Monday, 23 July 2012

Urban Water and your Property

The following blog post was written by Mike Price, former general manager of Toronto Water and highly valued Ecology Action Centre volunteer. This  post provides a comprehensive overview on the issues and solutions related to incoming water on a property. A subsequent post will look at outgoing water, or drainage. Thanks for the great blog contribution, Mike! 

Downspout deco-chain (Photo: M. Price)
The water used on a typical urban lot comes from two directions. Down from the sky or out of a water pipe. Rainfall can be good, and sometimes hazardous, but we don’t make the best use of it. The water from your tap (potable) can be from several sources:
        - Private untreated supply from a well on the property
        - Municipal treated supply, from the tap, originates from surface water (lake or river) or ground water from wells

·        Current Issues regarding municipal water supplies

      -  Surface waters, lakes and rivers, can become contaminated from human activities. 
      -  The volume of supply from surface water in Canada is dwindling due in part to ‘climate change’, but also due to increased demand. 
      -  Ground water supplies are similarly impacted but depending on the depth of the well the ability to replenish is being negatively impacted by human intervention.
      -   A large amount of energy is used to treat and pump the municipal water to reservoirs and around the water distribution system. 
      -  During hot summer months up to 50% of the water supplied is used for external ground watering.
       - Throughout the year about 60% of the building water use is for flushing toilets

Recreational beach closure (Photo: M.Price)

. Current solutions for urban water providers and users

    Water providers (Province, Municipalities and/or water utilities)

  -   Prepare and implement Source Water Protection Plans
  -   Prepare and promote Water Efficiency Plans
  -   Actively seek out and repair water pipe leaks
  -   Eliminate unnecessary fire hydrant flushing
  -   Minimize energy used in the treatment and distribution of potable water
  -   Prepare and regulate Pollution Prevention Plans
  -   Prepare and implement Storm Water Management Plans
   -  Mitigate the impacts of Combined Sewer Overflows

   Water users (residential and ICI property owners)

 -  Minimize tap water use
     a)   Low flush toilets
     b)   Reduced volume shower and tap heads
     c)   Grey water re-use (for toilet flushing)
    d)   Use more drought resistant garden plants (called Xeriscaping)
    e)   Eco-gardening
     f)   Use timers on automatic sprinklers

 - Maximize rain water use
     a)   Rainwater harvesting
               1.   Downspout disconnection
               2.   Grade property to keep rainwater from running off the property
               3.   Use rain barrels for garden watering
               4.   Create specific areas for a rain garden
               5.   Minimize paved areas
Rain barrel installed at disconnected downspout  (Photo: M. Price)

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