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Water Conservation

Barrie is fortunate to have a large supply of high-quality water available in underground aquifers within the city, but this water supply has a limited capacity to meet demands of a very rapidly growing population. The following tips will help you save money while contributing to the preservation of Barrie's water supply.

Lawn & Garden Maintenance

In the summer, water use in Barrie increases by as much as 40%. Most of this increase is from outdoor water uses, especially lawn watering, and much of this water is wasted. The following tips will help you maintain a green lawn with relatively low effort and only moderate watering.

Wise Maintenance Practices for your Lawn & Garden
Watering
  • A healthy lawn requires only about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water per week,  including rainfall, to remain healthy.
  • Too much watering or fertilizer can lead to shallow roots and a lawn unable to cope with droughts.
  • Outdoor Water Use Restrictions are set out in our regulatory By-laws; please review to ensure compliance.
  • The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning before the temperature gets too high.
  • Rain barrels are a great outdoor water saving device. They save you money by collecting the free rainwater that falls from the sky. The collected water is useful for watering flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Rain barrels and water-efficient gardening can also help reduce inflow and infiltration. Guide to Rain Barrel Use
Fertilizing
  • Keeping a lawn healthy is a key component to allowing it to withstand hot dry spells in the summer. Too much fertilizer can cause your lawn to grow too fast and require more water and maintenance.
  • Use natural fertilizers that contain insoluble nitrogen, which is not affected by rainfall. These fertilizers are safer to use and not as likely to burn your lawn. 
  • Your lawn should be fertilized twice a year, in fall and spring. Fertilizing in fall keeps your lawn healthy through its dormant winter period by building up its root system. The second application in spring stimulates blade growth.         
Cutting & Aerating
  • When you cut your grass ensure it is dry and leave it at least 6 cm (2 inches) long. The longer grass will protect the roots from the sun and will reduce moisture evaporation from the soil.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Clippings provide valuable nutrients to the lawn and aid in moisture retention, thus reducing the need for watering.
  • Aerating cuts small holes in the ground to allow air, water and fertilizer to reach the roots. The small cores that are left-over after aerating should be left on the lawn. The micro-organisms in the cores help decay dead grass and allow your lawn to absorb more moisture.
Plant Selection

Muskoka Gardens is the term the City uses to promote the use of native and low-water use plants that thrive in our climate. Visit our Boulevard Gardens page to learn more and check out our suggested plant list.

Rain gardens are a beautiful way to use excess rainwater that would otherwise cause flooding, and are very easy to maintain.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a beautiful, way to use excess rainwater that would otherwise cause flooding, are very easy to maintain, and help reduce inflow and infiltration. Strategically placed, these gardens intercept and collect water that runs off roofs, driveways and yards and allow it to infiltrate the soil rather than to run off into storm sewers.

Water Efficiency in your Home

A water audit helps you track water usage by particular appliances and can also help identify leaks. Use the Water Audit Worksheet to keep track of your water consumption for at least a week under typical conditions (not with company, or people away). After completing your water audit consider areas where you use the most water, then use the tips provided below to improve your water efficiency and start saving money!

Tips for Improving your Household Water-Efficiency
Check for Leaks!

The homeowner is responsible for all plumbing repairs and maintenance. The City is not responsible for internal plumbing leaks.

To check for leaks, locate the “trickle indicator’ – a small red or black triangle on your water meter. Ensure water is not running in the house or building, and then check to see if the trickle indicator is turning, moving or shaking. If it is, water is flowing through the meter indication a leak somewhere.

To check if your toilet seeps, lift the lid off of the water tank, drop in some food colouring or brewed tea or coffee and come back in 20 minutes. (Don't flush the toilet while you are waiting). If colour appears in the toilet bowl, the rod-and-ball assembly or flapper needs adjustment or replacement. The homeowner is responsible for all plumbing repairs and maintenance and the City is not responsible for internal plumbing leaks.

Leaks can end up causing extremely high bills. If you are aware of any type of water leak in your house you should repair it immediately because it could save you money.

Bathroom

Water conservation is most important in the bathroom. Up to 35% of water used in the house could be through the toilet, depending on its size, and another 25% through the shower. Quick tips to help save water in the bathroom:

  • Replace standard shower heads with low flow shower heads: Low flow shower heads can save half the water you use versus a standard shower head.
  • Replace standard toilets with low flow toilets: Low flow toilets can save up to 50% of the water used depending on the age of the existing toilet.
  • Front load washing machines can use 25% less water versus a standard top loading machine.
  • Try to take 5-minute showers
  • Turn taps off while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Turn showers off when shampooing (many showerheads now have this feature so temperature controls don’t need to be touched).
  • Check regularly for leaks and fix leaking taps right away. A leaking tap can waste up to 50 litres of water a day, a leaky toilet could waste as much as 20m3 per day (approximately $63.00 per day).
  • Check toilets for leaking flappers. To check if your toilet is leaking, place a few drops of food colouring in your tank. If after 15–30 minutes any of the food colouring seeps into the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. If you do not wish to go to the expense of replacing your toilets, there are various devices such as early closing flappers and fill valves that can reduce water use for a small cost.
  • Replace malfunctioning or leaking parts immediately: Only use dishwashers when the load is full 
Kitchen

Quick tips to help save water in the kitchen:

  • Wait until you have a full load before you use your automatic dishwasher.
  • Don’t wash dishes by hand with running water.
  • If possible, use one sink for washing and the other for rinsing. If you have only one sink, rinse the washed dishes with a sprayer or a pot of water.
  • Keep a jug of drinking water in your refrigerator to avoid running water until it is cold enough to drink.
  • Check regularly for leaks and fix leaking taps right away. A leaking tap can waste up to 50 litres of water a day.
Laundry Room

Quick tips to help save water in the laundry room:

  • Consider purchasing a front-loading washing machine. Washing machines can make up to 20% of water use in a typical home. Front-loading machines use 40% less water than traditional top-loading machines. Additionally, they use less electricity, less soap; they can hold more clothes and clothes come out dryer thus reducing drying time.
  • Only use washers when the load is full
  • If you have the “suds saver” feature on your washer remember to use it. This feature reuses clean rinse-water when you wash two or more loads!
Water Softeners

In Barrie, hard water is a fact of life. Water softeners operate by substituting sodium or potassium (salt) for calcium, magnesium or iron minerals that can cause hard water. Water softeners can waste large amounts of water and have other negative impacts. Consider purchasing a water softener with a hardness sensor control. The sensor control monitors the hardness of the water and activates the softening system only when needed. These units save money in the long run by reducing the amount of salt and water used by the system.

Water Conservation Programs

Toilet Rebate Program
The City offers a $50 rebate to residents who replace high-flow fixtures (greater than 6 litres per flush) with low flow fixtures (6 litres or less). The rebate program began October 17, 2005, and is available to Barrie residents who own homes built before 1996. Please read complete Toilet Rebate Program Guidelines.

Sanitary Sewer Inflow Reduction Rebate (SSIRR) Program
Each year, thousands of litres of clean water enter the City's Wastewater Treatment Facility and it's costing residents money! A large amount of this water is from illegal sump pump and downspout connections. The SSIRR program provides rebates to qualifying Barrie residents for disconnecting illegal downspout and sump pump/foundation drain connections to the sanitary sewer system Learn more.


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