CAA-Quebec - Maison Écol'Eau

In the summer, many municipalities are required to restrict watering of lawns and gardens because demand for water is too great. Did you know that yard watering, filling swimming pools and performing outdoor maintenance account for about a third of all drinking water consumed by the average family? There are simple solutions for reducing our water consumption.

Tips for saving water 

Outdoor maintenance

  • Clean your driveway with a broom, not a hose.
  • Wash your car with a bucket of water, and rinse using a hose with a trigger nozzle.
  • Wash walls using a water-efficient spray device.

Pools and spas

  • Choose a smaller pool. (A pool can contain 100,000 litres of water or more!)
  • Cover your pool with a liner to reduce evaporation.
  • To prevent water loss due to overflow (splashing), fill your pool so that the water surface is 20 cm below the pool edge.
  • Buy a water-efficient pool filter.
  • Use a pre-filter so that you need to backwash only three or four times a season.
  • Backwash your pool for one to two minutes only (long enough for the dirty water to clear).
  • Periodically check for cracks in your pool, and immediately repair any that appear.
  • Choose environmentally friendly maintenance products and methods.
  • Consider building a swimming pond that is naturally irrigated and filtered.

Watering

  • Keep the grass higher: 6-8 cm (2.5 to 3.2 inches) or more.
  • Water your lawn in the morning or evening, when the sun shines less brightly.
  • Use drip hoses instead of a sprinkler.
  • Spread mulch (straw, sawdust or leaves, for instance) in your garden to conserve moisture.
  • Check how much rain has fallen during the week by leaving a container outside. Your lawn needs 2.5 cm (1 inch) of rain per week. If you have to water with a sprinkler in order to reach this level, put the same measuring container under it.
  • Aerate the soil in your yard once per year to allow water to penetrate more easily.
  • Use fewer impermeable surfaces (asphalt, paving stones, etc.) so that the ground can absorb as much water as possible.
  • Use a rainwater collection system for your outdoor watering needs.

Collecting rainwater, water great idea!
One of the most efficient options is to recover rainwater for outdoor use. Rainwater collection is an age-old technique and in many parts of the world, rainwater remains the only easily accessible source of water.  

Benefits:

  • Enables better control of erosion on your property;
  • Conserves drinking water;
  • Reduces pressure on municipal infrastructures (storm sewers).

Conventional home (without a rainwater collection system)
With a sloped, shingled roof, rainwater flows into the gutters and then down onto your lawn and driveway. Water runs off these hard surfaces, following downward slopes. Besides causing erosion, it carries a lot of debris and contaminants (de-icing salts, oil from the roadway, pesticides) directly into the sewers, and then into waterways.

Improved home (equipped with a rainwater collection system)
Rainwater on the roof flows into the gutters. From there, it passes through a filter that screens out debris. The water is then collected in a large container equipped with a tap. The container is covered, to reduce evaporation, algae formation and insect proliferation.
A variant of this system directs the water to a large underground tank. There are also models suitable for urban settings.

Green roofs: economical and pretty
A rooftop covered with plants? Why not! A green roof, or living roof, retains 50% to 70% of rainwater. It is an energy-efficient system that helps keep a home warm in winter and cool in summer. Green roofs also beautify urban environments, absorb dust, improve air quality, reduce noise and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Do you live near a water body?

Natural shorelines help plants and animals thrive, protect water quality and reduce soil erosion. If you live by a lake, river or stream, it is best to protect the natural vegetation of the shoreline or to manage it as naturally as possible. Avoid using pesticides or fertilizers near the water.

Green gardens: a summary
There are plenty of ways to create magnificent gardens that are easy to care for, ecological and water-efficient!

  • Reduced grass surfaces; they are replaced by various species of plants. Indigenous ground-covering plants (rye grass, Kentucky bluegrass, clover) are better adapted to our climate and to dry conditions. A lawn is not a natural ecosystem: a single plant species planted over a large area promotes the growth of weeds, insects and other plants and animals.
  • Minimal use of fertilizers and pesticides – indigenous plants can help.
  • Limited impermeable surfaces to ensure that the ground absorbs as much water as possible.
  • Longer grass (6-8 cm or more).
  • Mulch in gardens, to conserve moisture.
  • Rainwater collected and used in the garden.

Curiosity: The five stages of the water cycle

Precipitation:
Clouds are loaded with condensed water vapour. It becomes liquid droplets, which fall to earth as rain or snow.

Infiltration: Large amounts of water penetrate the surface of the earth. It nourishes plants and is filtered downward. It then flows toward waterways or the water table.

Evaporation: The heat of the sun causes water to evaporate from the surface of bodies of water.

Condensation: High in the atmosphere, water vapour cools and forms clouds.