The City of Nelson has found huge water losses in commercial buildings, especially from leaking toilets. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Leaking toilets a leading cause of water loss in Nelson commercial buildings

City project has saved 62.4 million litres of water per year so far

One leaking toilet can waste 178 litres of water per hour. That’s about 1.6 million litres per year per leaking toilet.

Consultant data analyst Rory Gallaugher reported that and similar statistics to a very attentive city council at its Dec. 3 meeting – statistics that are likely to have a major effect on Nelson’s water supply.

For several years the city has been installing water meters in industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) buildings in Nelson, for the purpose of data collection, following a recommendation in the city’s Water Master Plan, written in 2007 and updated in 2017.

The meters are equipped to monitor and track hourly, daily, and monthly water use.

Most ICI buildings now have now been equipped with meters, and over the past year, Gallaugher said, 40 to 50 of them have shown 24-hour continuous flows – water flowing in and out of the building continuously, even though the businesses are not open at night. The main reason is leaking toilets.

Gallaugher gave one persuasive example.

In a Nelson multi-unit commercial building, monitoring discovered a continuous 24 hour flow.

Gallaugher and his team discovered a leaking toilet (the main leak) as well as a secondary leak that was a water fountain that was triggering automatically throughout the night.

“This one toilet was leaking to a loss of 175 litres per hour,” Gallaugher said, “every hour of the day. One leaking toilet can lead to a lot of water use.”

He said most toilets leak for two reasons: the flapper will leak water or the floater is incorrectly adjusted and water is flowing into the overflow tube.

The building manager fixed the toilet.

“Eighty-two per cent of the water coming into that building was being lost in that one toilet,” Gallaugher said. “We got it down to zero per cent.”

This saved 1.5 million litres at this single facility over a year.

“So the numbers are quite shocking,” Gallaugher said. “It really really adds up. It’s so great that we can fix these things so easily.”

He said that in addition to toilets, the main water-loss culprits are swamp coolers, freezers, ice-makers and other appliances that cool with water.

In another example, Gallaugher said he worked with a building manager to fix an irrigation system, “which was pouring water into the parking lot.”

He offered the following projected numbers for the whole project, which will be completed in January.

• Prior to fix: 11.551 cubic metres per hour lost

• After fix: 4.425 cubic metres per hour lost

• Saved: 7.126 cubic metres per hour or 62,423,960 litres per year

Councillor Keith Page’s enthusiasm about this data was typical of the appreciative response at the council table.

“There are some significant water savings there, and we should be really proud of this work,” he said. “The signature problem identification I have seen here is just excellent.”

Plugging leaks in the water system complements another arm of Nelson’s water-saving efforts, the improvement of its water supply, with the goal of counteracting potential drought caused by climate change and wildfire.


Nelson council adopts water plan

Completion of Selous Creek line improves Nelson’s water supply

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

Police are cautioning drivers to keep a sharp eye on the road after a Fruitvale man hit and killed an elk along Highway 2A near Trail. The driver was reported to be uninjured, though the car was significantly damaged. Photo: Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Heads up for wildlife warn police after crash with elk on West Kootenay highway

The accident happened in the early morning hours of April 30

The Nelson Police Department says it is stepping up enforcement around schools for the remainder of the academic year. Photo: Submitted
Drive safe in school zones: Nelson police

Close calls have police asking for extra awareness from drivers

The higher elevation melt is getting underway as rivers such as Mark Creek in Kimberley are running faster. Paul Rodgers file
Snow packs down just below normal in East and West Kootenay

The West Kootenay in particular had below normal precipitation in April

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read