Pathway 2 in Profile: Water as a Precious Resource

There’s no doubt about the importance of water.  It’s probably the most important resource on the planet.  Without it, none of us would survive, let alone thrive.  The precious and finite nature of this resource is the reason it is such a key part of the Cochrane Sustainability Plan, and is why it serves as the foundation for Pathway 2:

DropletWe treat water as a precious resource

The Cochrane Sustainability Plan sets out an important target for water resources in our community: By 2029, per capita water use in Cochrane has decreased by 15% from 2008 levels. That means reducing our 2008 levels of 150 litres per person per day to 127.5 litres per person per day.

Today, there are many programs in place all across the community to help protect and preserve our water supply.

Fix Those Leaks!

A leaky toilet tank is a notorious water waster – but fortunately it’s usually a quick fix.

To determine if you have a problem, put food coloring into your toilet bowl tank. If, without flush­ing, the toilet bowl becomes the color of the dye within 30 minutes, you have a leak that needs to be fixed. This can usually be done by simply tightening the screws in your tank and/or replacing/adjusting the flapper that holds water in the tank.

You might be surprised at the impact a leaky toilet can have:

  • Average water wasted by a household of 4 over 1 year: 269,492 litres (757 litres per day)
  • Cochrane as a whole community, 1 year effect: 987,216,569 litres (2,773,648 litres per day)

You can learn how to fix your leak here.

Xeriscaping in Cochrane

Try Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping sounds complicated but it really isn’t.  It’s all about landscaping with plants, shrubs and trees that can survive on regular rainfall – and which don’t require additional watering.

There are many local sources for native and drought-resistant plants that can work in your garden.  The Bow Point Nursery is conveniently located in the Springbank area.  Perfect Enterprise and Green Side Up are all regular vendors at the Cochrane Farmers’ Market.  All three sell plants ideally suited to our climate.

Another similar option is naturescaping. Cochrane’s Land Use Bylaw requires that naturescaping be used on 100 per cent of all commercial greenspaces, 50 per cent of all multi-use residential greenspaces and 25 per cent of all other residential developments.  Not quite sure what natural landscaping looks like?  The Town of Cochrane has a demonstration of naturescaping at the corner of West Terrace Drive and West Terrace Point.  It’s basically about using lots of mulch and other permeable or pervious surfacing material with native plants to reduce water use.

You can view a map of the naturescaping demonstration here.

Barrels Are Best

By purchasing a rain barrel, you’ll have a regular, natural supply of water for those times your garden needs an extra shot of moisture.  You can purchase rain barrels locally from the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee at their weekly Farmers’ Market or through Home Reno Heaven.

PitcherCold Water To Go


You can save a surprising amount of water by simply keeping a pitcher of cold water in your fridge. By not running the tap every time you want a cool drink you can make sure that every drop is consumed and not wasted down the drain.

Why not bottle and bring your own water? It takes roughly 7 litres to create the 1 litre plastic bottle of water you purchase in the store.  Filling your own reusable container with tap water is a significant savings of water and money, and also helps reduce the number of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills.

What would happen if we all started refrigerating water for drinking?:

  • Average household (per person), 1 year effect: 2184 litres saved
  • Cochrane, as a whole community, 1 year effect: 32,002,152 litres saved

Tips from The Town of Cochrane


The Town of Cochrane has been a key leader in water conservation efforts – and even has its own expert.  Nicole Schlaak, our local Water Conversation Officer, is responsible for helping educate and motivate Cochrane residents about protecting our water supply. “Water is a very important aspect to living – without water we cannot survive,” Nicole says. “Conserving water is very important for our sustainability. If a person can learn the valuable habit of conservation, this would create a positive influence on future generations.”

Nicole’s Top 5 Water Tips:

  1. Obey the watering bylaw and only water early in the morning or late at night.  This reduces the amount of water that is evaporated by the sun.
  2. Take advantage of Cochrane’s ever-changing climate; use a rain barrel and feed plants and shrubs with saved water
  3. Consider naturescaping and/or xeriscaping
  4. Retrofit your house with low flow fixtures
  5. Eliminate water-wasting habits (for example, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth)

You can get some more great tips from the Town by visiting their website.

The Cochrane Sustainability Plan has developed a comprehensive guide to help you achieve the goals of Pathway 2.  You can click on the  Pathway #2 Action Guide to download a copy.

Want to learn more?  You can download a complete copy of the Cochrane Sustainability Plan for more information.