Campaign to reduce water consumption

Led by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation, the Mon empreinte bleue campaign, which is part of the Stratégie québécoise d’économie d’eau potable, aims to raise awareness regarding the use of water in the home.

Despite a perception of abundance and free access, we know that water services require constant monitoring and represent significant costs for municipalities. As the protection of this collective wealth is everyone’s responsibility, it is necessary to raise citizens’ awareness regarding this environmental and economic issue.

What is your daily water consumption? Do the test! (French only)

A few numbers that speak for themselves:

• Average shower flow: 9.5 litres/minute (Code de construction, ChapitreIII, RBQ)

• Average duration of a shower: 7.8 minutes (Residential End use, Water Resource Foundation (2016)

• Average duration of a song: 5 minutes

• Our calculation : (9.5 L/min) x (7,8-5) minutes x 7 days≈ 186,2 litres/person/week

• Average faucet flow: 8.3 litres/ min (Alliance for Water Efficiency 2012)

• Duration of teeth brushing: 3 minutes, 2 times per day (Canadian Dental Association)

• Our calculation : (8.3 L/min) x 3 minutes x 2 brushings per day x 7 days = 349 litres/week

• Standard toilet flow : 13.25 litres/flush (WaterSense, 2012)

• Low-flow toilet flow: 4,8 litres/flush (WaterSense, 2012)

• Toilet use is approximately 5 times per day (Residential End use, Water Resource Foundation (2016)

• Volume of an Olympic pool : 2500 m³

• Our calculation : (13.25 -4.8) L/flush x 5 flushes/day x 365 days x 8.3 M occupants) ≈ 127 996 375 m3/year

• 127 996 375 ÷2500 m³ ≈ 51 199 Olympic pools

Context behind the Provincial strategy

Water is undoubtedly a crucial issue in the 21st century. Whether used for home consumption, agriculture, energy production, transportation or recreation, its value is immeasurable. Furthermore, its uneven distribution on the planet makes it a coveted resource.

• In Quebec, fresh water makes up approximately 10% of the territory;
• Quebec has of 3% of the world’s renewable fresh water;
• Quebec is one of the world’s largest consumers of water. The amount of water distributed per person in Quebec remains higher than in Ontario and Canada. In 2015, the amount of water distributed per person was 573 litres per person per day (l/pers/d) in Quebec. This is 28% higher than the Canadian average and 55% higher than in Ontario.

The 2011-2017 Stratégie québécoise d’économie d’eau potable was implemented by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) in partnership with municipal associations. It was part of the global context for tighter water policies, integrated management and sustainable development perspectives. It has enabled municipalities to acquire the tools needed to make a clear and accurate diagnosis of water use in each territory in relation to recognized standards.

Since the launch of the Strategy, the water distributed per person in Quebec has decreased by 26% in comparison to 2001. Therefore, thanks to actions in more than 600 municipalities, the 20% water reduction target per person has been exceeded. In order to equip municipalities and building owners in their water-saving efforts, the installation of water meters is underway in several municipalities and is expected to reach more than 90% of Quebec’s non-residential buildings. In addition, potential water loss accounted for a quarter of the amount of water distributed. A large portion of the distribution networks has been inspected and more than 10,000 leaks were repaired in 2015. However, the target to reduce by 20% the potential water leaks in water networks has not been met.

The 2019-2025 Strategy is supported by a range of partners which include representatives of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM), l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ), the City of Montreal, the City of Quebec, the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) and the Réseau Environnement.

It should also be noted that the unit volumes of water distributed by Quebec municipalities are higher than the North American and European averages, resulting in higher operating costs.

In addition, raising awareness about saving water needs to be prioritized in order to avoid or postpone the construction or expansion of new water infrastructures whenever possible. Lastly, improving knowledge and awareness supports sound water and water infrastructure management.

Goals of the Strategy

By 2025, the three objectives for Quebec as a whole are:

• A 20% reduction in the amount of water distributed per person compared to 2015;

• Achieving a moderate level of leaks according to the International Water Association index;

• Gradually increasing the investments needed to sustain related assets while gradually eliminating the deficit related to maintaining water assets.

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