Water

 

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Water

In a land with so much fresh water, it doesn’t always seem as if there is a need for conservation. But reducing our water use is an effective way to:

  • Reduce demand on water treatment and supply systems
  • Reduce demand on wastewater (sewage) collection and treatment systems
  • Reduce your household charges for water and sanitary sewer

Where does London ON  get it’s water come from?

London has had several sources of drinking water, some of which have been in operation since the 1870’s. In the days of the early settlers, the Thames River was used for drinking water as well as for transportation. Since that time, both surface water (lakes and rivers) and groundwater (wells) sources have been used. Springbank Park, Pond Mills and the Beck Wells Systems were used as water sources. By 1967, the size and the needs of the City contributed to the requirement of a pipeline from Lake Huron. In 1995, the surface water supply system was expanded to Lake Erie by connecting to the Elgin Area Water Supply System. Nowadays, this system is known as the Lake Huron and Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System, for more information visit here: https://huronelginwater.ca/.

Water from Lake Huron and Lake Erie are drawn and treated using separate water systems. These systems are protected through the Source Water Protection program. The Source Water Protection program, established and funded by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), began as a result of the drinking water tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000. Together, these two water supply systems provide water to about 505,000 people every day. London using about 85% of the water treated at the Lake Huron plant and the remainder comes from the Lake Erie plant.The process is closely directed by the Ministry of the Environment through rules and protocols. Groundwater wells are only used during an emergency as a back-up water source for London.

Water at Lake Huron enters our water supply system just north of Grand Bend. It is clarified and purified at the Grand Bend Filtration Plant and then pumped through a 1.2 meter diameter pipeline to the 109 million liter reservoirs at Arva (just north of London). This water supply system – from Grand Bend to Arva – is called the Lake Huron Water Supply system. From Arva, the water is then pumped into the City of London water distribution system.

Lake Erie water is drawn from the lake and purified at the Elgin plant located east of Port Stanley. The Elgin Water Supply System, which was expanded to include the City of London in 1994, supplies the cities of St. Thomas and London and several smaller communities. Before water reaches London it is stored in a 27,300,000 litre (or 6 million gallon) reservoir located northeast of St. Thomas.

The City of London’s water system has 1,550 km of pipelines, 8,500 fire hydrants and 110,000 water meters. The city has been fully metered since 1925.  London also has several underground wells. These are maintained for use as emergency water supply. Yearly, over 10,000 water quality tests are done to ensure quality, safety and taste.

Up until 1993, the Ministry of the Environment was responsible for water and sewage projects. In 1993, the Province created the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) a crown corporation which focuses on the operation of water and sewage systems.

Stormwater Drainage System

Stormwater originates from the natural flow of water from rain and snow. London’s system includes thousands of catch-basins, hundreds of kilometers of sewer pipes, numerous channels and more than 60 management pools, 110 kms of creeks and the Thames River.

Wastewater Treatment System

London has over 1,230 km of sanitary sewer (284 km of trunk sewers, 300 mm or greater in diameter), and 36 pumping stations with over 45 km of force main. City of London operates six wastewater treatment plants which are located along the Thames River.

How is our water treated?

Our drinking water goes through a treatment process involving settling tanks and filtration to remove particles. Chemicals are used in the treatment process to provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing drinking water. Alum is used to help settle out finer sediments, chlorination to kill microorganisms and fluoride to help prevent cavities. For more info refer to: https://www.london.ca/residents/Sewers-Flooding/Sewage-Treatment/Pages/Wastewater-Treatment.aspx

Water testing is conducted continuously to ensure a safe and reliable source of drinking water. Both the water treatment and water distribution systems are maintained to safeguard our water and prevent contamination. The Joint Boards manage the water system from the Great Lakes source to the city boundary while the City manages the distribution system which ensures the water quality and quantity for our residents. Water testing results satisfy or exceed government requirements and standards (refer to drinking water test results).

Water used in our sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets goes to a sewage treatment plant. This wastewater is treated before being discharged into the Thames River. Water that runs off our eavestroughs, lawns, driveways and streets enters the storm sewer system and is discharged directly into the Thames River.

Water testing is conducted continuously to ensure a safe and reliable source of drinking water. Both the water treatment and water distribution systems are maintained to safeguard our water and prevent contamination. The Joint Boards manage the water system from the Great Lakes source to the city boundary while the City manages the distribution system which ensures the water quality and quantity for our residents. Water testing results satisfy or exceed government requirements and standards (refer to drinking water test results).

Every human needs about 2.4 litres of water each day to survive. In 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to have access to clean drinking water. The Assembly stated that a sufficient amount of water for both personal and domestic use is 50-100 L per person per day. In contrast, the average Canadian uses over 300 litres of water per day.  If we include industrial water use in this figure, it increases by approximately 50%. Canada is the second highest consumer of water per capita, only exceeded by the US.

