Water Conservation

Every day, the average Quebecois uses 628 litres of water. This makes us one of the highest per-person users of water in the world, since the average Canadian uses 483 Litres/person/day and Canada is the fourth highest user of water per person per year. We are able to use so much water every day, particularly in Montreal, due to the natural abundance of freshwater from rain, snow, lakes, and rivers, and the high-quality and high-volume sanitation services that our cities and municipalities provide.

While we have been lucky to have so much fresh water available in Quebec, others across the world are not as lucky. Only 2.5% of the water in the world is fresh, and ⅔ of this freshwater is unavailable since it is locked up in glaciers and in inaccessible locations. The remaining third is what supports the entire world’s population. Unfortunately, this water isn’t distributed evenly and is increasingly polluted; the UN estimates that 2.1 billion people lack access to safe and reliable water.

In Quebec, just like everywhere in the world, climate change is making this stressed resource even less reliable. Increasing temperatures are predicted to make droughts more common and intense, which threatens agriculture, ecosystems, and our ability to use water for other basic day-to-day needs. At the same time, storms are likely to become more intense, which will increase flooding especially in the springtime and low-lying areas. To meet global targets, like the UN’s sustainable development goal #6 (clean water and sanitation), we need to adapt our water use to make it efficient, cleaner, and reliable, in a large part by reducing our use to avoid stressing the water infrastructure system.

Respect local by law:

As of July 2013, bylaw 13-023 Concerning the Use of Drinking Water is in effect for the City of Montreal. Important aspects of the law are:

Watering with a portable lawn sprinkler or soaker hose:

  • Lawns can only be watered from 8pm-11pm if it doesn’t rain

Watering with an automatic Sprinkler system:

  • Must have a rain sensor
  • Must only run between 3am and 6am
  • You can only water on even-numbered days if your address is even, and on odd-numbered days if your address is an odd number.

Watering by hand:

  • Allowable at any time except when it rains.

For use of hoses and equipment connected to the water supply system:

  • Pools cannot be filled between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., except between April 1 and May 15.
  • Washing paved surfaces, patios, and outside walls is strictly prohibited, except during construction or landscaping work or as a health measure. It is allowed between April 1 and May 15.
  • It is prohibited to let water trickle onto the road or onto neighboring properties.
  • Decorative ponds with waterfalls, water fountains or water jets must have a water recycling system
  • Air cooling and refrigeration units operating on water and with no water recycling system are prohibited. Existing units may be used until 2018 (certain cases may be used until 2023 per amendment 13-023-1)
  • Cars may be washed anytime provided that a wash bucket or hose with a manual shut-off mechanism is used.

Violations of this bylaw may lead to costly fines. To learn more about this bylaw and other bylaws for commercial, institutional and industrial establishments, you can call 311 or consult Montreal’s website.