Barrie Water Conservation Program

Due to a rapid increase in population growth, Barrie, Ontario was faced with an increasing demand on water supply. An environmental assessment conducted by the Municipal Works Department revealed that a conservation strategy could postpone capital expenditures by 10-25 years – a discovery that led to the creation of a plan to reduce both wastewater flows and water usage through the installation of low flow toilets and showerheads in 15,000 Barrie homes. To offset costs for homeowners, the City developed a list of contractors who agreed to set a price for each installation and provided an additional list of the materials required, giving homeowners the option of installing the devices themselves or using a qualified plumber, then notifying the City once work was completed. Ads in newspapers, permanent displays at home shows and shopping malls, and inserts posted to consumers with their water bills were used to promote the program. Homeowners and landlords interested in learning more about the program were asked to contact the City for more information, and once a request was made, the City would provide interested parties with an information kit to help get them started. The success of the program was assessed based on: (1) the number of households that joined the program, (2) the amount of water consumed before and after the installation of toilets and showerheads, (3) estimated wastewater flow reductions based on water consumption savings, (4) the public’s reaction to the program based on follow-up interviews, and (5) the cost effectiveness of the program measured by net deferral of capital expenditure attributable to the program. Ultimately, the City’s $3.1M program investment translated into a net deferral of $18.7M for 7 years thanks to the participation of 11,500 households reducing water consumption by an average of 62 liters per day, per person.

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