Katrina has always been a water lover. When she was small, her favourite place to take a nap was in the bottom of her parents' blue canoe while they paddled around lakes in the Whiteshell, or the creek behind their house. Swimming was a necessity, even when her parents had to invest in a wetsuit to keep her from going blue after swimming lessons. While completing her Ecology degree at U of M, her courses included Limnology, Aquatic Botany and Aquatic Entomology, and these interests led her to work as a research assistant at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and a continuing interest in how water quality affects lake ecosystems. Katrina's job includes monitoring oxygen and phosphorus levels in FortWhyte's lakes each month, including through the ice in the winter! She also coordinates the Slow the Flow program for schools, including the Leak Detector Challenge school water audit in October and March. Katrina's favourite water-saving recommendation? She keeps her hair short, uses natural soaps and shampoos, and uses an efficient shower head. Here are a few more:
Top 10 Tips to Conserve and Protect Water
Check for leaks often!
Even the most efficient toilet can develop a silent leak. The best way to detect a water leak is to find your water meter, take a reading at night, don’t use any water that night, and then check the reading again in the morning.
Replace old taps and showerheads.
If you have older taps and showerheads, there’s likely a lot of unnecessary water going down the drain. Free water-conservation kits are available to all Manitoba Hydro customers. Your shower head should use less than 7.6L/minute, and faucets less than 5.7L/minute.
Invest in water-conserving appliances and toilets.
Energy Star and WaterSense models provide the most efficient use of water and will save you money on water and energy bills.
Time your showers.
Showers are fast catching up as the biggest water user in the house next to toilet flushing. Teenagers are especially good at taking long showers, so you might find a reward system that works, or just turn off the water!
Choose greener cleaning products.
City wastewater treatment systems cannot remove many modern chemicals from the water before it is discharged back into natural ecosystems. Choose soaps and detergents that are natural and biodegradable. Avoid microbeads, which are tiny pieces of plastic put into exfoliating scrubs -- they are not removed from wastewater, and result in aquatic organisms with guts full of plastic.
Restore your riparian.
If you have a cottage or riverbank property, protect the ecosystem along the water's edge. Plants such as willow and cattail, as well as trees such as cottonwoods, act to hold the soil together. Avoid having lawn grass along shorelines as it provides no erosion protection.
Choose a car wash with a good environmental mandate.
Washing your car in your driveway is not a good choice, as polluted water travels to our rivers through stormwater drains. When washing your car at a car wash, ask to see their environmental policies.
When watering your yard and garden, choose to use a rainbarrel and water on calm evenings or in the morning to avoid loss to evaporation.
Drink tap water.
Bottled water is often just filtered tap water… and costs aren’t just to your wallet. The environmental costs of one just bottle of water are great -- the manufacturing and transportion of one bottle of water requires on average three additional bottles of water plus ¼ bottle of crude oil, making it up to 2000 times more energy intensive than tap water.
Watch out for aquatic invasive species.
Waterways are connected, which makes it easy for unwanted invaders to travel to new areas. Clean, drain and dry so you don’t bring hitchhikers such as zebra mussels on your watercraft. Keep an eye out for invaders such as purple loosestrife and report them to Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.
Enjoy watersports responsibly.
When visiting a lake or other water area, remember that water and the shoreline are sensitive to pollution and disturbance. Use a clean, well maintained motor on your boat, and slow down to avoid leaving shoreline damage with your wake. Better yet, choose to travel in a non-motorized watercraft such as a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard or sailboat.
October is Sustainability Month! This month, we’ll be providing tips on how you can incorporate sustainability into your everyday activities. And by sharing what you, your friends, and community are doing to get sustainable this October, you could win some great prizes from our friends at Sustainable Manitoba. Tag your Instagram photos and tweets with the hashtag #GetSustainable to enter. Together, we can create a more sustainable Manitoba! Find out more at sustainabilitymonth.ca.