Water Conservation

Why conserve water?

We use on average 30 million litres of water per day in the winter months to 75 million litres of water per day during the summer. This works out to about 400 litres per person per day in the winter and 700 litres in summer.

Over the past decade, Nanaimo's water consumption has declined almost 20%, and remains lower than both provincial and national rates. Council set an ambitious target for further reduction of 10% per decade. Reducing consumption helps the environment and helps delay expensive upgrades to infrastructure.


The City's 2014 Water Conservation Strategy discusses existing efforts to conserve water and future planned initiatives to reduce consumption further. This will help ensure water is available for our needs, as well as for ecosystems that we share this resource with.

Team WaterSmart

We partner with other water suppliers in the region, namely Team WaterSmart, for community-wide education and outreach programs. Team WaterSmart also hosts several well-attended workshops for homeowners during the year to inform the public about water-saving initiatives.

Water Smart Tent

Living Water Smart BC

Our efforts directly support the Provincial Living Water Smart initiative by:

  • Watershed protection measures, in conjunction with the forestry companies that own the watershed
  • Nanaimo's Water Conservation Strategy
  • Measuring water supplied to the City via meters at major points in the supply system
  • Expanded block rate pricing structure
  • Full cost pricing (user rates reflect the true long-term construction and operation costs)
  • Water Supply Strategic Plan recognizes that water is a shared resource for drinking water, others in the region and as a fisheries necessity
  • Weather station maintenance to track rainfall trends in the City and in the watershed, in support of watershed modelling
  • Participation with industry, First Nations, federal government (Ministry of Environment and Department of Fisheries and Oceans), provincial government (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in the Nanaimo River Watershed Management Plan), as well as other initiatives to augment the flow of water during dry periods (e.g. Westwood Lake, Millstone River)

Fish Protection

The City owns and manages significant water infrastructure within the Nanaimo River Watershed, including South Fork Dam and Jump Lake Dam.  The majority of stored water in these reservoirs is for fisheries purposes.  For decades the City has been providing make-up flow for low summer flows in the Nanaimo River, as well as pulse releases during early fall for salmon spawning.  Along with the water released for consumption and domestic use, this additional water creates better spawning and migration conditions for the fish in the river. In accordance with the recommendations in the Nanaimo River Water Management Plan, the City works cooperatively with federal and provincial fisheries departments to manage the additional fisheries flows.

salmon spawning
The south fork of the Nanaimo River is augmented with a fisheries release flow that is critical for fish and other river habitat during summer months low river flows as seen in the water spraying in the foreground at the South Fork dam below.
SF dam & fisheries flow release

Water Audits

In 2012, we completed our first water audit.

Conservation tips

  • Water lawns in the coolest part of the day. Watering the lawn in the early morning is the ideal time because it reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation. If the morning hours are not convenient, try the evening. Keep in mind that plants and grass are more vulnerable to disease and fungus growth if watered in the evening.
  • Use a spring loaded nozzle shut off on your hose. Hoses can waste 20 litres or more water per minute.
  • Don't worry if your grass turns brown during hot spells, grass becomes naturally dormant and will recover with a good rainfall or when the weather becomes cooler.
  • Aerate lawns and rake in compost to improve moisture retention.
  • Apply mulch around flowers, vegetables and trees to reduce evaporation.
  • Pick the right sprinkler for your lawn and garden, and check sprinklers to ensure that they operate properly.
  • Wash your vehicle less often and use a bucket.
  • Take shorter showers. 5 minutes is enough for most people.
  • Replace your shower head and toilet with low flow devices.
  • Make good use of your dishwasher and washing machine by giving them a rest until you have a full load.
  • Check for leaky toilets by putting a little food dye in the toilet tank and wait about 10 minutes to see if the colour appears in the bowl. It is not uncommon to lose up to 500 litres (110 gallons) per day from a toilet leak.
  • Consider the cumulative effect of each 20 litre (4.4 gallon) flush. Toilets can account for 40% of the total household use. Combine that with showers and baths, and the figure can reach 75% of total use.

Last updated: June 20, 2024

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