Conserving Water

As the region grows, we have to look after our precious water resources. The Region of Waterloo has programs to help reduce water use. Our Water Efficiency Master Plan outlines our approach to water conservation programs.

Our popular rain barrel sale returned for 2022. New this year, sales were online-only and buyers will collect their barrel from the Fairview Park Mall parking lot on May 5 or 6. The barrels are now sold out. Thank you everyone for your interest in water conservation! 

Reducing water use at home

Small changes add up over time! Get started saving water and lowering your home's water bills with ideas from our Home Water Conservation Tips Sheet. There's also a printer-friendly version here.

Looking for expert advice to help you save water? Our free Water Efficient Technology (WET) program can help you better understand your water use at home and how to reduce it.

Call our program partner Reep Green Solutions at 519-744-9799 extension 1 or complete the online application form to book your free in-home water review if your water use is above average – that's over 150 litres per person per day, or 4.5 m3 per person, per month. Compare your water bill to the table below to see if you qualify for a free home water review.

During a 45 to 60 minute consultation, an expert will check your home's fixtures and appliances for water efficiency and leaks. You’ll also get a report with personalized ways to lower your water use. See if you can lower your water use below 150 litres per person per day with our help.

WET Program staff will wear a mask for the entire visit and maintain physical distance. We ask residents to stay in another room while the reviewer checks their water fixtures.

Average monthly water use table

Please note: the table provides average water use for one month. If you are billed bi-monthly, double the average water use from the table and compare that with your water bill (for example, 9 m3 for a one-person home). If you are unsure what your water use is, we can check with you on the phone.

Checking for leaks

Your toilet can silently leak up to 300 litres a day and cost you a lot of money. Watch this video to learn what to do and other places you can find leaks in your home.

Rain barrels

Our popular rain barrel sale returned for 2022. New this year, sales were online-only and buyers will collect their barrel from the Fairview Park Mall parking lot on May 5 or 6. The barrels are now sold out. Thank you everyone for your interest in water conservation! 

The Region of Waterloo first hosted a one-day rain barrel sale in 2001. Our 200-litre barrels come with easy-to-use attachments including a hose to connect to other barrels and removable mosquito screens. They are sold at a discount price of $40.

You can help conserve drinking water by using these barrels to collect rain for plants or outdoor washing. Rain barrels also reduce stress on our storm water system during rainstorms.

Save on your monthly utility bill

By using rain barrels you may qualify for stormwater credits to save on your monthly utility bill. To learn more contact the city where you live.

Maintaining your rain barrel

During fall clean-up remember your rain barrel so it stays in good condition for next spring:

  1. Drain the barrel and hoses completely
  2. Store screen, hoses and other accessories inside
  3. Place the barrel upside down to avoid water freezing and cracking the barrel
Free gardening webinars

The Region partnered with Reep Green Solutions to offer three free webinars in May 2021 to help gardeners produce landscapes that are beautiful, sustainable and easy to maintain without much water. Topics and speakers were:

  • "Fusion Gardening" with Sean James
  • "Keeping Your Trees Alive and Thriving: Avoid Common Mistakes and Embrace Good Tree Care" with Sarah Taslimi
  • "Ready, Set, Grow" with Nicola Thomas

You can also watch some of our 2020 Naturescaping Webinars anytime on the Region's YouTube page.

Tips for lawns and gardens

Remember, outdoor water use (like watering grass or gardens, filling pools or washing cars) can quickly increase your water consumption and your water bill. Did you know? Watering 10 minutes every day with a hose nozzle uses 4,500 litres of water per month and adds about $25 to your monthly bill. Check out this tips sheet to learn how you can conserve water outdoors this summer.

The following links have more tips on reducing water use in your yard and gardens:

Toilet Replacement Program

The Region of Waterloo offered a Toilet Replacement Program from 1996 to 2014. This program gave a rebate to homeowners who replaced old toilets with a new water-efficient model. The program ended in 2014 and the Region does not currently offer any toilet rebates.

Efficient toilets are now the norm in most homes. If you have an older toilet, switching to a lower-flow model that uses 4.8 litres per flush or less is still an excellent way to decrease your home's water consumption. The long-term water savings can pay for the new toilet over time.

Help for apartment buildings and other multi-unit residential

Do you own or manage an apartment building? A condo building? Student housing? Or a duplex or triplex? We help all types of multi-unit residential properties improve their water efficiency so they can cut waste and save money.

Did you know that toilet flapper leaks are often silent and undetected? Simply replacing a leaky flapper can save up to 330 litres of wasted water per toilet per day? That's $50 per month in lost water! In most cases, only the toilet flapper needs to be replaced rather than the whole toilet, so it can be a cheap and easy fix.

Water conservation is good for our community. Using this resource efficiently helps us provide drinking water to Waterloo Region's growing population without building expensive, new infrastructure. Investing in water efficiency also provides long-term payoffs for property owners – our programs have seen hundreds of dollars saved yearly per apartment unit. The Region of Waterloo’s Water Efficient Technology (WET) program offers several incentives to help multi-residential buildings save money and water:

Multi-Residential Toilet Flapper and Fixture Replacement Program

Toilet flappers are a common cause of leaks that waste water and cost you money. Property managers can receive $15 for every toilet flapper they replace. They can also receive free water-efficient showerheads and tap aerators.

This program provides instant savings and a quick rebate for replacing toilet flappers in all types of multi-unit buildings.

Steps to receiving the rebate:

  1. Complete an online application form to register. Or call 519-575-4400 ext 4762.
  2. The Region will ship you any requested showerheads and tap aerators.
  3. As the property manager, you will purchase and install the right toilet flappers, as well as install any provided showerheads and tap aerators in your building(s).
  4. Once installations are complete, please contact us at watercycle@regionofwaterloo.ca or by calling 519-575-4400 ext 4762 to confirm project completion. We will ask for a copy of your receipts for the toilet flappers. We may also ask for pictures of the installed flappers, showerheads, or aerators.
  5. Once Region staff has confirmed the project is complete, the Region will issue your rebate via direct deposit.

To register or learn more about the program, please call 519-575-4400 ext 4762 or apply anytime using our toilet flapper and fixture replacement program form

Funding for building-wide toilet, showerhead and tap aerator upgrades

We help property managers who upgrade all of their building’s showerheads, toilets and tap aerators. The Region will provide funding based on the project cost and water savings achieved.

Medium to large-sized apartment buildings interested in long-term savings are best suited for this program.

Steps to receiving funding:

  1. Complete an online application form to register. Or call us at 510-575-4400 ext 4762.
  2. As the property manager, you replace all toilets, showerheads and tap aerators in your building(s). Consultants or plumbers are often hired to complete the project.
  3. Once the project is complete, the Region’s Water Efficiency team will review water billing data from the year before and after the project to determine water savings achieved. Please note, the Region receives yearly municipal water billing data each spring.
  4. Next, we look at your project’s invoiced costs, the water savings you’ve achieved, and calculate how quickly your investment will pay for itself. This determines how much Region funding you receive. Our funding is $0.40 per litre saved per day, or less if your upgrades pay for themselves in under two years. Property managers often receive a rebate worth 5 to 13 per cent of their project cost. Remember, the water savings themselves often provide significant long-term financial benefit.
  5. The Region will request any supporting documentation to confirm the project is complete. We will also request your banking information.
  6. The Region of Waterloo will issue funding via direct deposit.

For more information, please call 519-575-4400 ext 4762 or apply anytime with our online application form

Cost sharing for water audits, consulting fees and sub-metering projects

The Region will partner with multi-residential property managers to help pay for qualifying water-saving projects.

  • A water audit can be a good way to understand your property's water consumption and highlight issues. Register with us to receive 50% funding for water balance audits for your building, up to a maximum of $10,000.
  • Sub-metering is a powerful tool to understand where water use comes from. This data helps find problems and can encourage conservation by billing tenants for the water they actually use. We offer 50% funding for water sub-metering installations in apartment buildings or condominiums, up to a maximum of $10,000.

For more information, please call 519-575-4400 ext 3558 or apply anytime with our online application form.

Water softeners

Residents of Waterloo Region often use water softeners to remove minerals in groundwater that can build up in pipes and harm appliances over time. Not all water softeners are the same and some use much more water and salt to remove hardness. The Region of Waterloo and the City of Guelph worked together to test various softeners to rate salt and water use. The Water Softener Facts website includes test reports, hardness maps and more.

Want to learn more? Watch our "Smart about Water Softeners" webinar from Sept. 23, 2020. We discuss how softeners work, how they impact our environment, and how to soften efficiently to save water, salt and money.

