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WEEK 9 : Water, Water, Everywhere

We in Toronto have had a very easy way with the cost of water but that is coming to an end. We just had a water meter installed in our current home after 25 years of unlimited water at a low fixed rate. When I asked the installer what he thought was going to happen to the charges for water, he replied wryly, “how do you think we are going to pay for these meters?”. Also our aging, and leaking infrastructure is going to require expensive upgrades. Toronto, like many cities, is about to see major water and sewer rate increases.

Canadians use almost the most residential water per capita in the world at 343 litres per day, second to our US neighbours. By comparison, the eco-loving Swedes only use 200 litres. Perhaps because we have so much water and it is relatively cheap we have got used to wasting it. Most studies say that toilets are the single biggest part, using between 25 and 30% of all the water in the house.

At Kew Beachouse, all the fixtures and appliances will be water efficient and low flow rated, but rather than just use low flush toilets we are going further to eliminate using city water for toilets completely.

All rain water from the roofs will be directed into a large 5000 litre tank under the front porch. This volume represents less than 2” of rainfall on the roof and Toronto gets about 35 “ per year. It will have a City top up just in case. Water from the tank will be pumped to the bathrooms using dedicated piping just for toilets. (It will be purple, just so no one is confused when hooking it up.) It will also be used for watering the gardens, including the green roof over the garage.

Our supplier, Waterloo Biofilter, is providing the tank, controls and pump for a cost that will certainly repay itself in a short time. It should also protect the owners from at least part of those inevitable water rate increases.

When we drilled the piles for Kew Beachouse, we were aware that the water table is only about 1 ½ feet below the foundation. When we pumped it out it refilled in about 12 hours. This is a large perpetual source of water that can be used to augment the garden irrigation requirements if we get a dry summer with little rainfall.

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