Water use efficiency is an essential part of York Region’s Long Term Strategy. As a rapidly growing municipality, water availability and cost is a growing concern to York Region. Costs and environmental impact can be reduced if water can be conserved and used more efficiently.

To help York Region continue with its award winning Water for Tomorrow program, IndEco and our partners are currently working with York Region to research, design and implement water conservation and efficiency program solutions.

To begin the development of the program solutions, IndEco conducted two strategic planning sessions with staff from York Region to define a ‘preferred state ‘ for the Water for Tomorrow program. The output of the strategic planning sessions included the requirements of rebate and incentive programs, identification of the preferred water efficient technologies, and program communication and marketing strategies to promote water conservation and efficiency within York Region.

In conjunction with the strategic planning sessions, IndEco began examining water conservation and efficiency programs in other jurisdictions and how effective those initiatives have been. Based on an understanding of best practices from other jurisdictions and the unique circumstances of York Region, a portfolio of programs was designed to achieve the goal through conservation and efficiency improvements in both homes and businesses.

IndEco prepared an extensive report on the best practices of twelve jurisdictions across Canada and the United States. IndEco identified best practices for rebate programs in the single-family and multi-unit residential, and industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) market sectors; pre-rinse spray valve programs in commercial kitchens; rain barrel sales events; ICI water audit and capacity buy back programs; humidifier programs in the single-family and multi-unit residential market sectors; and irrigation programs in the single-family and multi-unit residential and ICI market sectors.

IndEco used the output of the strategic planning sessions, the best practice report, York Region’s Water Efficiency Master Plan, past experience, and community-based social marketing tools to design, develop and implement program strategies to reduce both residential and commercial/industrial water use in York Region.

The program strategies include objectives, description, rationale, duration, and marketing and promotion; audience and fixture replacement targets; incentives; monitoring and tracking; and program evaluation.

The Water for Tomorrow program includes rebates for residential, multi-unit residential and ICI market sectors adopted water efficient technologies; a no cost, direct install program of low flow pre-rinse spray valves for commercial kitchens; a rain barrel water conservation program and a water use audit and incentive program for large industrial customers.

We are just now in year two of a three year program. In the first year of the program, water savings of more than 700 million litres per year were estimated for the Region. In addition, there were significant energy savings associated with the pre-rinse spray valve replacements, which reduce the use of heated water.

Table 1 Estimated program water savings in 2009
per unit
Total savings (L/a)
Toilet rebates
Pre-rinse spray valves
Rain barrels
Note: Preliminary results that do not account for free riders, persistence or other adjustments. Savings for toilets are weighted average of all types replaced and installed.

Please check back with us for additional results on other water conservation programs as they become available.