Water Softener Plumbing Rebate Program

The Region of Waterloo launched a pilot rebate program in July 2020 for households to change their water softener plumbing to treat hot water only. We'll offer a one-time rebate of $50 per household for the plumbing change. The program aims to help to reduce salt from entering local rivers and conserve drinking water.

The rebate program is open to residents of single-family homes and semi-detached or townhouses. Businesses and large apartment buildings are not eligible. The rebate is for homes that switch their salt-based softener to soften hot water only. Non-salt technologies are not eligible for this rebate. Residents installing a new water softener can receive the rebate if they now soften hot water only and were not previously doing so.

Special offer! For a limited-time, the Region is giving away a free 200-litre rain barrel to the first 10 households that complete a plumbing switch in 2022 through our Water Softener Plumbing Rebate Program. These rain barrels retail for $100 or more. To get both your rain barrel and the normal $50 rebate, simply complete the Water Softener Plumbing Rebate program as described on this webpage.

Visit page 115 of the December 3, 2019 Planning and Works Committee agenda to learn more about the program. Or watch our "Smart about Water Softeners" webinar from Sept. 23, 2020. We discuss how softeners work, how they impact our environment, and how to soften efficiently to save water, salt and money.

How to get your rebate

Step 1: Resident registers for program

  • Option A: Resident can register online. After you register, the Region's Water Efficiency staff will mail you a simple test kit to test your home's water hardness. The test takes only a few minutes and is done by holding a test strip under running water. Residents will submit their water hardness results to complete registration for the program
  • Option B: Resident can request a free WET Home Water Review with Reep Green Solutions. During the visit, Reep Green Solutions will test the home’s water hardness and complete the resident's program registration

Step 2: Region confirms rebate requirements are met

  • Option A: Resident can emailsubmit online or mail plumbing receipts to the Region's Water Efficiency Team to confirm the plumbing changes have been made. Images, hardness results and receipts can be uploaded to the online form
  • Option B: To check that hot water only is now being softened, your water hardness can be tested as part of a WET Home Review. If you have not had a WET Home Review before, residents can schedule their visit to complete the water softener program, and also receive a free review of their home's water use

Step 3: Region issues rebate to resident

  • Resident can emailsubmit online or mail a void cheque or direct vendor deposit form to the Region's Water Efficiency Team. We will forward payment information to the Finance department
  • Region's Finance department issues $50 rebate via direct deposit to resident

Frequently Asked Questions

Softening hot water only has advantages and some disadvantages. Benefits include saving money on water and salt bills, and lowering chloride pollution in our environment. Drawbacks might include increased cleaning or maintenance to keep scale from building up on toilets, showers and appliances. Without proper care, your fixtures and appliances may not last as long. Keep in mind, those costs will be offset by lower water and salt bills, and your smaller environmental footprint.

Each homeowner can decide for themselves which advantages are important to them and their level of tolerance for hard water.

Click a topic below to view our Frequently Asked Questions. Questions and answers will be added or edited as we gather new information. 

Laundry

Question: Will softening hot water only void my washing machine’s warranty?
Answer: Unlikely. Most common manufacturers’ warranties do not require soft water for their machines. Check your owner’s manual to be sure. Keep in mind, scale will happen slower when you use cold water to wash instead of hot.

Question: Will the colour of my clothing come out less bright from hard water?
Answer: We have no evidence that hard water affects colours. Use a fabric softener and a good quality laundry detergent. Anecdotally, some people have told us that hard water works fine for laundry.

Question: Will hard water change how much detergent I need?
Answer: It’s possible you’ll find you need more laundry detergent with hard water (see this 2011 study). But your own results may vary.

Showers
Question: Will I need to use more shampoo? Will my soap not lather as well with hard water?
Answer: Soap and shampoo will lather less with hard water, so you may need to use more. But your own results may vary. You can also look for soaps and other products that are designed for hard water.

Question: Will my shower water feel different?
Answer: Some people notice a different feel on their skin with hard vs soft water. Soft water can feel "slippery" and hard water can feel "dry." Some people prefer one or the other – or you may not notice the difference.

Question: Will my showerhead warranty be voided?
Answer: No, manufacturers do not require softened water for showerheads. You may get scale build-up on your showerhead affecting water pressure, which can be removed by soaking in vinegar.

