Strange to think that today, on a wet first day of Spring, just a short walk from one of the largest fresh water systems in the world, that we need to worry about water, let alone need a World Water Day (which just happens to be this Saturday, March 22, 2014).

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But according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), by 2050 47% of the world could be living under severe water stress.  So, while we’re fortunate by luck of geography, not to have to worry about water, yet, we definitely need to start thinking about it.

A few UHN water tidbits for you:

  • In 2013 UHN used 793 million litres of water – a pretty huge number, but 84 million litres less than we used in 2012 and a whopping 178 million less litres than consumed in 2010.
  • On its own, Toronto Western Hospital slurped up 237 million litres of water in 2013.  Of this, 11 million litres were used for cooling the building…and of those 11 million litres, over 6 million litres of drinking quality water evaporated through cooling towers.  Which is why we’re looking at ways of not using drinking quality water for cooling…not to mention making sure we cool as efficiently as possible.
  • Toronto General Hospital has over 800 toilets throughout the campus – fortunately, because almost all of these are low flow units it means, based on a very conservative estimate of one use per toilet per day, that we’re flushing at least 2 million litres less of water down the drain.
  • We’re constantly on the lookout for more ways to save water – over 6 million litres per year found at each of University Centre and Bickle Centre with audit results coming for Lyndhurst, Rumsey and TMDT.
  • And it’s not just about reducing water use in our existing buildings…it’s about building new buildings with water efficiency in mind…which is why our new Krembil Discovery Tower was designed to use 60% less water than a “normal” building, including the collection of rainwater.

So, raise a glass of cool, clean water on March 22, in honour of water and all we need to do to preserve it.

“…we are not an oil country.  We are a water country.  The implications and the responsibilities of this are enormous, and growing bigger by the day.  The drama at the heart of water is that we have no alternative…we either have it, or we do not”  –Edward Burtynsky, Water, The Walrus 10 (8), October 2013.