By Andrea Arnold

With the ongoing water concerns for not only the Village of McBride and some of the surrounding community that relies on runoff, springs or even wells for their water, people may be wondering what they can do to decrease their water usage. In the warmer months, ways to cut back water use are more obvious. Lawn watering, car washing, even watering gardens can be modified to help conserve water. But now that the seasons have changed, and the village is asking residents to continue water conservation, some people may be wondering how.

There are many cheap and easy ways you can conserve water all year round. Many of these have been pulled from online sources.

First, the bathroom can be a location where water usage can be excessive without being noticed.

  • Collect water in a bucket for flushing the toilet. Water can be collected from the bath/shower. Showers take longer to heat up in the winter so take advantage of the first few minutes of cold water.
  • If your pipes do burst, know where your shut off valve is to prevent excessive damage and decrease water use.
  • Do not use your hose to melt snowbanks. This is an unnecessary waste of water.
  • When washing, brushing your teeth or shaving, never let the tap run continuously.
  • To reduce toilet water, take a plastic bottle, put a few pebbles or rocks in it, fill it with water, and then place it in the back of your toilet, you can save up to 10 gallons of water per day. (If your toilet has a 1.6 gallon stamp on it, this method is not advised)
  • Take shorter showers. 
  • To check for a toilet leak, place a few drops of food coloring or dye test tablets (available at home improvement stores) in the toilet tank. Do not flush; wait 10-15 minutes. If the bowl water changes colour, you have a leak.
  • Adjust the toilet tank float.

There are several ways that you can conserve water in the kitchen as well. 

  • Take foods out of the freezer early to allow plenty of time to thaw rather than running water over it.
  • Keep water in the fridge so you don’t have to run the tap to get cold water.
  • Completely fill the dishwasher before you turn it on. It can use 35-45 litres per cycle.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing.
  • Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water.
  • Keep cooking fats, oils and grease out of the drain. They can stick to and block the inside of pipes, which can lead to sewer back-ups and basement flooding.

Lastly, there are even ways you can conserve water in the laundry room as well 

  • Try to only do laundry when the machine is full.
  • If you need to wash smaller loads, be sure to adjust your washer’s water level settings accordingly.

There are some other solutions to common ways that homes waste water that will cost more initially, but help save water in the long run.

  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets. Even the smallest drip from a worn washer can waste 75 or more litres a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds.
  • Call in a plumber after the first thaw to check your pipes for damage and leaks.
  • Wrap all exposed pipes and insulate hot water pipes to help protect them against bursting
  • Install water efficient toilets and fixtures.
  • Purchase a high efficiency washing machine.

One specific concern for many people in the Robson Valley is that of frozen water lines. With the current water usage restrictions in place, Mayor Runtz is aware of this concern.

“If you need to leave a tap dripping for the safety of your property, then please do,” said Mayor Runtz. “Many people need to do this in order to keep pipes from freezing, and I want them to know that they can still do that.”

A frozen broken pipe will gush and lose way more water than a dripping tap. But it is important to note that the taps only need to drip to prevent freezing, not run. This minimizes the water loss.

The online daily water use chart on the Village of McBride website shows that the community has significantly cut back the daily water usage. In the past 30 days, the community has not only used less water than the target amount, but also, for all but one day in that same stretch, registering a usage amount lower than the same time period as last year.