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Water fixture requirement - FAQ

What is a low water use fixture?

Faucets, showerheads and toilets are just a few examples of fixtures available in low water use models. Low water use fixtures are designed to use less water while maintaining the same level of performance as older fixtures.

For more information on residential water saving fixtures, visit Water Efficient Fixtures.

What kind of low water use fixtures must now be used?

Toilets (bowl and tank) - No greater than six litres (1.6 US gallons) per flush.

Urinals - No greater than 3.8 litres (1.0 US gallons) per flush, urinals using a tank-type model will not be accepted.

Faucets and showerheads - Public restroom faucets no greater than 1.8 litres (0.5 US gallons) per minute. Renovated homes will be required to follow current plumbing codes requiring showerheads no greater than 9.5 litres per minute and faucets of no greater than 8.3 litres per minute.

Cooling Systems - Once through cooling systems will no longer be allowed, with exception of emergency backup systems for computer rooms.

Please note: All fixtures must comply with the National Plumbing Code (approved or certified by the CSA or equivalent agency). City of Calgary Inspectors will ensure requirements are followed when they complete their final inspections. Violations will be issued for non-compliance.


Plumbing Permit Required

Low water use fixtures required?

Applicable Fixtures Required

Adding new bathroom to building




All applicable low water use fixtures as noted above

Replacing an existing toilet



None. Consider a low water use toilet to save water and money

Renovating an existing kitchen

Yes but only if piping is being changed*


Faucet aerator

Renovating washroom(s) on one floor only (commercial, restaurant or school location)




All applicable low water use fixtures as noted above


Renovating a multi-family apartment(s)



All applicable low water use fixtures as noted above

* Building Permit also required

What are the benefits of low water use fixtures?

  • Lower monthly water and sewer bills
  • Efficient use of water resources for future generations
  • Reduced impact on our environment
  • Less strain on our water treatment plants

Exchanging a regular toilet which uses between 13-23 litres per flush, with a six-litre model, will result in an average savings of 10.5 litres per flush. Canadians generally flush their toilet 5 times per day, so the savings quickly add up.

Number of people occupying home

Water use with older toilet (13-23 litres toilet) per year*

Cost over one year (13-23 litres toilet)**

Water use with a six litre toilet per year

Water savings with a six litre toilet per year

Cost savings**

























* All figures are estimates based on the Canadian average of five flushes per person per day with an average flush volume of 16.5 litres.

** Costs based on (metered single family dwelling) 2005 water and sewer rate of $1.53 per cubic metre

Do low water use toilets require double flushing?

Low flow water use toilets have been redesigned since they were first introduced in North America. Today these toilets don't rely on large volumes of water to remove waste.

Referred to as Drainline Carry, recent research has scientifically proven that even without other water flow (from showers and sinks) six litre toilets can carry waste in both residential and commercial situations. Six litre toilets carry waste even when drainlines are sloped less than what is required under the National Plumbing code.

What should I look for in a low water use toilet?

Look for a low water use toilet that can adequately remove solids waste (a minimum of 350 grams per flush. See the Maximum Performance Toilet Testing Report for toilet comparisons)

Avoid toilets that:

  • Use flappers with adjustable floats
  • Use rubber flapper chains
  • Use float-arm fill valves (ballcock)
  • Have fill valves that are affected by changes in water pressure

Not all toilets are built the same. The City of Calgary participated with other municipalities in toilet testing to gain a better understanding of high performing, water saving toilets that are available in Calgary's market.

Customers looking to purchase a new toilet are encouraged to read available toilet testing data from the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association. These websites below can help you choose a high performance toilet.

Why was a low water use fixture bylaw passed?

Water in Alberta is a limited resource. Calgary's growing population, the impacts of upstream development, and the effects of climate change are putting increasing stress on Calgary's water supply, so we need to manage our water wisely. Our goal is to accommodate future population and business growth with the same amount of water we use today.

Several municipalities in Canada already have low water use fixture requirements. For example surrounding communities of Airdrie, Okotoks, and Cochrane have low water use fixture bylaws. Low water use fixtures are also part of Ontario's Plumbing Code and are required in B.C.'s Capital Regional District.