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2011 Municipal Water Use Report – Municipal Water Use 2009 Statistics

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Survey highlights

Both total and residential water use per capita have decreased since 2006

Both total2 and residential water use per capita showed a more significant drop over 2006 to 2009 than between previous survey cycles. The 2009 average residential water use per person was 274 litres per capita per day (Lcd), a 53 Lcd drop from 2006. Total water use per person dropped by 79 Lcd, from 591 Lcd in 2006 to 510 Lcd in 2009.

 

Chart 2: Average Daily Water Use (Litres per Capita per Day), 1999 to 2009

* Data on total water use per capita is not available for 1999.

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These results suggest a possible trend towards more sustainable use of water resources in the municipal sector. Canadians have consistently ranked among the world’s highest users of water, with per capita water use well above that of European and many other industrialized nations.3 High water use can contribute to a wide variety of environmental and economic problems, including water shortages; the drawdown of aquifers in areas served by groundwater; increased temperature and concentration of pollutants in water bodies; costly expansion of water and wastewater infrastructure; and increased energy consumption for pumping and treating water and wastewater.

The encouraging results from 2009 must nevertheless be understood within the context of climatic factors that may have affected municipal water use in that year. For Canada overall, temperature was below the 1971–2000 normal--and below 2006 temperatures--from May through July 2009, and was only very slightly above normal in August. Meanwhile, rainfall was higher than both the 2006 level and the 1971–2000 normal in July and August 2009. The lower temperatures in June and July and higher rainfall in July and August could have contributed to the lower per capita water use in 2009 compared to 2006, particularly in the residential sector where lawn watering constitutes an important end-use of water in the summer months.

Total and residential per capita water use dropped in all municipal size groups and provinces/territories except for Saskatchewan and New Brunswick (Prince Edward Island also showed a very slight increase of 2 Lcd in total water use). The greatest drop in total water use per capita was seen in communities of less than 50 000 people, while it was in communities of 2 000 to 50 000 people that residential water use decreased most significantly. In spite of this, the results show that larger communities continue to have relatively lower per capita water use. Total per capita water use was 497 Lcd (251 Lcd residential) in municipalities with a population of 500 000 or more and 756 (426 Lcd residential) in municipalities with less than 1 000 people.

Per capita water use also varies across the provinces and territories. Of the provinces, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario have the lowest total water use per capita, while Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta have the lowest residential water use per capita.

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MWWS results and responding population

The MWWS is a voluntary survey and, therefore, response rates vary slightly from cycle to cycle. These changes can have an impact on the survey results. However, as the response rate is close to 100% for large communities (50 000 people or more) and most of the statistics are weighted by population, the impact of the changes in responding population on results at the national level is slight.

While the exact causes of the drop in total and residential water use per capita between the 2006 and 2009 survey cycles would require further study to determine, it is certain that it is not simply the results of different response rates in the two survey years.

For total water use per capita, approximately 75% of the 2009 data set (by population) was composed of municipalities that responded in both 2006 and 2009. For residential water use per capita, 62% of the data set (by population) was composed of municipalities that responded in both 2006 and 2009. A significant drop in  total and residential water use per capita is observed even when looking only at municipalities that responded in both 2006 and 2009.

 

Table 2: Total and Residential Per Capita Water Use,
by Province/Territory and Municipal Population

  Total water use Residential water use
Number of responding municipalities Responding population Total water use per capita (litres/capita/
day)
Number of responding municipalities Responding population Residential* water use per capita (litres/capita/
day)
Newfoundland and Labrador 24 278 549 804 22 189 235 395
Prince Edward Island 4 52 582 505 4 52 582 189
Nova Scotia 18 436 981 512 17 436 120 292
New Brunswick 30 267 352 821 27 263 986 394
Quebec 272 5 465 132 706 225 4 393 874 386
Ontario 165 10 470 997 409 159 10 401 245 225
Manitoba 54 847 025 355 49 842 461 199
Saskatchewan 80 609 177 518 75 607 131 238
Alberta 124 2 837 712 395 115 2 756 461 209
British Columbia 87 2 766 835 606 86 2 764 564 353
Territories 6 39 448 599 6 39 448 391
 
Municipal Population            
Under 1000 154 74 099 756 136 65 249 426
1001–2000 142 159 338 528 120 135 276 371
2001–5000 172 446 134 712 157 410 304 385
5001–50 000 322 3 586 411 570 302 3 384 172 313
50 001–500 000 64 8 747 123 489 60 7 816 692 280
More than
500 000
10 11 058 686 497 10 10 935 416 251
Total, 2009 864 24 071 791 510 785 22 747 109 274
Total, 2006 1 082 25 183 363 591** 1 043 25 074 414 327**

Source: 2009 MWWS. Aggregated to municipal level and imputed for non-response using 2006 MWWS. Sustainable Water Management Division, Environment Canada.

* Includes single-family and multi-family.

 


2. Total water use per capita is the total volume of water delivered to the water distribution system, divided by the residential population served water. Total water use includes all end-uses of municipal-supplied water (residential, commercial, industries and agricultural operations that obtain their water from a municipal water supply) and water losses.

3. OECD Factbook, 2008.

 

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