Canadian water use habits wasteful: study

by | Mar 21, 2013 | News

Photo Courtesy: Nicole-Koehler - Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy: Nicole-Koehler – Wikimedia Commons

By Nicholas Camilleri

Despite Friday’s being World Water Day, a report finds Canadians water use habits are down the drain.

RBC’s annual Canadian Water Attitudes study has found Canadians are more likely to repair their faulty Internet connection than fix their leaky faucet.

The report from RBC released Wednesday, was commissioned by the RBC Blue Water Project. It was conducted through an online survey, which gathered stats about water use and misuse from over 2,000 Canadians.

The RBC Blue Water project to promote and support charitable organizations and initiatives that work to protect water.

The survey found that 75 per cent would repair their faulty Internet connection with in a few hours or a day, while only 52 per cent would repair a leaky faucet in that same amount of time.

The survey also found that Canadians aren’t conscious enough about water use, as 65 per cent of those surveyed said they didn’t have a water meter.

In addition, the survey concluded that young adults 18-34 feel much more guilty about their lack of water use awareness in comparison to other age brackets, with 45 per cent admitting to feeling guilty about their negative impact on the environment.

Despite this stat, however, the study found young adults are the least likely to worry about over-watering the lawn and showering for more than five minutes.

Lindsay Walker, Humber’s sustainability manager, said the stats are reflective of Canadians not getting the point regarding water conservation.

“We aren’t paying a lot of attention,” she said. “The most important thing right now is communicating with others and being on the Internet.”

Walker said people clearly have higher priorities, like fixing a faulty Internet connection.

She said one reason the younger generation might feel guilty but not reflect that guilt in their water usage is because they aren’t the ones paying the bills.

“Maybe it’s because younger people don’t own a house or (they’re) less likely to be the direct person to pay the bills, so they don’t see the correlation,” she said. “Its clear that the older you are, the more conscious you are.”

Walker said Humber is always looking for new ways to control water use on campus.

“We’re always looking at different ways to limit water use,” she said.  According to Walker, in addition to automatic faucets and low-flow toilets, the school has been testing out a new line of low-flow toilets (using only 3 liters per flush) in one of the res buildings, and they haven’t caused any problems yet.

“I worry about it more than my employees,” said Paul Aguire, a Swiss Chalet restaurant owner from Georgetown, Ont., northwest of Toronto.

Aguire said he pays close attention to water use in the restaurant, but also made it clear that running a restaurant does require excessive amounts of water.

He said he doesn’t just worry about the environment but also the condition of his equipment such as dishwashers, plumbing, coffee machines.

“Water’s not cheap these days. The more you waste your water when using equipment the more you risk equipment damage.”

Walker has a few tips for students and faculty looking to be more conscious of the water use.

“The big one… we learned in our grade two class. Turn off tap while rinsing, take shorter showers, when you are washing dishes, don’t let the water run,” she said, adding that if you don’t have a refillable water bottle, you should get one.