Water Use


Water use measures the average amount of water used per person on a daily basis.

Why This Matters

The world is facing a significant water crisis as a result of over-consumption, pollution, climate change and population growth in water-stressed regions (Barlow, 2007; Brown, 2011). In Canada, water scarcity is not as imminent as in some other countries; however, proper stewardship and care remains important (Zubrycki, Roy, Venema, & Brooks, 2011).

If water quantity or quality within waterways is too low, the well-being of organisms and ecosystems can be affected. Instream flow needs, the amount of water required to support aquatic organisms and their habitats (e.g., wetlands), can be threatened by large-scale human consumption (Morris et al., 2007; UNESCO, 2009). For the City of Winnipeg, water flows through a 136-kilometre aqueduct from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Ontario, to Deacon Reservoir, on the east side of the Winnipeg floodway. Water is then pumped into the city (City of Winnipeg, 2010).

Water use also has implications for city infrastructure. Cities across Canada have aging water delivery systems, which results in losses during distribution. In 2010, 15.4 per cent of Winnipeg water was unaccounted for, much of this due to leaks (City of Winnipeg, 2010). Homes and businesses are also part of the built environment, and can contribute to reduced water consumption by installing water-efficient appliances and fixtures.

Water consumption is also a basic need. Humans need roughly 50 litres per person per day to meet their basic needs (i.e., drinking water, bathing, sanitation and food preparation) (Gleick, 1996). Winnipeg uses far above that; in 2009, the average water use was 301 litres per capita per day (City of Winnipeg, 2010). This number is slightly lower than the Canadian average. However, Canadian per capita usage is higher than every other country in the world except the United States (Environment Canada, 2011).

The City of Winnipeg (2011) provides a number of residential water conservation tips on their water conservation website: http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/water/conservation/tipsResidential.stm

Measurement and Limitations

The water consumption rate is calculated as the average number of litres used per capita per day in the City of Winnipeg. These data have been available for each year since 1921 (City of Winnipeg, 2010).

The data presented here include all metered water use in the City of Winnipeg, including business, industry, etc.

Data Source

Data are provided by the City of Winnipeg’s Department of Water and Waste: http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/water/conservation/consumptionReport.stm

Data is updated on Peg as it becomes available from the data providers.


Barlow, M. (2007). The global water crisis and the coming battle for the right to water. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

Brown, L. (2011). World on the edge: How to prevent environmental and economic collapse. New York, NY: Earth Policy Institute.

City of Winnipeg. (2010). 2010 water consumption summary report. Retrieved from http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/pdfs/water/2010WaterConsumptionSummaryReport.pdf

City of Winnipeg. (2011). Water conservation: Residential water saving tips. Retrieved from http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/water/conservation/tipsResidential.stm

Gleick, P.H. (1996). Basic water requirements for human activities: meeting basic needs. Water International, 21, 83-92.

Morris, T.J, Boyd, D.R., Brandes, O.M., Bruce, J.P., Hudon, M., B. Lucas. . . Phare, M. (2007). Changing the flow: A blueprint for federal action on freshwater. The Gordon Water Group of Concerned Scientists and Citizens. Retrieved from http://www.poliswaterproject.org/sites/default/files/ChangingtheFlow_1.pdf

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. (2009). The 3rd United Nations world water development report: Water in a changing world. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3/

Zubrycki, K., Roy, D., Venema, H.D., & Brooks, D. (2011). Water security in Canada: Responsibilities of the federal government. International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2011/water_security_canada.pdf


Water Use in the Sustainable Development Goals

Click on the SDG to reveal more information

6. Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
6. Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

6. Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.

By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

Related Water Use Targets


By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity