Woman refilling bottle from a public drinking water faucet in Vancouver.

Clean Water

Our goal: Vancouver will have the best drinking water of any city in the world

Population growth and climate change will impact our access to water in the future. We are working to help residents and businesses use less water. 

Read about the:

Our target: Meet or beat the strongest of British Columbian, Canadian, and appropriate international drinking water quality standards and guidelines
Our target: Reduce per capita water consumption by 33% from 2006 levels

Progress we've made so far

Water Consumption Chart
Hover on data points for more information on that year's performance.
To learn more about this metric, see the 'How We Measure Success' section below.

We have excellent water quality, but action is needed to ensure our current water supply meets the increasing pressures of climate change, population growth, and a growing economy. Now is the time to focus our water conservation efforts.

  • 6.1 - Include testing from drinking water fountains in our routine water quality monitoring program.
  • 6.2 - Reduce institutional, commercial, and industrial (ICI) water consumption through policy and compliance measures.
  • 6.3 - Reduce residential water consumption through incentives, education, and compliance measures.
  • 6.4 - Reduce water system loss and civic use.

Our 2015-2016 successes

Recent initiatives that bring us closer to reaching the Clean Water goal.

2015 had one of the driest summers in recent memory. Because of the dry conditions, water use was actually on the rise in spring 2015—up 12% from the same period in 2014—until Stage 3 water restrictions were implemented. Vancouver residents and businesses helped reverse the trend and dropped water use dramatically for the rest of 2015.

In April 2016, we adopted a long-term target to capture and treat 90% of Vancouver’s average annual rainfall through green infrastructure. Moving forward, we will develop a detailed plan to make this happen.

Green and natural infrastructure will:

  • Give us cleaner local waterways
  • Support the Biodiversity Strategy
  • Help build resilience to heavier and more frequent rainfall events caused by climate change in the future

 

The Gathering Place Community Centre has been an integral part of the Downtown South community since 1995. Free laundry and shower facilities are among the services it offers to Vancouver's vulnerable populations.

Gathering Place volunteers worked with laundry users to ensure washing machines were running with only full loads. Just this simple measure resulted in significant savings in water and energy used at the facility. 

Get more details about our successes: Read the implementation update for 2015-2016  (8 MB)

Our 2014-2015 successes

Initiatives that brought us closer to reaching the Clean Water goal from 2014 to 2015.

In fall 2015 we partnered with FortisBC and BC Hydro to install new water and energy efficient dish cleaning pre-rinse spray valves and faucet aerators in restaurants.

These fixtures use up to 80% less water, helping restaurants cut their hot water use and energy bills. In total, 509 spray valves and 1,591 aerators were installed in 476 participating restaurants.

The estimated annual water savings—more than 100,000 m3—would be enough to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Garden Parties Program was a three-year program (2012-2014) that connected residents with a trained and professional garden consultant who came to their home to deliver a hands-on workshop.

In total, 130 homes were visited and 650 residents received information on how to achieve a beautiful garden while using water efficiently. Garden hosts invited friends and neighbours to share the experience, building community as well as teaching skills in water efficient landscape management.

We replace about 10 kilometres of combined sewer pipe each year with a storm sewer and a sanitary sewer system.

Old systems are combined so that in drier weather, storm water and waste water are carried to the sewage treatment plant together. But in heavy rains, high volumes of storm water can exceed the capacity of a combined sewer system. The excess would then overflow and empty directly into our waterways. We intend to eliminate this sewage overflow by 2050.

Get more details about our successes: Read the implementation update for 2014-2015  (2 MB)

These metrics are maintained by the Waterworks Design Branch within Engineering Services at the City.  
 

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Initiatives that are helping us reach our goal and targets

Metered rates

Find more information about metered rates for water, sewer, and energy. The City has introduced seasonal metered water rates to meet our water conservation goals.

Separating sewage from rainwater

We are installing separated sewer lines to replace the combined sewer system. Find out why we are separating them.

Water meters

Understand how water meters work and how they help us conserve our drinking water supply.