Skip Header Navigation

RBC Clean Water Quiz - Text Version with Sources

Question 1

Have you ever poured used paint thinner, leftover paint, or expired medications down the drain?

  • I might have but I don't remember for sure.
  • No, never.
  • Yes, but now that I've thought about it, maybe it's not such a good idea.

If you selected Answer 1: Yikes! It's never a good idea to pour waste, chemicals or medications down the drain. It's not only bad for the environment, but takes a tremendous amount of energy and lots of chemicals to treat that water before it's released to our natural waterways or used for irrigation. Even then, it may still be polluted. Eventually, this water may find its way back into our taps, so we must clean it again -- using even more chemicals and energy -- before it's safe to drink.

If you selected Answer 2: Right on. It's never a good idea to pour waste or chemicals down the drain. It's not only bad for the environment, but takes a tremendous amount of energy and lots of chemicals to treat that water before it's released to our natural waterways or used for irrigation. Even then, it may still be polluted. Eventually, this water could find its way back into our taps, so we must clean it again -- using even more chemicals and energy -- before it's safe to drink.

If you selected Answer 3: Good thinking! It's never a good idea to pour waste, chemicals or medications down the drain. It's not only bad for the environment, but takes a tremendous amount of energy and lots of chemicals to treat that water before it's released to our natural waterways or used for irrigation. Even then, it may still be polluted. Eventually, this water could find its way back into our taps, so we must clean it again -- using even more chemicals and energy -- before it's safe to drink.

It takes water to generate energy and energy to treat water, so the cleaner we keep our water at source, the less energy required to treat it.

Water and energy: did you know?

  • About 20% of California's electricity is used to clean, treat and pump water (i)
  • It takes as much energy to treat the water used from leaving a tap running for 5 minutes as it does to keep a 60-watt light bulb burning for 14 hours (ii)

To Top To Top

 

Question 2

What do you think happens to the water that goes down your household drain or toilets?

  • I never thought about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • I think it goes somewhere to be treated.
  • I learned about this in science class but can't recall all the gory details.

If you selected Answer 1: It may be out of sight, but wastewater doesn't disappear after it goes down your drain. In most cities, it would flow through an underground sewer system to a water treatment plant. Then, it's released to lakes or rivers, or used for irrigation.

If you selected Answer 2: You're right. Wastewater from homes in most cities goes to a treatment plant. Then it's released to lakes or rivers, or used for irrigation.

If you selected Answer 3: This might help jog your memory. Wastewater from homes in most cities flows through an underground sewer system to a water treatment plant. Then, it's released to lakes or rivers, or used for irrigation.

Where does the water go?

In most urban communities, wastewater from people's homes travels through underground pipes to a treatment plant where solids and bacteria are removed. The treated water is released into a river or lake or diverted for other uses, like agricultural irrigation. Eventually, some of that water finds its way back into our taps. It's one big cycle.

Did you know?

The earth has the same amount of water now as it did millions of years ago and only one per cent of this is available for human use (iii). Water is continually recycled and reused. Shouldn't we take care of this precious resource at the source?

To Top To Top

 

Question 3

It's a hot day and your dirty car is sitting in the driveway with the words "Wash me" scrawled on its windshield. So you:

  • Go to the car wash at the first possible opportunity.
  • Go at it in the driveway with the old hose, pail and detergent - it's cheaper than the car wash and you'll burn a few calories.
  • Cross your fingers and hope for rain.

If you selected Answer 1: Good choice, since a commercial car wash probably has a system for recycling wastewater.

If you selected Answer 2: Unfortunately, the soapy water from your do-it-yourself car wash can go into the nearest storm drain and from there to the nearest waterway. Soapy water can contain harmful chemicals so maybe you can consider using biodegradable detergent or a commercial car wash that recycles wastewater.

If you selected Answer 3: Good choice, especially if you live in a water-stressed region. Some people use rain barrels to collect rain for washing cars -- with biodegradable detergent of course -- and for watering their gardens.

Chemical contamination is a major threat to water quality. Even the largest fresh surface water system on earth - the Great Lakes - is a soup of over 360 chemical compounds that can slowly poison fish, birds and mammals and could be dangerous for humans as well (iv). Certain pollutants are even considered 'gender benders', turning male fish into females (v).

Did you know?

  • One drop of oil can make up to 25 litres of water undrinkable (vi).
  • One teaspoon of weed killer can contaminate enough drinking water to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools (vii).

To Top To Top

 

Question 4

Every day dirty water and poor sanitation cause how many deaths worldwide? Would you say it's the equivalent of ...

  • 100 taxi cabs full of people
  • 100 buses full of people
  • 100 jumbo jets full of people

If you selected Answer 1: Actually, It's more like 100 jumbo jets full of passengers, or about 30,000 people -- including about 4,000 children -- dying each day (viii).

