Demand Management: The Municipal Solution

Municipal governments across Canada are beginning to take action to manage the demand for water, instead of seeking new sources of supply. Demand management, incorporating water efficient applications, is rapidly gaining popularity as a low cost, effective way to get more service out of existing systems, thus delaying or deferring the need for constructing new works. The benefits of water-efficient techniques apply equally well to rural, private wells and septic disposal systems, as they do to central water and sewer systems in the city.

The wide range of water efficiency initiatives currently being undertaken can be grouped under four principal categories: 1) structural, 2) operational, 3) economic, and 4) socio-political. Most of these water conservation activities fall within the jurisdiction of municipal governments and/or public utilities.


  • metering
  • water recycling systems
  • wastewater re-use
  • flow control devices
  • distribution system pressure reduction
  • water saving devices (efficient fixtures, appliances, and retrofits)
  • drought resistant landscaping (xeriscaping)
  • efficient sprinkling/irrigation technology
  • new process technologies
  • plant improvements


  • leak detection and repair
  • water use restrictions
  • elimination of combined sanitary/storm sewers to reduce loading on sewage treatment plants
  • plant improvements


  • rate structures
  • pricing policies
  • incentives through rebates and tax credits
  • other sanctions (fines)


  • public education
  • information transfer and training
  • regulatory (legislation, codes, standards, and bylaws)

Information from Environment Canada