Tools for Home

DroughtSmart Brochures

Check out the following brochures full of practical techniques for saving water around your house and yard.

In your home

DroughtSmart AppliancesDroughtSmart LeaksDroughtSmart ToiletsDroughtSmart Showerhead

In your yard

DroughtSmart Lawn CareDroughtSmart GardeningDroughtSmart Rain Barrel

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Water Conservation Tips

The average British Columbian uses 353 litres of fresh water every day – almost 20% more than the national average. While we may not have to worry about “running out” of water, being more efficient has some very important benefits  for us all:

  • more water in streams for fish and ecosystems
  • healthy and abundant groundwater and aquifers
  • less sewage disposed in the environment
  • reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions
  • lower costs for providing water services
  • deferring the need for expensive water treatment up- grades or new water sources

Water conservation starts with understanding how water gets used and doing the same with less. The tips below can help you to make small adjustments to how you do things:

Play your part, be water smart graphic

Become a water detective and sniff out these worst offenders for wasting water.

Leaky toilets  or toilets  that run after flushing can waste thousands of litres per year. Test for leaks using a small amount of food colouring or a dye tablet and fix leaks and running toilets immediately.  Free dye tablets are available for pick-up at the CVRD office (175 Ingram Street in Duncan).

Leaky faucets and showerheads waste an equally huge amount of water. Most water leaks can be repaired using inexpensive washers available at your local hardware store. Consider switching to a low flow showerhead. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.  Free flow rate bags to measure the flow of faucets and showerheads are available for pick-up at the CVRD office (175 Ingram Street in Duncan).

Toilets that use 13 to 20 litres per flush are water hogs. Replace your old model toilets with high efficiency toilets  (3 to 6 litres per flush). Electoral area residents are eligible for a $75 low flush toilet  rebate program (application form).

Top loading laundry machines are inefficient and can use up to 3 times as much water as front loading machines. The next time you buy a washer, make water efficiency a top priority.



In your home


  • Shortening your shower by 2 minutes can save about 40 litres of water.
  • Using the toilet  as a wastebasket  is a bad idea. Every time you flush a facial tissue or other small bit of trash, you waste up to 13 liters of water.
  • Install water aerators on your faucets. Aerators dramatically reduce water use by mixing it with air.
  • Turning off the water after you’ve wet your toothbrush can save 10 litres.


  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full, using the most efficient energy and water settings.
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.  If you only have one sink, you can use a basin or large pot of water for rinsing.
  • Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them under running water before loading your dishwasher.
  • Don’t let the faucet run while you clean fruit  or vegetables. Instead rinse them in a sink with a stopper or in a pan of clean water.
  • Install water saving aerators on your kitchen faucet.
  • Check out these tips for conserving water while you rinse your recyclables


In your yard

Outdoor use accounts for the majority of our summer water use, mainly for watering lawns and gardens.


  • Let your lawn go dormant in the summer.  A brown lawn is not a dead lawn, and it will go green again when the rains return in the fall.
  • Convert part or all of your yard to native plant species which require much less water than a lawn.
  • Make your watering more efficient.
  • Water deeply and infrequently to promote deep, healthy roots.  Once a week is enough. Overwatering or frequent, shallow watering, can weaken your lawn.
  • Raise your mower blades – longer grass (3 inches is ideal) shades the soil and prevents evaporation.
  • Aerate your lawn, top-dress with compost, and use the mulch feature on your mower to improve water retention.
  • Water in the early morning or late evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.  If you have a timer, you can set it to run during the night.
  • Maintain your irrigation system.  Leaks or broken sprinkler heads waste water.



  • Mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants to retain water in the soil.  Adding compost to the soil helps maintain soil moisture.
  • Water in the early morning or late evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.
  • Hand water or install a drip irrigation system so that water only goes to the areas that need it.  Avoid watering paths, patios, or driveways.
  • Consider a rainwater collection system (even a simple rainbarrel) to save water for the dry season.  Re-use water (e.g. old water from water jugs, pet dishes, kids pools) for watering plants rather than dumping it out.



  • Sweep your driveway rather than spraying it clean with a hose or pressure washer.
  • A dirty car shows that you’re serious about saving water.  There’s no road salt or brine to corrode your car during the summer, so weekly washing is not necessary.  Commercial car washes are another option that often use less water than washing at home.


Explore some useful tools to help you calculate and reduce your household water use.

Average Water Usage
Reduction Strategies
Brushing teeth
10 litres (3 gallons) per day
Fill glass for rinsing instead of running water
150 litres (40 gallons) for a 10 minute shower
Use water-saving showerheads; reduce shower time to 5 minutes
At least 75 litres (20 gallons) for each bath
Bathe small children together
Flushing toilet
100 litres (30 gallons) per person per day (Toilets account for 43% of daily indoor water consumption)
Install ultra-low-flow / dual flush toilets; fix leaks
Washing clothes
170 litres (45 gallons) per load
Install energy and water efficient models
20 litres (5 gallons) per day
Install low-flow aerators; cool water in refrigerator instead of running water until cold; wash fruits and vegetables in small bucket of water (re-use for watering plants)
Running dishwasher
60 litres (15 gallons) per load
Run only full loads; install energy and water efficient models; wash by hand
Outdoor watering
Over 1,300 litres (350 gallons) per day
Use drip irrigation wherever feasible; water early in the morning; focus water only where needed; install a rain barrel
Hosing driveway
550 litres (150 gallons) each time
Use a broom instead; reduce frequency (e.g., 1 / year)
Washing car
Over 500 litres (130 gallons) per car
Reduce frequency to zero as soon as drought level 2 arrives
Estimating your household water use

What is domestic water use?

Water used for household purposes, such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes, dishes, and dogs, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens.

How to estimate your household domestic water use?

The Cowichan Water Challenge website has a home water use calculator to give you an idea of how much water your household uses per year.  You can divide by the number of members of your household to estimate your personal domestic water use.

Compare yourself to the following benchmarks (averages):

  • BC: 128 cubic meters per person per year
  • Canada: 99 cubic meters per person per year
  • Germany: 70 cubic meters per person per year
  • UK: 54 cubic meters per person per year

Other water use calculators

How does a water footprint differ from water use?

Water footprints include domestic water use and fresh water that is used to produce goods and services consumed: agricultural, industrial and professional. Freshwater that is used to produce goods and services has two components: the part of the footprint that falls inside the country (internal water footprint) and the part of the footprint that is due to consumption of goods and services originating from other countries in the world (external water footprint).



  1. Living Water Smart
  2. Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2011) National water footprint accounts: the green, blue and grey water footprint of production and consumption, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 50, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands.
  3. UN Human Development Reports:




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About us

The New Normal is an initiative of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

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More info

Kate Miller, Manager
Environmental Services
Strategic Services Department
Cowichan Valley Regional District
250.746.2509 / 1.800.665.3955

Living the New Normal

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