As drought looms across the province, the need to conserve water is becoming increasingly critical – not only for our sake, but for the sake of the wild animals we share it with.
“Hot, dry conditions are a reminder of just how essential a resource water is - for us and for wildlife,” says Meghann Cant, animal welfare educator for the BC SPCA. “We all depend on healthy water ecosystems.”
Keeping our water ecosystems healthy means, in part, reducing our water consumption. Unfortunately, here in British Columbia, we tend to use much more water than we need to – about 80 litres more per person per day than the Canadian average, in fact. “We only drink about 3 per cent of the water we use,” says Cant. “The rest washes our cars, waters our gardens, or simply flushes or drains away.”
So how can we minimize our impact? Cant suggests some simple ways we can help save water and, ultimately, wildlife:
Turn off the tap. Only turn the tap on for brief periods while brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. Not letting the tap run can save up to 20 litres of water a minute, which translates into savings of hundreds of litres a year.
Another tap-related tip? Wash produce over a container and use the water for your household plants.
Lose the leaks. Repair any leaky faucets right away. A tap leaking one drop of water a second can waste more than 25 litres a day. Over a year, that means losing the equivalent of about 70 baths.
Bathroom blues. Did you know about 65 per cent of all indoor water use occurs in the bathroom? To make a difference here, take short showers instead of baths. Try flushing the toilet less often, too.
If you can, replace old fixtures with new water-efficient ones. A low-flow showerhead, for instance, can cut water flow in half, while a low-flow or dual-flush toilet can save the average family more than 25,000 litres of water a year.
Goodbye, green grass! When adhering to local watering restrictions, be careful not to overwater during your allotted timeslot and water only at night. Half of the water used on lawns is lost to evaporation or runoff due to overwatering. And remember: a brown lawn is actually just dormant, not dead!
Car troubles. Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car. The average garden hose uses up to 20 litres of water a minute, so rinse with a spring-loaded nozzle instead. Better still, go to a car wash that filters and recycles water, rather than having it just drain away.
“Getting in the habit of using less water now means we will be better prepared for future water shortages,” says Cant. For every glass of water we save, we have to take and treat one less glass from the environment – leaving more for wildlife, too.
Photo credits: frog - Tyson Harrison; heron - Jeff Ilutowicz
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.