2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Canadians much quicker to repair an internet outage than a leaky faucet


Note to Reader:

Most Canadians take water for granted. We think we have lots of it and it will always be there. So in 2008, RBC started polling Canadians about their attitudes towards water—to see if the serious water issues around the world were having an impact on how Canadians use and think about water, and tracking whether attitudes are changing.

Since 2008, RBC has made the poll results freely available to NGOs and other interested parties. RBC has encouraged the broad dissemination of the data and its findings because RBC wants to help contribute to a healthy conversation about the value and vulnerability of water in Canada.

Click on  2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study to download a copy of the survey and learn more about the findings.

Just one drop per second wastes 25 litres a day of clean, fresh water

While most Canadians (75 per cent) would fix an internet outage within a few hours or a day, and two-thirds (64 per cent) would repair a TV reception problem that quickly, only half (52 per cent) would fix a leaky faucet within the same timeframe. Further, one-third of Canadians (33 per cent) would take up to a week or more to stop the drip, according to the sixth annual 2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, commissioned by the RBC Blue Water Project and administered by GlobeScan.

“With just days to go until World Water Day on March 22, we’d like Canadians to think about the value of clean, fresh water,” says Bob Sandford, chair of Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade. “To continue enjoying the quality of drinking water we all want and need, Canadians must understand that it’s a finite resource.”

According to the study, Canadians ages 18 to 34 are least likely to repair the leaky faucet within a few hours or a day (45 per cent) and Canadians aged 55 and older are the most likely to fix the drip quickly (65 per cent).

“A dripping faucet might not seem like a big deal, but it takes a lot of energy for municipalities to clean, treat and deliver water to most Canadian households. When you waste water, you’re also wasting the costly energy it took to get that water to you, and that has an impact on the bottom line,” says Sandford.

Of the 81 per cent of Canadians that rely on municipal water services, most don’t have a sense of what they are paying for water.  Only 40 per cent are charged for the amount of water they use. The rest either don’t know how they are charged for water (10 per cent), pay a fixed amount regardless of how much they use (18 per cent), or say their costs are built into their rent or condo fees (33 per cent).  Two-thirds (65 per cent) say they do not have a water meter at their residence.

Younger Canadians feel most guilty about negative behavior – yet do it anyway

Canadians ages 18 to 34 are much more likely to feel guilty about their own negative impact on the environment (45 per cent) than 35 to 55 year olds (28 per cent) or Canadians aged 55+ (19 per cent). Yet, despite this guilt, Canadians ages 18 to 34 are least likely, among all Canadians to:

  • Avoid watering the lawn in the summer (44 per cent versus 51 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, for 35 to 55 year olds and those age 55 and older)
  • Shower for no more than five minutes on any given day (23 per cent versus 41 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively, for 35 to 55 year olds and those age 55 and older)
  • Pay attention to news and other information about fresh water issues (33 per cent versus 35 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, for 35 to 55 year olds and those age 55 and older)

According to the study, young Canadians are far more likely to admit to treating themselves to an extra-long shower when they ‘want to relieve stress or get away from it all’ (37 per cent versus 18 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, for 35 to 55 year olds and 55+).

Highlights of the 2013 Study

In March 2013, RBC hosted a webinar discussion and shared insights from the 6th annual survey on Canadian attitudes toward water. Bob Sandford and Chris Coulter (President of GlobeScan) presented the findings and implications from this quantitative survey of 2,000 Canadians, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.

Click on Review a recording of the full webinar to view the co-presentation by Bob Sandford and Chris Coulter. To download their PowerPoint slides, click here.

Canada’s Most Important Natural Resource

Forty-seven per cent believe fresh water is Canada’s most important natural resource, down from 55 per cent in 2012.

Sixteen per cent say agricultural land is most important.

Fifteen per cent believe oil is Canada’s most important, except in Alberta, where 41 per cent thought oil was most important.

Water Conservation Behaviours

Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians are trying reasonably hard to conserve water, slightly down from 71 per cent in 2012.

One-in-10 Canadians use an automated sprinkler system.

Thirty per cent of Canadian homeowners use rain barrels or other devices to collect rainwater runoff.