Where does our water go?

Water used in our sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets goes to a sewage treatment plant. This wastewater is treated before being discharged into the Thames River. Water that runs off our eavestroughs, lawns, driveways and streets enters the storm sewer system and is discharged directly into the Thames River.

Every human needs about 2.4 litres of water each day to survive. An additional 5 litres per person is required for basic needs such as cooking and washing. Some countries live very close to this minimum water requirement. In Kenya, for example, the average daily water use per person is 13.6 litres. In contrast, the average Canadian uses up to 300 litres of water per day. If we include industrial water use in this figure, it increases by approximately 50%. Only the United States exceeds our per capita water consumption.

It is clear that we can make changes to use water more efficiently. This will help us maintain a sustainable supply of clean water, something essential to our survival.

According to EcoHome a low-flow showerhead will “save 42,340 litres of water and 1180 kWh of power per year. For a one-time purchase item ranging in price from $10 to $50, it quickly pays for itself.

How we use water in our home

In London, the average person uses over 250 Litres of water each day in their home.Only 9% of a Londoner’s water use occurs in the kitchen, compared to the 54% that is used in the bathroom. The rest is from washing clothes, general cleaning and drinking. To review the City’s reports or other water conservation ideas and resources, visit https://www.london.ca/residents/Water/Pages/default.aspx.

The City has a 25-cent fixed fee that is applied to each monthly bill for all single family residential water customers in London. These funds are collected over the year and applied to the customer assistance program, if the money from these funds has been used-up at any point in the calendar year, then the program will be suspended until January 1st of the following year when the funds are topped up again.

The new charge will contribute to a special reserve fund and will be drawn against for:

  1. Helping low-income Londoners deal with crisis situations on their monthly water bills using existing programs managed and delivered through partnerships with London Hydro, the Salvation Army, and the City. An annual fund of $100,000 will be kept and topped up each year to help those in need;
  2. Helping low-income Londoners make changes to the fixtures in their homes to help lower  their monthly water use. On average 40% of home water use is from the toilet; and
  3. Helping London’s water customers pay for water and wastewater charges one time that have occurred as a result of a plumbing failure in their homes.

A home with dripping taps wastes about a litre of water a day!

Ways to protect water quality

Practically everything we do affects the environment and our water supply. There are many things each of us can do to protect water quality such as:

  • Avoid hazardous cleaning products and never pour them down the drain, choose non-toxic household products when possible
  • Don’t pour substances like paint, paint thinner, and degreasers, solvents, or pesticides down the drain – take them to the household hazardous waste drop off site
  • Don’t flush old/expired medicine down the toilet, return it to your pharmacy
  • Don’t use coloured toilet paper (the dyes are pollutants and take more time to decompose)
  • Avoid pesticide use at your home
  • Buy organic (pesticide-free) fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain septic systems regularly (have sludge pumped every 2 years to prevent harmful pathogens and bacteria from entering the environment) and don’t use septic system cleaners
  • Eliminate the use of salt on driveways and sidewalks (it increases the levels of sodium and chloride in soil and water which harms plants and wildlife) – use calcium or corn ice-removal substitute
  • Use phosphate free soaps (especially in dishwashers, washing machines) to reduce sewage treatment and harm to the environment
  • Don’t use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products (most contain triclosan, a pesticide that harms aquatic life)

Saving water inside

  • Install a low-flow aerator on the sink faucet and showerhead to reduce water flow (some of the water is then replaced with air, so that the water pressure remains constant)
  • Limit your showers to five minutes and consider turning the water off while using soap, shampoo etc.
  • Consider installing a low flow toilet using only 4.8 litres per flush, some models use even less
  • Fill the sink rather than run water when rinsing dishes
  • Collect the water used for washing vegetables to water plants
  • Avoid using garbage disposals i.e. garburator (they use enormous amounts of water and put a strain on the waste water management system)
  • Wash dishes and clothes only when you have a full load and adjust the water level controls
  • Avoid flushing unnecessarily (do not use the toilet as a wastebasket)
  • Keep a container of water in the fridge instead of letting the faucet run to get cold water
  • Fill the sink for shaving and don’t run the water continually when brushing your teeth

Did you know?

An average London household gets their daily water needs for slightly over a dollar a day, less than the price of one bottle of drinking water and it fulfils all of daily water needs. 54% of a Londoner’s water use comes from the bathroom, while only 9% comes from the kitchen.

According to McGill University, Canadians use 329 Litres of water per person per day. Environment and Climate Change Canada states that 30% of our water use comes from flushing the toilet, and 35% from bathing and showering.

Reducing Water Use in Your Home

Did You Know?

An average London household gets their daily water needs for slightly over a dollar a day, less than the price of one bottle of drinking water and it fulfils all of daily water needs. 54% of a Londoner’s water use comes from the bathroom, while only 9% comes from the kitchen.

According to McGill University, Canadians use 329 Litres of water per person per day. Environment and Climate Change Canada states that 30% of our water use comes from flushing the toilet, and 35% from bathing and showering.

Reducing Water Use in Your Home

If you are looking to reduce your water and sewer bill, consider installing a low flow showerhead or a low flow toilet. Showering, bathing, and toilet use account for the majority of water used in the home.

Household Size Average Consumption Monthly Install 6 Litre/Flush Toilet Annual Saving
1 person 250 cu.ft

$61.356/ month

2.185$/month

$44.50
2 people 500 cu.ft

$86.12/month

$88.99
3 people 750 cu.ft

$139.77/month

$137.79
4 people 1000 cu.ft

$193.43/month

$183.72
5 people 1250 cu.ft

$109.00/month

$229.65

 

Assumption: the average person flushes the toilet 5 times per day at home. Cost savings for low-flow toilets assume that 20-litres per flush toilet is replaced. Cost savings take into account water and sanitary sewer charges and are calculated at 2001 rates.

Assumptions are based on City of London’s water and wastewater rates (2018). According to the City, the average monthly water use for residential customers is 14m3, and most homes have a 16mm water meter, thus giving an average water bill of $74.88. Calculations based on a household of 4 people using this low-flow toilet.

Showerheads

Facts:

  • According to government regulations, standard shower heads cannot exceed 2.5 gallons/min (9.5L/min) at pressure of 80 psi (pounds/square inch).
  • Older shower heads may use around 6 gallons/min (22.71L/min)
  • Most low flow shower heads use only 1.5 gallons/min (5.6L/min)
  • A low flow shower head of 7.57 L/min, uses 60% less water than the standard shower heads and they reduce hot water use by 15%

Calculations were made assuming that for a household of four, each person takes four showers a week for 10 min per shower. Note, the savings do not take into account money saved on your electricity bill, but you would also save money on electricity because there is less water being heated for the shower.

  Average shower head (9.5L/min) Low flow shower head (5.6L/min)
Amount of water used per household per year (m3) 79.04 46.592
Amount of water saved per household per year (m3) 32.448
Savings per household per year $173.57

 

Toilets

Facts:

  • Toilets from before 1996 can be using around 13-20 L for each flush (65-100 L of water is used per person per day on these older toilets
  • Two options to replace high volume toilets include a high efficiency toilet (HET) or a dual flush toilet
  • Changing a 13 L toilet to a 4.8 L water efficient toilet will save about 41 L per person per day
  • A dual flush toilet uses a maximum of 6 L per flush for solid waste and 3 L per flush for liquids, this gives savings of 35-50 L of water per person per day

Calculations were made assuming that for a household of 4, each person flushes 5 times a day.

  13 L/flush toilet 4.8 L/flush toilet
Amount of water used per household per year (m3) 94.900 35.040
Amount of water saved per household per year (m3) 59.860
Savings per household per year $320.49

Saving water outside

  • Use mulch in the garden to reduce water needs
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways rather than hosing them down
  • Wash car with a bucket instead of wasting water with a hose
  • Select plants (trees and shrubs) that are drought-resistant – xeriscaping
  • Group plants that need the same amount of water together to make watering more efficient
  • Make sure soil has plenty of organic matter to hold water
  • Water plants and lawns early or late in the day to reduce evaporation
  • Water plants deeply but not as frequently in order to get healthier and stronger plants
  • Don’t overwater, it causes shorter root systems which make the plant more susceptible to dry conditions
  • Consider purchasing a rain barrel to save water for your garden sources
  • Remember, between June and the end of August, water use outdoors is restricted to even calendar days for even numbered homes, odd calendar days for odd numbered homes
  • Pick up after your pet – rain washes pet waste and bacteria into our storm drains
Sources:

City of London annual and summary water reports: https://www.london.ca/residents/Water/Water-System/Pages/Summary-and-Annual-Reports.aspx

Rainbarrels

Most Home Depot, Costco and Home Hardware locations carry rain barrels, so call your local location to see if they are in stock. By using a rain barrel you can save approximately 0.05 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, plus save money on your water bill.

Did you know? A moderate storm of 25 mm (1 inch) of rain produces over 2000 litres of runoff from a roof surface of 93 square metres of water

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Contacts:

OCWA http://www.ocwa.com/contact-us
LEN (Local groups) hello@londonenvironment.net  519-858-2039; https://www.londonenvironment.net/
City of London http://www.london.ca/residents/Water/Pages/default.aspx
Council of Canadians https://canadians.org/water

National office
inquiries@canadians.org
300-251 Bank Street
Ottawa ON  K2P 1X3
(Monday-Friday, 9-5 ET)
Toll-free: 1-800-387-7177
Telephone: (613) 233-2773
(613) 233-6776

Lake Huron & Elgin Area Water Systems https://huronelginwater.ca/