Environment Fact Sheets
Outdoor water use, 2015

Release date: July 21, 2017

by Environment, Energy and Transportation Statistics Division

Watering lawns and gardens accounts for much of the residential water used outside the home. In 2013, Canadians used an average of 223 L of water at home every day, which included both indoor and outdoor water use.Note 1 Various strategies exist to help reduce the amount of water used on lawns and gardens, including using rain barrels and cisterns, and different types of sprinkler systems.

Map 1

Description for map 1
The map depicts the proportion of households in Canada, by province, that watered their lawn in 2015.
Table summary
This table displays the results of The map depicts the proportion of households in Canada. The information is grouped by Province (appearing as row headers), percent (appearing as column headers).
Province percent
Newfoundland and Labrador 28
Prince Edward Island 8Note E: Use with caution
Nova Scotia 14
New Brunswick 15Note E: Use with caution
Quebec 27
Ontario 48
Manitoba 38
Saskatchewan 69
Alberta 64
British Columbia 45

Barrels and cisterns

Barrels and cisterns allow households to collect rainwater for use on their lawns and gardens. In 2015, 15% of Canadian households had a barrel or cistern. They were most frequently reported by households in the Prairie provinces (Manitoba (22%), Saskatchewan (28%) and Alberta (25%)) compared to the rest of Canada.

Households in census metropolitan areas (CMAs)Note 2 were less likely to have a barrel or cistern compared to those not in CMAs (13% and 22%, respectively). Of households located in CMAs, households in Kingston were the most likely to have a barrel or cistern, while those in Vancouver were least likely to have one (34% and 5%E, respectively).

Barrels and cisterns were more frequently reported by households in single-detached dwellings (22%) than by households in other types of dwellings.

Owning vs renting

There is a correlation between whether a household owns its dwelling and whether it has a barrel or cistern. In 2015, households that owned the dwelling they lived in were almost five times as likely to have a barrel or cistern compared to those that did not own their home (19% compared to 4%).

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1 Only hand-watered lawn, Used both a sprinkler/sprinkler system and hand watering, Only used a lawn sprinkler or sprinkler system and Too unreliable to be published (F) or did not indicate method used
, calculated using percentage of households that watered their lawn units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Only hand-watered lawn Used both a sprinkler/sprinkler system and hand watering Only used a lawn sprinkler or sprinkler system Too unreliable to be published (F) or did not indicate method used
percentage of households that watered their lawn
Canada 36 11 52 1
B.C. 26 9 64 1
Alta. 24 11 65 0
Sask. 12 12 76 0
Man. 41 15 44 0
Ont. 38 14 47 1
Que. 59 Note F: too unreliable to be published 36 5
N.B. 65 Note F: too unreliable to be published 32 3
N.S. 50 Note F: too unreliable to be published 40 10
P.E.I. Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published 100
N.L. 41 Note F: too unreliable to be published 52 7

Watering lawns

Sprinklers and sprinkler systems

There are many types of sprinklers that homeowners can use to water their lawns and gardens. Stand-alone sprinklers attached to the end of a hose are quite common. Another option consists of sprinkler systems that are composed of in-ground pipes, multiple sprinkler heads and often timers to control when and how much water is applied. Properly used, sprinkler systems can allow water to be applied more efficiently, however the most efficient method may be watering by hand as water is only applied where it’s needed.

Not everyone waters their lawn, however. In 2015, only 43% of Canadian households that had a lawn reported that they had watered it. Of those that did, 63% used some sort of sprinkler or sprinkler system. Nineteen percent of households that watered their lawn used a sprinkler system, compared to 45% that used a standalone lawn sprinkler. The remainder watered their lawns by hand using a hose or watering can.

Households in Saskatchewan (69%) were most likely to have watered their lawn, followed by those in Alberta (64%), while those in Prince Edward Island (8%E), Nova Scotia (14%) and New Brunswick (15%E) were least likely to have watered their lawn in 2015.

Standalone sprinklers

Standalone sprinklers were most frequently used by households in Newfoundland and Labrador (58%) and Alberta (58%), while households in Quebec (30%) were least likely to have used one.

Sprinkler systems

While sprinkler systems can allow households to water their lawns without having to drag hoses and standalone sprinklers around, they do require regular maintenance as pipes may leak, resulting in water being wasted. Of the households that reported using a sprinkler system, half (51%) indicated that their sprinkler systems were at least 8 years old.

Sprinkler systems were most frequently reported by households in Saskatchewan (48%) and British Columbia (39%), while households in the other provinces were in line with the national average. The usage of sprinkler systems in Atlantic Canada is so low that the estimates are too unreliable to be published.

Timers

By controlling the time of day and duration of watering sessions, households can optimize the amount of water they need to apply to their lawns. In recent years, some jurisdictions have implemented restrictions on the time of day and frequency that households can apply water to help conserve water and reduce wastage.Note 3

Overall, 32% of households that used a stand-alone sprinkler or sprinkler system used one in conjunction with a timer. Twelve percent of stand alone sprinklers were used with a timer, while 81% of sprinkler systems included a timer.

Watering gardens

In 2015, 61% of all households in Canada reported that they had a garden or an outside area with trees, shrubs, flowers or vegetables. Of these, 77% of households reported they watered these areas during the summer. The likelihood that a household had done so increased across the country; from Newfoundland and Labrador (59%) in the east to British Columbia (86%) in the west.

About one-quarter of households (24%) that watered their garden used a sprinkler or sprinkler system, 36% of which had a timer.

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About the Households and the Environment Survey

The Households and the Environment Survey asks Canadian households about their activities and behaviours with respect to the environment. It covers a wide variety of topics including water and energy consumption and conservation, hazardous products used in the home, and the household’s interactions with nature. Data from the survey are used by government to guide policies and programs, by researchers to learn more about Canadians and by individuals to see how they compare to the rest of the country.

The target population of the 2015 Households and the Environment Survey consisted of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on reserves and in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions were also excluded.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3881

Available in CANSIM: table 153-0171.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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