We are fortunate, in the City of Toronto, to be surrounded by an abundance of fresh water, so much so that we sometimes can take it for granted. Thirsty? Turn on the tap and drink as much of some of the cleanest and safest water in the world as you want. Drip a little free-range mayo from your tofurkey sandwich onto your pants? No worries…just throw them in the wash. Heat wave coming to a hospital near you? Just fill-up that third bank of cooling towers, fire up the extra chiller and you’re good to go.
And while we’re fortunate at the University Health Network (UHN) to be within the City of Toronto, with its abundance of fresh water, there are still many reasons for us to reduce the amount of water we use…390 million of them, to be precise. Well not exactly precise, to be honest (we’re still finalizing our numbers from 2021), but that’s the number of litres by which we’ve reduced our annual water usage over the past 10 years. Just because by luck of geography we’re flush (ouch!) with water, once we look outside our fair city, we see that many parts of the world are not…the World Health Organization is predicting that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas; along with this resource that’s spilled (ouch!) into our laps, comes the responsibility of protecting it. And water, despite being ridiculously inexpensive for the life sustaining resource that it is, is still expensive…those 390 million litres of water UHN didn’t use last year? That’s over $1.6 million we didn’t spend on water…more than just a drop in the bucket (ouch!).
And just as “Little drops of water…make the mighty ocean” (ouch!), the 50% reduction is UHN water since 2012 use is the result of a fluid (ouch!) and wide-ranging approach to water management. Sometimes the opportunities come in drips (ouch!), such as replacing older toilets, with low-flow one. Sometimes it’s a steady flow (ouch!) of initiatives, such as removing older refrigeration units from municipal water cooling or optimizing the way we use water in our buildings. And sometimes in deluges (ouch!) such as connecting Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to the Deep Lake Water Cooling district system which, combined, has reduced UHN water use by almost 100 million litres per year.
So raise a glass of cool, clean water in celebration of UHN’s water saving efforts and do our part to ensure that we have water, water, every where and plenty to drink.