Facts & Fiction
Drinking Water Source Protection

The need for source water protection is clear when you consider that water use in the 20th century increased about twice as fast as the population increased.

Myth: Drinking Water Source Protection planning will cost municipalities money.

Fact: In addition to providing grants for technical studies, the Province of Ontario is fully funding the planning aspect of Drinking Water Source Protection. Funding for implementation is still under discussion, but the province has announced $7 million for early implementation in rural communities and has established a committee to address funding in rural areas of Ontario.

Myth: Only people in Southern Ontario will benefit from the Clean Water Act.

Fact: Drinking Water Source Protection will assist all watersheds in fully understanding their water resources and how best to protect them. Drinking Water Source Protection plans will be developed on a local basis and will include substantial public consultation.

Myth: The Clean Water Act has no provisions for protecting private water users.

Fact: The Clean Water Act does focus solely on municipal drinking water supplies. However, the Act does contain a provision for clusters of private well and surface water users to opt in through their municipalities. In addition, all will benefit through general source water protection education.

Myth: Drinking Water Source Protection will involve meters on private wells

Fact: Metering is not a condition of the Clean Water Act or Drinking Water Source Protection. The issue of water meters rests with individual municipalities.

Myth: There is an unlimited supply of fresh water.

Fact: More than two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water – the volume representing almost 1 500 million cubic kilometres. About 94% of this water is found in the oceans, almost 6% is located underground and in glaciers, whereas rivers, lakes, soil moisture and atmospheric vapour, which constitute the major source of drinking water, account for a mere 0.0221% of the total volume!

Myth: Water conservation means water bans and doing without.

Fact: Water conservation doesn't mean cramping our lifestyles by doing without; it simply means reducing the amount of water we waste.

Myth: All Canadian municipalities have sewage treatment.

Fact: In 1996, 16% of Canada's urban population did not have any form of sewage treatment.

Myth: Very few toilets leak and those that do don't waste much water.

Fact: As many as 25% of all toilets leak. A toilet that runs on after flushing can leak at the rate of 20 to 40 litres per hour – that's 200 000 to 400 000 litres per year!

Myth: Automatic dishwashers waste water compared to washing by hand.

Fact: If you hand wash dishes twice a day, you use about 70 litres of water. If you fill the dishwasher to capacity once per day, you use only about 40 litres of water.

Myth: There's plenty of water in the summer, so conservation isn't as important.

Fact: The opposite is true. While water supplies tend to remain fairly constant from season to season, the rate at which people use water – primarily for watering lawns and landscaping – rises sharply in the summer. In fact, water demand nearly doubles in the summer, creating a peak demand problem and higher costs for the local water utility. Therefore, water conservation during the summer is crucial to avoid water rationing and to keep costs down.

Myth: You always use less water when you shower than when you have a bath.

Fact: This is not always the case. It depends on the length of your shower and the type of showerhead you have, as well as the amount of water in the bathtub. A six minute shower under a standard showerhead uses the same amount of water as a half-filled bathtub.

Source: Environment Canada

Did you know?

Based on the three rules of water conservation – reduce, repair and retrofit – a typical household can reduce water consumption by 40% or more, with little or no effect on lifestyle.

The average human needs approximately 5.7 litres of water per day for drinking and cooking. That's approximately the same amount of water used when a person in the industrialized world leaves a tap running for 20 to 40 seconds.

In 1999, water use was 70% higher when consumers faced flat rates rather than volume-based rates. And yet, only about 56% of Canada's urban population was metered in 1999.

In 1999, about 26% of Canadian municipalities with water distribution systems reported problems with water availability within the previous five years.

It takes between 25 and 45 litres of water per day to cover a person's basic health and sanitation needs. It takes 70 litres of water to refine one litre of gasoline.

The average cost of 58 litres of water in developing nations equals 15 minutes of pay. The average cost of 850 litres of water in North America equals about six minutes of pay.

It takes about 45% more water to make a slice of white bread (10.6 gallons/40 litres) than a slice of brown bread (7.3 gallons/28 litres) because more flour is used and because that flour requires more processing to remove the brown colour.

One woman in a developing nation can carry between 15 and 22 litres of water home from a single trip to the village well – if she is lucky enough to live in a village with a well. The standard North American toilet uses approximately 18 litres of water each time it is flushed.

Environment Canada