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Water Use Makeover Program

This project was launched by the Winter River – Tracadie Bay Watershed Association in an effort to provide the education and materials necessary for participants to make a lasting reduction in their water use, and thus reduction in water extracted from the Winter River watershed. This project also had a research component, to see what types of water use appliances were in use, and the level of household water savings that would be realistic in our community. With more groundwater remaining for ecosystem health, all living things in the watershed benefit from these efforts

Why does water conservation matter to Winter River?

The City of Charlottetown uses the Winter River watershed as its primary source of municipal water. Sourcing water from a single watershed for an entire city for the last 80 years is environmentally unsustainable and has had detrimental effects on the ecosystem within Winter River. *Note: Since this project was initiated there is now a second watershed that is supplying a portion of the water needs of the city.

Who Participated?

The program was open to ~ 50 households and ~ 10 local businesses in the City of Charlottetown that had a water meter installed. The project was limited to those with a water meter so that we could compare water use before and after the “makeover”.

Participants completed a short online survey to determine their eligibility for the program. Then interested, eligible participants met with our staff to complete a questionnaire outlining their current water use patterns, have our staff assess current water using devices within the home (ex. number of litres used per flush by your toilet) and receive suggestions for improvement. Staff delivered all suggested items to participants’ homes and provided tips to help with the installation.

Project Costs

We had funding that paid most of the costs of items suggested in this program. We established a small fee for each item to cover the remainder of the cost. Below were the suggested participation fees for each item:

Toilets ($50.00)
Rain barrels ($25.00)
Showerheads ($5.00)
Shower timer – digital ($5.00)
Shower timer – sand ($2.00)
Trees/shrubs ($2.00)
Faucet aerators ($1.00)
Water Jug ($1.00)

Those who could not afford these amounts were offered fee reductions for low-income families. We also had individuals who contributed larger amounts, to enable us to help more people.

Project Inspiration

Impacts of water extraction:

  • Dry springs: 25 large groundwater springs in the Brackley area dry up for up to six months of the year

  • Dry streams: A loss of 3.7 km of Brook Trout spawning habitat in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 by WRTBWA, plus anecdotal reports from residents in other years.

  • Lower water levels: Once the springs go dry, the stream level drops until it eventually goes dry too. This leaves native Brook Trout and other aquatic species trapped in isolated pools where they ultimately perish due to predators or low oxygen levels, unless someone helps them with a “fish rescue”.

  • Warm water: This large reduction of water decreases the base flow of the entire river system. This decrease in water depth and velocity, leads to an increase of the water temperature downstream during the hot summer months.

  • Limitation on local water use: Strict irrigation limits for local farms, while business owners in Charlottetown can easily take more water — essentially prioritizing urban business owners over rural agribusinesses.

The use of rain barrels will also improve stormwater management within the City of Charlottetown, by reducing the high flow of water through streams and storm drains, saving it for a sunny day instead.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of the Environment

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