Flushing the Future? Examining Urban Water Use in Canada




Brandes, Oliver M.
Ferguson, Keith

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POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, University of Victoria


The majority of Canadians live in large urban and regional centres, and municipal water use represents a significant portion (12 percent) of overall water withdrawals in Canada. Urban users in Canada use more than twice as much water as their European counterparts, with significant levels of wastage and inefficiency. Such high levels of urban water use have resulted in expensive supply and disposal infrastructure expansions, ecological impacts in developed areas where environmental stresses are already high, and increasing pressure on water treatment facilities to treat all water to drinking quality standards. Demand-side management (DSM) is an alternative (or, more accurately, complementary) approach to increasing supply infrastructure. It involves decreasing the demand for water through a mix of education, technology, pricing reform, regulation and recycling. This report provides insight into water use and supply in Canadian cities and the potential for demand side management.



demand-side management, water conservation, water soft path


Brandes, O.M. & Ferguson, K. (2003, August) Flushing the Future? Examining Urban Water Use in Canada. POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria.