Watering restrictions in Metro Vancouver come into effect May 1 as part of region's water conservation efforts

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Lawn watering restrictions in the region of Metro Vancouver come into effect on Sunday and will last until Oct. 15. (Kelly VanderBeek/CBC - image credit)
Lawn watering restrictions in the region of Metro Vancouver come into effect on Sunday and will last until Oct. 15. (Kelly VanderBeek/CBC - image credit)

Lawn watering restrictions are in effect starting Sunday in Metro Vancouver, with properties only allowed to water their lawns once a week until October.

The restriction is part of the region's annual drinking water conservation plans, with the regional government saying water use spikes by 50 per cent during the summer — largely due to lawn watering.

The day on which property owners can water their lawns is determined by their property number — even-numbered and odd-numbered properties have designated days.

Both automatic watering and manual watering have to be done at specific times, which can be found on the region's website.

Lawn watering regulations in Metro Vancouver

Trees, shrubs and flowers can be watered any day of the week in the morning (until 9 a.m.) using a sprinkler, or anytime when hand watered or using drip irrigation. Edible plants are exempt from the regulations.

Malcolm Brodie, mayor of Richmond, B.C. and chair of the Metro Vancouver water committee, said lawn watering took up the "lion's share" of the region's water use during the hotter summer months.

"The reason we're going to the … sprinkling regulations is, first of all, conservation of water — which is a precious resource," he told CBC News. "You can think of many parts of the world that just don't have nearly enough."

Brodie said the region's growing population would eventually necessitate new drinking water infrastructure.

Metro Vancouver's water supply currently comes from rainfall and snowmelt in three mountain water supply areas — the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam watersheds.

"We know that even though per capita use of water is declining, the population is growing," Brodie said. "So we're going to need more infrastructure, and it's a question of when."

But Brodie said that if the region's residents are wiser in the use of drinking water right now, when the pressure on the system isn't as high, the regional district believes that infrastructure can be delayed for a "great" period of time.

An hour of rain or watering per week is all that's required for a healthy lawn, according to the regional government, which includes 21 municipalities serving 2.7 million residents.

Lawn watering is allowed under stage one of the region's conservation regulations, but is not allowed in stages two, three, or four. Brodie is confident that the region will not have to move to any of those stages this summer.

"In most summers, we'll just stay at stage one. Even with our heat dome last year, I don't think we ever got out of stage one," he said.

"I think we should have enough with stage one if everybody abides by the rules and does what is asked."

More details about the lawn watering regulations, including regional contacts, can be found on the Metro Vancouver website.

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