Dishwashers
Question: Will I have spotty dishes? Will scale ruin my dishwasher?
Answer: No. Dishwashers are usually connected to hot water only, so their water supply will still be softened. You should not notice any difference with a dishwasher from softening hot water only. If your dishwasher is connected to the cold water line, consult your owner's manual before switching to hard water.
Toilets
Question: Will hard water create scale build-up inside my toilet tank?
Answer: Yes, over time the flapper and fill valve inside the tank can develop mineral build-up. Build-up may need to be cleaned off the flapper seat or the flapper. These can be cleaned with vinegar (once per year). Flappers can also be easily replaced (and should be regularly replaced to avoid toilet leaks). The jets that release water into your toilet bowl may sometimes get clogged on older models. This can be brushed away or cleaned using vinegar.

Question: Will hard water create scale build-up in the toilet bowl?
Answer: Yes, this can happen. Scale is cleanable with vinegar or baking soda. Brownish-red build-up comes from iron in your water, not calcium or magnesium. You can also wash this off, or consider getting an iron filter if needed.

Pipes
Question: Will my pipes get clogged with scale build-up from hard water?
Answer: Modern pipes don’t develop scale the way older galvanized pipes did. It would take a long time to build up significant scale. Again, hard water will develop scale much slower when cold compared to hot.
The environment
Question: What are the benefits of softening hot water only?
Answer: Your water softener will use approximately 65% less salt and water when you soften hot only. An average family of three would save 108 kg of salt and 8,800 litres of water per year by switching to soften hot only. That’s an $84 value.

Question: Why should I use less salt?
Answer: Chlorides from salt are not removed during our wastewater treatment process the way organic and other impurities are. All the salt from people’s water softeners ends up in our local rivers. That builds up and is harmful to plants and animals. Combined with road salts, chlorides are threatening our waterways.

Question: Why should I use less water?
Answer: The Region of Waterloo relies on groundwater for most of our water supply. Conserving water helps make sure we have enough for future generations, and avoids the need for expensive new infrastructure or even a costly pipeline to the Great Lakes. Pumping and treating water also requires energy, so conserving water lowers our community’s environmental footprint.

Hard water and health
Question: Will hard water affect skin conditions like eczema?
Answer: We are not aware of any evidence that soft water is better for eczema or other skin conditions. But consult with your doctor.

Question: Is it better to drink hard or soft water?
Answer: Softened water does have a higher salt content, which is why many homes prefer to run an unsoftened water line to the kitchen tap. This small amount of salt, however, is not generally considered harmful to health. If you require a special low-salt diet, consult your doctor about drinking softened water.

Qualifying for the $50 Water Softener Plumbing Rebate
Question: How much will the plumbing change cost me to soften hot water only?
Answer: Plumbing costs will be unique for each home, depending on your layout. Early program participants have typically reported plumbing costs of $300-$400.

Question: Can I get the $50 rebate if I install an NAC unit or another alternative water treatment technology?
Answer: No. At this time, our program is only for salt-based water softeners. But choosing a salt-free technology might be the right choice for your home... let us know how it goes!

Question: Can I apply for the rebate if I rent my water softener?
Answer: Yes, renting your water softener does not affect your eligibility for the Region’s program. You may want to check the terms of your softener rental contract.

Question: Can I get the $50 rebate if I’m buying a new softener?
Answer: Yes, as long as you install the new softener on hot water only (and were not previously softening hot only). This applies if you’re buying a replacement water softener or your first one.

Question: What about concerns I'm hearing from my plumber or water softener salesperson?
Answer: Plumbers and water softener retailers may raise valid points for you to consider. Keep in mind, though, that water softener companies are in the business of selling you water softeners. They may emphasize the concerns with hard water to improve sales. There are pros and cons to both hard and soft water. We have a growing list on our website of plumbers and water softener retailers who will help customers who wish to soften hot water only. You'll find the list in the menu titled "Click for our list of participating plumbers and water softener dealers."

Question: Can I still get the $50 rebate if I install a bypass valve so I can choose when to soften cold water or not?
Answer: We hope you will commit to softening hot water only and enjoy the water and salt savings. However, at this time we will still provide the $50 rebate if you install a bypass valve as part of the plumbing changes you make for the Water Softener Plumbing Rebate.

Question: Can I still get the $50 rebate if I just disconnect my water softener?
Answer: You cannot get the rebate just for turning off your water softener, because the rebate is intended to help with documented plumbing costs.

Question: I live in an apartment building or a condo. Can I get this rebate?
Answer: No. This program applies only to single family homes and townhouses with their own water softener. The Region of Waterloo does have other water conservation programs to assist multi-residential properties, businesses and other organizations.

Question: I already soften hot water only. Can I get a $50 rebate?
Answer: No, our rebate program is to motivate people to make the switch and compensate them for plumbing costs. If you made the switch in the last six months and have the normally required documentation, you can still get the rebate.

Question: How long will it take for me to see the benefits of this program?
Answer: For an average family of three, softening hot water only saves an estimated $84 per year. Repayment time will depend on each individual home’s plumbing costs. If the plumbing change costs $350, the investment will repay itself in 3.5 years.

Question: Can you help me find a plumber to switch to softening hot water only?
Answer: We have a growing list on our website of plumbers and water softener retailers who will help customers soften hot water only. You'll find the list in the menu titled "Click for our list of participating plumbers and water softener dealers."

 

Check out our Water Softener Facts website for a more general FAQ about water softeners and how they work.

Info for plumbers and water softener professionals

Attention Waterloo Region plumbers and water softener retailers! You can work with people in our Water Softener Plumbing Rebate Program by joining the "W.E.T. Plumbers and Dealers" list. Fill out this online form after watching our “Efficient Water Softening for Plumbers” Zoom webinar (75 minutes) on the Region's YouTube page. Then, we'll share your contact information with Water Softener Plumbing Rebate Program participants who may be seeking a plumber or a new water softener.

Are your customers asking about softening hot water only through the Region's Water Softener Plumbing Rebate? We have a poster that describes the program and its benefits. Download a PDF of the poster or you can email us to request printed copies. 

Click for our list of participating plumbers and water softener dealers

The Region of Waterloo is collecting a list of plumbers and water softener retailers who support the Water Softener Plumbing Rebate program. These professionals have learned about the Region's program and are willing to help soften hot water only.

If you are a plumber or softener retailer interested in joining the WET Plumbers and Dealers list, here is the sign up form.

Name and companyAddressContact informationPlumber or water softener dealer?Offers water softener tune-ups?Offers non-salt technologies?
Stephen Harrington, Plumingo 21-55 Mooregate Cr., Kitchener

226-929-2317

Plumingo.info@gmail.com 

Licensed plumber  Yes No
John Botelho, Housing Cambridge 477 Burnett Ave, Cambridge

519-240-9860

John@housingcambridge.com

Licensed plumber Yes No
Taylor McCabe, Oakridge Plumbing Solutions 69 Trafalgar Ave, Kitchener

519-568-5557

service@oakridgeplumbing.ca

Licensed plumber Yes No
Scott Weinhardt, W.C. Weinhardt Plumbing Inc 199 Franklin St N, Kitchener

519-894-3670

wcweinhardt@gmail.com

Licensed plumber  Yes  No
Roger Greene, WaterMD 504-20 Barrel Yards Blvd, Waterloo

226-600-8550

Homewatersecurity@gmail.com

Authorized softener dealer  Yes  Yes

THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF WATERLOO GIVES NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE QUALITY, MERCHANTABILITY, WORKMANSHIP OR ANY OTHER MATTER WITH RESPECT TO ANY PLUMBER OR WATER SOFTENER PROFESSIONAL LISTED ON THIS WEBPAGE.

Why soften hot water only?

Switching to soften only your home’s hot water will save you money on water and salt. It protects the environment too! Softeners use salt and extra water to remove the minerals that make our water “hard.” The more water that’s softened in your house, the more salty discharge water your softener sends down the drain. Softeners add 16,000 tonnes of salt to the Region of Waterloo’s waterways each year. This harms plants and animals and can even affect the taste of our drinking water when salt levels get high enough.

We estimate softening hot water only saves a household of three 108 kilograms of salt and 8,800 litres of water per year. That’s worth $84 back in your pocket, plus six heavy bags of salt you don’t need to haul around.

It shrinks your carbon footprint too! Softening hot water only reduces a household of three’s greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 48 kilograms per year.

Benefits to the home owner:

• Healthier drinking and irrigation
• Reduced backwash water and salt savings
• Fewer heavy bags of salt to carry!
• Increased life expectancy of water softeners
• Reduced chloride impacts on rivers
• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions through salt/water savings

Did You Know?

  • There are an estimated 142,000 water softeners in Waterloo Region homes. They consume an estimated 1.5 billion litres of backwash water each year
  • Commercial facilities, institutions and high-rise apartments do not typically soften cold water
  • Water softener backwashing accounts for about 7% of a household’s water use in Waterloo Region
  • Water softeners in Waterloo Region contribute an estimated 4,860 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year from water, salt and electricity use

Salt-free water conditioning study results

Between 2017 and 2018, Region of Waterloo and City of Guelph hired Metroline Research Group to complete a market research study that involved installing salt-free water conditioning units in 18 volunteer households. To see how well they performed in real world conditions and how people felt about the units after a year of use, read the study results.

Lawn watering rules (Water Conservation By-law)

The Water Conservation By-law 07-069 (and amendments) is in effect every year from May 31 to September 30. By following the By-law, you help to reduce peak water use and limit the risk of an outdoor watering ban.

During the summer, remember that outdoor water use (like watering grass or gardens, filling pools or washing cars) can quickly increase your water consumption. Besides following the Conservation By-law, check out these tips for conserving water outside this summer.

Below you will find by-law information and online application forms. If you need more assistance, contact us at 519-575-4400 ext. 3445 (this phone number is only staffed from May 31 to Sept. 30), or email us at watercycle@regionofwaterloo.ca.

Find your outdoor water times

You can water your lawn one day a week.

Lawn watering must take place on your assigned day from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Addresses ending with a:

  • 0 or 1 water lawns on Mondays
  • 2 or 3 water lawns on Tuesdays
  • 4 or 5 water lawns on Wednesdays
  • 6 or 7 water lawns on Thursdays
  • 8 or 9 water lawns on Fridays

For other outdoor activities (not lawn watering), you can water every other day. The last digit of your address's street number determines your watering days:

  • Odd-numbered property addresses can water on odd-numbered calendar dates. For example, a property with address 205 (an odd number) can water on the 1st, the 3rd, the 5th, etc.
  • Even-numbered property addresses can water on even-numbered calendar dates. For example, a property with address 1078 (an even number) can water on the 2nd, the 4th, the 6th, etc.
  • Watering must take place between 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Other outdoor watering activities include watering gardens, trees, shrubs and other outdoor plants, washing vehicles with a controlled hose or shut-off valve, and topping up of permanent residential pools.

Seed, sod and nematode applications
Nematode applications

To request additional watering times, before applying nematodes:

  • Contact the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTY): 519-575-4608)  or complete the nematodes watering application form to request additional watering times.
  • Provide your name, address, phone number and the nematode application date.
  • A permit is not required however proof of the nematode purchase must be available if requested by the Region of Waterloo.
  • You can only receive one permit for nematodes in a calendar year.

How often you can water:

Upon registering your request and after applying the nematodes to your lawn, you can water anytime for the first 24 hours and then between the hours of 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the next six days in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Newly planted sod or seed

We encourage everyone to plant new seed or sod in the spring and fall, when temperatures are cooler and less watering is required. To request additional watering times, before planting sod or seeding your lawn:

  • Contact the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTY): 519-575-4608) or complete the sod or seed watering application form to request additional watering times.
  • Provide your name, address, phone number and the planting date for the sod or seed.
  • Permit will be delivered through Canada Post.
  • Post your permit in a visible location.
  • You can only receive one permit for new seed or sod in a calendar year.

How often you can water with a permit:

Upon registering your request and after planting the sod or seed, you can water anytime for the first 24 hours. For the next six days, you can water each day between the hours of 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Following the six-day period, you can water for an additional seven days between the hours of 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the odd or even calendar day based on the last digit on your address number.  For example if your property address is 123 Water Street, you can water on odd days.

Questions and answers
Why is it important to follow the Water Conservation By-law?

During the summer months, water use can increase by up to 50 percent putting additional strain on our water supply and the infrastructure - water pumps, treatment plants -that carries water to and from its destination.

The Region of Waterloo Water Conservation By-law helps to reduce water use peaks and limits the risk of an outdoor water use ban to lessen strain on our water supply and infrastructure.

Can I request a change to my lawn watering day?

You may apply for a change to your lawn watering day. Once the new watering day is approved, you must only water on that day or you can be fined without warning.

  • Applications are not accepted until May 1 of the year you are applying
  • There are a limited number of permits available on a first come, first served basis
  • There is no waiting list
  • $10 administrative fee applies for each permit and is only valid for year issued
  • Approved applicants will receive a sticker to display on front door or window of the property

To request a new watering day, please call 519-575-4400, ext 3445 or complete the change watering day application form.

