How often is your toilet flushed ... and other important questions

Some Charlottetown residents are getting a water use makeover from the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, but the program is about more than conserving water.

Grant from Environment Canada funding research project

The water use makeover program will help determine how much water people are saving overall. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Some Charlottetown residents are getting a water use makeover from the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, but the program is about more than conserving water.

For the homeowners and businesses in the program, the group is making it as simple as it can to save water. It starts with a free audit, and everything needed to fix identified issues is ready to go immediately.

"We have all the supplies with us, so it's a dramatic makeover just like people see on the daytime talk shows," said watershed co-ordinator Sarah Wheatley.

The program aims to make change as easy as possible, says Sarah Wheatley, co-ordinator of the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"If we said they would benefit from two new toilets and rain barrel and three faucet aerators we'd have all those items with us right there. There wouldn't be the hurdle of researching about toilets or getting a truck and going to the store to get them."

The items are available at a subsidized price, with further discounts available for low-income households.

Answering important questions

The three-year project is funded by $62,555 from the Environment Canada's Eco-Action program, with additional funding from the P.E.I. Watershed Management Fund. The group aims to audit about 60 homes and businesses, and is a little over halfway to that goal.

That won't have a huge impact on water use across the city of Charlottetown, but the program is also about getting some firm answers to the question of how much water people can save by installing low-flow devices.

The water audit program can provide the items people need on the spot at a subsidized price. (Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association)

It's easy to determine how much water a toilet can save per flush, but more difficult to know how many times a day a toilet is flushed.

"We have had some comments from some people saying certain water conservation programs were a huge success but there was no way to measure it," Wheatley said.

"That's why we're looking into it, so we can say if you replace a toilet, on average, it will save this many litres of water per year, or if you replace a showerhead it will have this much impact."

The audit includes a survey where people estimate their water usage, and also a followup a year after the items are installed, to see how much water people have saved.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.