Scattered clouds 12 °C Scattered clouds


Water is something we take for granted due to its ready availability and low cost. It might be hard to imagine water shortages in Victoria; however, what we don’t often consider is the risk of shrinking surface water sources. Can you imagine having limited access to water, something so critical for everyday life? If we aren’t careful with our water use, water prices could escalade, adding a significant cost to your already steep utility bills.

The Capital Regional District's industrial, commercial and institutional sectors use about 15 billion liters of water per year, which is nearly 30% of all municipal water use in Greater Victoria”.
-CRD Water Services


Top 4 Water Saving Opportunities

1. Install aerators on faucets

Without an aerator, water usually flows out of a faucet as a solid stream. An aerator spreads this stream into little droplets, conserving water and reducing splashing. Aerators usually cost less than $3, can be installed by anyone (no tools required), and use approximately ? of the water.

2. Turn taps off when done

It may seem second-nature, but taps are consistently left on in businesses. Simple behavioral change goes a long way when it comes to water savings. Signs are a great way to remind people to turn off the taps.

3. Install toilet tank banks

Toilet tank banks can reduce toilet water usage by up to 30%. You can make your own by using a 500ml plastic pop bottle filled with sand or small pebbles.

4. Getting rid of once-through cooling equipment

This equipment is the biggest water-waster of all. If you have an older refrigeration system, chances are it uses once-through cooled technology. Replacing it results in a payback of 1.5 years or less and the CRD offers a rebate of up to $5,000 for replacing this equipment.


"In a busy restaurant, a toilet can be flushed 50 times per day, costing $200 per year in water and sewage charges!"
-CRD Water Services

Low-Flow Toilets

Toilets are generally the washroom’s main water consumer. Your existing toilet may be using as much as 20 litres per flush! Replace your toilets with low-flow 6-litre models. The water savings are significant and payback for switching from regular to low-flow toilets is around 5 years.

Toilet Leaks

High volume water leaks often come from toilets and are difficult to detect. A toilet that continues to run after flushing could be wasting 20 – 40 liters per hour. In a year, that could fill an entire swimming pool! To check for a toilet leak, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Place liquid food colouring in the toilet tank.
  2. Wait about 15 minutes without flushing to allow dye diffuse to diffuse in tank water.
  3. After 15 minutes check the water in your toilet bowl. If the water is colored, you've got a toilet leak.

If you have a leak, it is most likely caused from a worn out flapper. New ones are easy to install and cost around $10.

Tank Banks and Diaphragms

Toilet tank banks are great for reducing water consumption, but what about tank-less toilets? If you have a tank-less model, you can install a simple retrofitting device known as a diaphragm that can reduce water use by about 20% per flush. Pick one up at your local hardware store.

Public washrooms and guest bathrooms account for an average of 40% of water used in hotels. -CRD Water Services


Food service businesses have large water bills and big opportunities to save.


  1. Make sure staff run a full dishwasher
  2. For dishes with tough to remove grime, provide staff with effective scrubbers (reduces use of spray wand)
  3. Don’t let taps run continuously when rinsing vegetables or soaking dishes – a foot trigger can help reduce consumption

Old dishwashers use 30 to 53 litres of water per wash. Newer models use 15 to 38 litres. When it is time to upgrade your machine, be sure to check into the Power Smart Product Incentive Rebates, which range from $3,900-$11,000 for Energy Stay rated models. You will also save on your energy bills due to reduced hot water use.

Pre-Rinse Spray Valves

A typical food service kitchen can spend hundreds of dollars a year to pre-rinse soiled dishes. You can reduce this cost by replacing older pre-rinse spray valves with modern low-flow units. Synergy is working with the CRD to distribute free low-flow pre-rinse spray valves to food service establishments within Victoria. Typically, low-flow spray valves cost about $80 each.

For a low-flow spray valve used one hour per day, the annual water and energy savings add up to more than $100. –CRD Water Services

Ice Machines

When choosing or upgrading an ice machine, choose air-cooled ice machines that replace water cooled units. Water cooled ice machines use twice as much water as it takes to make the ice; therefore, air cooled models use half as much water. If your machine is not ready for replacement, reducing the flow rate can be a quick way to save water.

Coolers and Refrigerators

Built when water was cheap, once-through coolers and refrigerators use a single pass of water, which is then discarded into the sewer. This is wasteful and results in costly water bills (consumption and sewer rates apply). Be wary if you have an older model, it could contravene the sewer use bylaw if it uses more than 2000 litres per day. If your machine is not ready for replacement, it is possible to retrofit the unit to re-circulate the cooling water. When it is time for a new model, be sure to consider an air-cooled unit.