Can I use a hand-held watering can to water my garden when it is not my allowed watering day?
Yes, you can use buckets, barrels or watering cans that are not directly connected to the municipal water supply to water lawns and gardens at any time.
Can I use a hose connected to the water supply or an irrigation system to water gardens, trees, shrubs and plants on my odd-even watering day?
Yes.
If I have an automatic irrigation system with a set timer, can I apply for a permit to operate outside the normal restriction hours?
No, everyone must follow their assigned watering days and hours.
Is the Region of Waterloo required to issue an official warning to me before I can be charged for not following the Water Conservation By-law?
No, Regional Police and By-law Enforcement Officers may lay charges without warning. However, Region policy is to provide education, information and warning notices to property owners as a courtesy. If water use violations are observed after a warning has been issued, charges will be laid.
If I need to fill my swimming pool during the Water Conservation By-law restrictions following installation or after completing repairs, am I subject to follow the watering times?
No. The current Water Conservation By-law applies to top ups only. Complete filling of pools is not restricted.
Can I wash my car at any time on weekends?
If connecting directly to the municipal supply property owners must wash their cars on their assigned outdoor watering days. If you are washing your car with a bucket, you can wash your car at any time.
Can I run a car wash event to raise funds for charitable purposes while the Water Conservation By-law is in effect?
Yes but we ask that you contact the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTY): 519-575-4608) to notify us of the event including the charity the event is for. This helps us respond to any complaints we may receive.
Can I wash my deck, house or driveway with a hose or power washer before applying treatments or paint?
Yes, washing once immediately prior to applying any paint or treatment is allowed. Weekly or regular washing and hosing of these areas, however, is not allowed.
Is once-through water use for children's municipal play areas allowed while the Water Conservation By-law is in effect?
Yes, water use through sprinklers and fountains for children's recreation both in public and private areas is allowed.
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Business programs and funding
The Water Efficient Technology (WET) Program provides commercial, industrial and institutional-sector companies with resources and funding to reduce water use. Benefit from lower water and associated energy costs, as well as public recognition for your environmental stewardship. From simple tweaks to larger projects, we can help. Call 519-575-4400 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTY): 519-575-4608) to learn more.
Services and funding we provide
Free water-use reviews

Request your free water-use review. Our staff will conduct an on-site review of your water uses and help you create an action plan. It is a great way to learn about the program, discuss your water use requirements and find out about available funding. 

Fixture replacements

Upgrading to water-efficient fixtures reduces your water costs and can often save on energy too. The Region of Waterloo can help:

  • Upgrade your inefficient showerheads and aerators for free with new water-efficient fixtures
  • Restaurants and food processors can also receive free upgrades for pre-rinse spray valves
Funding and cost sharing

We offer cost-sharing and rebate opportunities for many different CII (Commercial, Industrial, Institutional) businesses:

  • 50% funding for facility water balance audits, up to a maximum of $10,000
  • 50% funding for engineering consulting fees for water process upgrades, up to a maximum of $10,000
  • 50% funding for water sub-metering installations within manufacturing plants, low-rise condominiums, strip malls and other commercial businesses, up to a maximum of $10,000
  • We help repay businesses that invest in water conservation. Funding is based on measured water savings and the project's capital costs

Winter maintenance resources

Salt can damage concrete, kill landscapes, destroy flooring and carpets. Most importantly, salt harms our community’s drinking water.

These free winter maintenance resources can help protect your property from over-salting while maintaining winter safety.

Business and Restaurant certifications

The Region of Waterloo awards certifications to recognize local businesses for their sustainable water use. We offer a water efficiency certification for restaurants, and another water efficiency certification for all other businesses.

Many businesses can lower operating costs by conserving water and its associated energy consumption. Whether in the commercial, industrial or institutional fields, companies find savings by:

  • Reducing leaks
  • Changing employee behaviour
  • Upgrading/servicing inefficient equipment such as:
    • Toilets
    • Spray valves
    • Faucets
    • Water softeners
    • Water-cooled compressors
    • Washing systems

In restaurants, there are even more opportunities to save when upgrading/servicing:

  • Ice machines
  • Steamers
  • Wok tables
  • Dishwashers
  • Hot water systems

Join the Region’s growing list of restaurants and other businesses in Waterloo Region recognized for their sustainable water use.

