5 ways to reduce water use

How to cut down on water and save your septic

By Steve StocktonSteve Stockton


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1. Fix the leaky cottage throne

A toilet tank leaking into the bowl adds a lot of water to the septic system. To test for leaks put a few drops of food colouring into the tank. If the colouring appears in the bowl without being flushed, you have a leak.

2. Flush less

A toilet dam or displacement device in the tank reduces the amount of water being flushed. The toilet dam is a simple tool that holds back water from the flapper valve. Displacement devices can be DIY—set a full plastic water bottle in the tank (don’t use a brick; it can disintegrate, ruining the valves).

3. Install a low- or dual-flush toilet

A low-flush toilet use six litres per flush, compared with the 18 to 24 litres typical of old-style models. Dual-flush toilets give you an option of three-litre or six-litre flushes with two buttons (the manufacturers leave it up to you to label them number one and number two). For more information, read our article on green toilets.

4. Install a low-flow showerhead

…especially if long-showering teenagers hang out at your cottage. A low-flow aerator can cut the water flow by 50 per cent without lessening the spray.

5. Practice catch-and-release-elsewhere at the sink

When rinsing fruits and veggies, put a basin below the faucet and recycle the captured water for thirsty plants or sluicing off the deck chairs. Brushing your teeth for two minutes with the tap running loses about 11 litres of water down the drain; a mug of water for brushing and rinsing does the job with much less waste.

This article was originally published on April 12, 2007

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