Once-Through Cooling Systems

Once-through cooling systems, also known as single-pass cooling systems, are expensive and wasteful. These systems remove heat by transferring it to a supply of clean, cold municipal drinking water and discharging it directly to the sewer. This literally sends thousands of dollars per year worth of clean water down the drain! There are aggressive incentives from the CRD that encourage the replacement of this equipment.

Several establishments within downtown Victoria have already taken advantage of the CRD’s Once-Through-Cooling rebate program. Some of these include Swans, the Strathcona, and the Family Eyecare Centre.

Laundry Room

If you do on-site laundry there are several ways in which you can reduce water consumption:

  • Strive to run only full loads
  • Adjust the water level to match your load
  • Check your washing machine to see if it has a suds saving feature, which recycles the rinse water from the previous load of laundry
  • If you are about to purchase a new machine, look for front-loading models that are ENERGY STAR rated

If laundry is sent to a commercial facility, make sure to choose a service that has environmental practices. For example, Premiere Linens and Wet Cleaners use some of the most efficient equipment on the market and wash with biodegradable, naturally derived products.

Victoria’s water is soft, so use half or less of the detergent recommended by the manufacturer.

Drinking Water

Residents of Victoria enjoy some of the best drinking water in the world. Our reservoir is fed by a pristine and protected watershed, which means our water supply is naturally clean and requires little treatment. The CRD Water Services run thousands of tests each month on the water in the Greater Victoria Drinking Water System to ensure that it is safe for consumption.

A filtered water system is optional. Water filters may improve the taste, smell or appearance of your drinking water, but they do not necessarily make the water any safer or healthier. Filters also may steer people away from purchasing bottled water and encourage staff, guests and tenants to bring their own bottles. This simple initiative made a big difference at the University of Victoria.

Buying bottled water is both costly and wasteful. Try to avoid purchasing and supplying bottled water. Also bottled water is up to 1,000 times more costly than Greater Victoria’s drinking water.

Ask patrons if they want a glass of water rather than serving one automatically.


We have control of what goes down our drains. Harsh cleaning chemicals, detergents, fats and oils, medications and other harmful substances have adverse affects on the marine environment and can affect public health as well as personnel working with the sewer system. Follow these simple steps and start becoming responsible for what goes down your drain:

  • Try to eliminate the use of classic chemical agents like Comet (sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite) and Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
  • Opt for natural, non-toxic cleaning products
  • Look for hydrogen peroxide based bleach, which is safer for the environment
  • Use half the amount of the manufacturer’s recommended detergent volume (due to the softness of Victoria’s water)
  • Cool small quantities of fats, oils and grease (in the fridge or freezer) and discard in the garbage. (Since 2003, properly sized grease traps have been mandatory in all commercial kitchens in the CRD).

Reducing wastewater relieves pressure on freshwater systems. The Sooke Harbour House collects water from showers, sinks and toilets and pumps it through a membrane-bioreactor. The treated potable water is then reused in toilets and urinals. They also recycle water for use in large gardens and lawns. In 2004, they reclaimed 7,307, 207 litres!

John’s Place took advantage of the CRD’s Water Audit program and spent $15,000 replacing their cooling equipment. The estimated annual savings is $10,000 and approximately 5000m3 of water (1.5 year payback).

A free water use audit was conducted at John’s Place Restaurant in February of 2006 by the CRD. The restaurant had three 20 L toilets, five water cooled condensers, and one water-cooled ice maker. The audit recommendations included: replace the once-through water-cooled equipment with air cooled equipment, retrofit the washrooms with low flow or high efficiency toilets, and create a sustainability awareness program for staff.

John’s Place also took advantage of the CRD’s Cooling Equipment Rebate program. All of the water-cooled equipment was replaced with air-cooled models resulting in roughly a 50% decrease in water, which in turn saves about $10,000 per year based on current water rates. (star icon) Monk Office also utilized the CRD’s Water Audit program. They installed water-efficient bathroom fixtures and ensured that all were functioning to proper levels. They also consistently measure and monitor their water consumption. Based on their initial water audit from the Capital Regional District (CRD), they effectively reduced water consumption by 95%.

Learn More

Grants and Rebates

Business Listings

Helping you connect with a downtown business is a big part of what we do at the DVBA.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up now to keep up to date with what's happening downtown!