List of Water Efficient Certified Restaurants
  • Angie’s (Erb St., Waterloo)
  • Beertown (Cambridge)
  • Borealis Grille & Bar
  • Boston Pizza (Alpine Centre, Kitchener)
  • Boston Pizza (King St. N., Waterloo)
  • Boston Pizza (Erb St., Waterloo)
  • Charcoal Steakhouse
  • Chicopee Tube Park
  • Chill Bar & Grill
  • East Side Mario’s (King St. Waterloo)
  • Edelweiss Tavern
  • Fionn MacCool's (King St. E., Kitchener)
  • Golf’s Steak House & Seafood
  • Kings Buffet (Kitchener)
  • Kypreos Restaurant
  • Marble Slab Creamery (Fischer-Hallman Dr., Kitchener)
  • Nith River Chop House
  • Proof Kitchen and Lounge
  • Subway (Highland Rd., Kitchener)
  • Subway (Jamieson Pkwy., Cambridge)
  • Subway (Baden, Wilmot Township)
  • Swiss Chalet (Fairway Rd., Kitchener)
  • The Keg (Cambridge)
  • Tim Horton’s (Holiday Inn Dr. Cambridge)
  • Tim Horton's (University Ave., Waterloo)
List of Water Efficient Certified Businesses
  • Cambridge Non-Profit Housing
  • CCC Sulphur Products (Sulco)
  • Centurion Property Associates Inc. (Toronto)
  • Chicopee Tube Park
  • City of Cambridge
  • City of Kitchener
  • City of Waterloo
  • Clean Cut Energy (Multi-residential properties in Waterloo Region)
  • Enviro-Stewards Inc.
  • Grand River Foods (Cambridge)
  • Grand River/Freeport Hospitals

  • Kuntz Electroplating

  • Medi-Terra Properties (River Park Village, Cambridge)
  • Onyx Energy (Kitchener)
  • Piller's Fine Foods (Waterloo)
  • Plasti-Fab Ltd

  • Starlight Investments

  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Company (Cambridge)  

  • Valet Car Wash

  • Victoria Park Community Homes (Hamilton)
  • Waterloo Brewing

  • Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB)
  • Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB)
Criteria for Water Efficient Certified Restaurants

To become a Water Efficient Certified Restaurant, collect five or more points from completing any of the following activities:

Examples of what local restaurants have done to become certified:

  • completed energy and water audits
  • replaced or installed fixtures such as pre-rinse spray valves, tap aerators, flush-valve toilets and urinals with water- and energy efficient models
  • installed hands-free faucets to ensure taps always turned off
  • organized plumbing maintenance schedule for timely leak repairs
  • replaced water-cooled refrigerators with air-cooled models
  • upgraded steam cooling lines to restrict excessive water flows
  • serviced or planned to replace water softening systems
  • installed sub-metering to separate restaurant from parent business, for example, in a hotel
  • maintained outdoor irrigation systems, including pop-up sprinklers
Criteria for Water Efficient Certified Businesses

To become a Water Efficient Certified Business, collect five or more points from completing any of the following activities: 

  • A water balance audit: 3 points
  • A water use review by Region staff: 1 point
  • Billing analysis: 1 point
  • Achieve proven water savings: 3 points
  • An employee working on water efficiency: 1 point
  • A water conservation policy: 1 point
  • An Environmental Management System for water conservation: 1 point
  • Employee education and awareness training: 1 point

Examples of what local businesses have done to become certified:

  • Installed rainwater harvesting and water reuse systems (steam traps, cooling water) 
  • Upgraded reverse osmosis and water softeners
  • Sub-metering (industrial and multi-residential properties)
  • Replaced or installed water- and energy efficient fixtures such as toilets, showerheads and aerators
  • Installed water flow monitors (Flowies)
  • Replaced boiler
  • Reprogramming or rebuilding manufacturing more efficient product lines

Learn more by contacting us via the phone number or email at the bottom of this page.

Water Efficiency Excellence Award

Each year, the Water Efficiency Excellence Award recognizes a local business that completes an exemplary water conservation project. Congratulations to our past winners.

Success stories

Learn how businesses are working with the Region of Waterloo to reduce water use. Also, learn how sub-metering can benefit your business or organization.

Please complete our contact form to request additional information about any of the Region's WET programs.

Contact Us