost 75% of our responders have some low flow toilets in their home, and almost half have only low flow toilets. Newer, low flow toilets use just 6 litres per flush or less a savings of 7+ litres every time you flush!

The Building Code in BC has recently been updated and high flow toilets are no longer permitted in new construction projects. Due to this, the City is limiting the number of toilet rebates in 2015 in favour of adding appliance rebates in association with the bi-annual BC Hydro programs.

Landscape Watering

Landscape watering includes watering lawns, gardens, vegetable plots, planters and pots. Residential outdoor water use makes up 30% of all water use. In Metro Vancouver, there are lawn watering restrictions every year from June 1 to September 30. The City is working to encourage conscientious outdoor water use with awareness programs and reminder notes.

Based on our respondents, less than half water their lawn regularly. Of this percentage, more than half use automated sprinklers, which would include multi-family buildings, strata's and businesses. We encourage everyone to adjust their sprinklers to meet the kind of summer we are having and not just water at every opportunity. Simple do-it-yourself sprinkler systems can include rain or soil moisture sensors to help limit overwatering. A simple manual shut off timer can be useful to stop a sprinkler after a set time for those who are busy and perhaps could leave the sprinkler on for an extended time.

In general, our respondents only water their lawns on average once a week, but may water other garden areas about three times a week.

Water Service Replacement

Single family homes in the City receive their water from pipes buried under the street. Small copper or plastic pipes carry the water from the City pipes into homes. Overtime, these pipes can degrade and eventually leak. Leaks can occur on either side of the property line (City or private).

If you notice new and/or excessive water or wet areas between your home and the road, there could be a leak in the water service pipes. The City actively replaces water services on City property as part of new construction or watermain replacement throughout the year, and addresses leaky services too. Please call City Operations (604-987-7155) if you have any concerns about leakage on the City part of your service.

Based on our respondents, more than 25% of single family homes have replaced their water service due to leaks or as part of other work.

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