If you selected Answer 2: Those buses would have to be pretty big. About 100 jumbo jets full of passengers, or about 30,000 people -- including about 4,000 children -- die each day as a result of contaminated water and poor sanitation (ix).

If you selected Answer 3: Exactly. Sadly, 30,000 people -- including about 4,000 children -- die each day as a result of contaminated water and poor sanitation (x).

About 1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world's population, can't get safe drinking water (xi). At any given time, half of the hospital beds in developing countries are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease (xii).

Did you know?

  • On average, up to 20,000 Americans get sick every day from drinking contaminated tap water (xiii).
  • In Canada, dirty drinking water causes about 90,000 cases of illness and 90 deaths each year (xiv).

To Top To Top

 

Question 5

How concerned are you about keeping water clean?

  • Not much, I never really thought about it until now.
  • I know it's an issue that affects people in developing countries. I didn't think it affected me.
  • I'm deeply concerned about water quality today and in the future.

If you selected Answer 1: We urge you to learn more about this important issue. The more you know, the more you'll understand why people are starting to realize that water truly is one of the earth's most precious resources. For instance, in a recent poll, more than half of Canadians said water is even more precious than oil (xv).

If you selected Answer 2: We urge you to learn more about this important issue, which affects everyone, including you. Today, people are starting to realize that water truly is one of the earth's most precious resources. For instance, in a recent poll, more than half of Canadians said water is even more precious than oil (xvi).

If you selected Answer 3: There is good news. People are starting to realize that water truly is one of the earth's most precious resources. For instance, in a recent poll, more than half of Canadians said water is even more precious than oil (xvii).

To Top To Top

 

Conclusion

We have the power to preserve and protect nature's precious gift to us: clean water. It's up to everyone - individuals, industries, farms and communities-to take better care of our water.

Find out what RBC® is doing to help ensure we have safe, clean water today and tomorrow and how you can be part of the solution.

To Top To Top

 

i California Energy Commission - California's Water - Energy Relationship November 2005 Report
www.energy.ca.gov/2005publications/CEC-700-2005-011/CEC-700-2005-011-SF.PDF

ii United States Environmental Protection Agency - WaterSense
www.epa.gov/watersense/water/benefits.htm

iii a. United Nations World Water Assessment Programme - Water a Shared Responsibility, The United Nations World Water Development Report 2
www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr2/table_contents.shtml

b. GreenFacts - Scientific Facts on Water Resources
www.greenfacts.org/en/water-resources/index.htm#2

iv Environment Canada - Clean Water - Life Depends on it
www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/info/pubs/FS/e_FSA3.htm

v National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. National Institutes of Health
Environmental Health Perspectives: Statistical Modelling Suggests That Anti-Androgens in Wastewater Treatment Works Effluents are Contributing Causes of Widespread Sexual Disruption in Fish Living in English Rivers
www.ehponline.org/members/2009/0800197/0800197.pdf

vi Environment Canada - Freshwater Quick Facts
http://www.ec.gc.ca/WATER/en/e_quickfacts.htm

vii Environment Canada - Freshwater Quick Facts
http://www.ec.gc.ca/WATER/en/e_quickfacts.htm

viii a. Environment Canada - Clean Water - Life Depends on it
www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/info/pubs/FS/e_FSA3.htm

b. World Water Council - Water Crisis
www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=25&L=0%22%20onfoc%20target%3D%20title%3D%20target%3D%20target%3D

ix a. Environment Canada - Clean Water - Life Depends on it
www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/info/pubs/FS/e_FSA3.htm

b. World Water Council - Water Crisis
www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=25&L=0%22%20onfoc%20target%3D%20title%3D%20target%3D%20target%3D

x a. Environment Canada - Clean Water - Life Depends on it
www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/info/pubs/FS/e_FSA3.htm

b. World Water Council - Water Crisis
www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=25&L=0%22%20onfoc%20target%3D%20title%3D%20target%3D%20target%3D

xi World Water Council - Water Crisis
www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=25&L=0%22%20onfoc%20target%3D%20title%3D%20target%3D%20target%3D

xii United Nations Development Programme
Human Development Report 2006, Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis, page 45
http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR06-complete.pdf

xiii Clean Water Action - Protecting America's Waters
www.cleanwateraction.org/issue/protecting-americas-waters

xiv Museum of Health Care at Kingston - Death in a Glass
www.museumofhealthcare.ca/exhibits/glass/problem.html

xv Ipsos Reid January 2008 poll for Unilever, RBC and the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade

xvi Ipsos Reid January 2008 poll for Unilever, RBC and the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade

xvii Ipsos Reid January 2008 poll for Unilever, RBC and the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade