Have you ever wondered what you could possibly do that would make a difference to the water in your watershed? Here's some ideas to get you started.
Water Conservation Tips
Saving water is easy and it can help you save on your utility bills. Water conservation can be done in and outside the home. Some basic water saving tips:
- Watch for leaks! An obvious sign of a leak is a dripping faucet. To check if your toilet is leaking, place food colouring in the toilet tank and see if it seeps into the bowl without flushing the toilet. An unusually high water bill can also signal a leak.
- Upgrading old appliances can save water and money. Older refrigerators, air conditioners, and ice-makers are cooled with water, but newer ones are air-cooled. Newer washing machines also offer cycle and load size adjustments that can save you money.
- Replace shower-heads and toilets with newer, low flow models.
- Run the dishwasher and laundry machine only when you have a full load.
- Wash dark coloured clothing in cold water. This saves water and energy, as well as maintains the colours.
- Use a pan of water to wash your fruits and vegetables, instead of running water. This water can also be reused to water houseplants.
- Defrost food in the refrigerator instead of under running water.
- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
- Water in the morning or evenings to reduce evaporation.
- Use a rain gauge or can, to measure rainfall on your lawn, and adjust watering accordingly. Your lawn only needs 1" of water each week.
- Avoid watering your lawn on windy days.
- Buy a rain barrel for collecting rainwater to use for watering plants.
- To reduce evaporation, use sprinklers that spray water close to the ground rather than those that shoot out.
- When watering your lawn, adjust sprinklers so they are not watering the house, sidewalk, or street.
- Only apply water your soil can absorb, and aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots.
- Check outdoor faucets, sprinklers, and hoses for leaks.
- When installing a lawn, pick a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions. Shrubs and ground covers are ideal for hard-to-water areas.
- Allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This helps to retain moisture.
Easy Beneficial Management Practices
A beneficial management practice (BMP) is an action taken to lessen the impact of human activity on water quality. Here are some basic BMPs for you to try at home, at play, or on the farm!
Lessen your impact at home
The chemicals used around homes and cottages can affect our rivers and lakes. Untreated runoff from these areas enters water bodies from storm drains. Please take care when handling and disposing of chemicals and other waste materials so that they do not end up in our water bodies.
- Most towns and cities have Toxic Waste Round-ups where you can safely dispose of paints, batteries, motor oil, cleaners, etc. Contact your local municipal office for information on proper disposal.
- Use phosphate-free or biodegradable soaps, detergents and cleaners.
- Use a broom rather than a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Not only does this save water, but oil, antifreeze, salt and other contaminants will not be washed right into the storm drains or nearby waterways.
- Do not apply herbicides if rain or wind is in the forecast! Spot spray dandelions instead of applying herbicides or an herbicide-fertilizer mix over the whole lawn.
- Medicines flushed down the toilet are not removed at the water treatment plant. Please return them to the pharmacy.
- Washing your car in the street sends all your soap and oil right to the river. Go to a car wash that recycles or treats their water.
- Drinking water taken from private sources such as wells should be tested on a regular basis. Contact your health region for free testing of your household water supply.
- Keep your vehicle motors in good running condition. When it rains, those driveway spills are drained into the storm sewer.
Lessen your impact at play
Our leisure time is important to maintain a healthy mind and body. Some of our actions can be harmful to the natural environment and prevent others from enjoying these wild spaces. Help work towards improving and keeping clean the play spaces that we share with wildlife and other humans.
- Remember to scoop when they poop! Rain tends to wash pet waste and associated bacteria into storm drains and waterways, resulting in polluted water.
- When camping, wash your dishes, clothes and yourself using a dishpan, not in a lake, creek or river. When you have finished, dispose of the grey water in an approved facility away from water.
- Wash your vehicle only when necessary. Go to a car wash that disposes of the dirty water properly.
- Refuel with care; gas and oil spills seriously degrade water quality.
- Reducing your ATV and boat speed prevents damage to sensitive riparian vegetation that acts as a natural filter of nutrients and contaminants. Slower speeds also protect against shoreline or stream-side erosion.
Lessen your impact on the farm
Groundwater and surface water contamination can occur from leaking sewage systems, fertilizer and manure spreading and pesticide spraying. These pose potential threats to you and your neighbour's health.
- Use alternative watering systems such as solar, wind or nose-powered pumps, to draw livestock away from natural water sources. This reduces direct fecal contamination of water, provides a reliable clean water source to promote animal health, and reduces pressure on the riparian area.
- Before each application of fertilizer, test the soil to ensure that excess nutrients are not added as they may run off your fields polluting surface water, dugouts or wells.
- To stabilize shorelines and reduce bank erosion, use livestock access ramps and fencing.
- By controlling the timing and intensity of grazing, you allow stream-side vegetation opportunity to grow and this results in healthy shorelines.
- Protect water quality by reducing soil and wind erosion. Permanent vegetative cover, shelter-belts and reduced tillage are all practical ways to achieve these results.
- Locate wells at least 100 metres away from potential sources of contamination and make sure wells are properly sealed and cased.
- Avoid spilling fuels, antifreeze, paint thinner or other chemicals on land or in water. If you do, be sure to clean it up fast!
- To reduce contamination by runoff, spread manure away from watercourses, leave a buffer strip of at least 30 metres adjacent to surface water and incorporate manure into soil within 48 hours of application.
For information on environmental farm plan programs, visit Growing Forward or contact the ARD toll-free phone resource at 310-FARM (3276).