Red line shows the trend in Metro Vancouver water reservoir levels so far this year.

Metro Vancouver toughens water restrictions as reservoirs drop

Regional district bans pressure washing, limits lawn sprinkling to once a week

Metro Vancouver has imposed stage 2 water use restrictions throughout the regional district to conserve drinking water in light of declining reservoir levels.

The stored water supply in the regional district’s reservoirs is down to 79 per cent of their capacity as of June 28.

That number has declined rapidly to record low levels for this time of year as a result of weeks of hot, dry weather and the quick melt of a meagre snowpack.

“We’re really into uncharted territory when were outside that normal range,” said Tim Jervis, Metro Vancouver’s water services general manager.

READ:Water Shortage Response Plan for details on restrictions.

The tougher restrictions under Metro’s Water Shortage Response Plan mean a drop to once-a-week-only sprinkling of lawns – Mondays from 4 to 9 a.m. for even-numbered addresses and Thursday mornings for odd-numbered addresses.

Watering of school yards, sports fields, park lawns, cemeteries, boulevards and golf course fairways are also limited to minimal levels, in most cases once a week.

Stage 2 restrictions also mean a ban on the use of pressure washers and other hosing off of outdoor surfaces, with limited exceptions, such as health and safety or preparing a driveway for painting or sealing.

Only water play parks with user-activated switches are now allowed to operate.

Decorative water fountains will also be shut down, but hand-operated drinking water fountains won’t be affected.

Hand watering of flowers, vegetable gardens and trees is still allowed.

Metro Vancouver member cities are expected to begin enforcing the new restrictions by Monday (July 6) under their own bylaws in response to the Metro declaration, which was issued Friday. Bylaw enforcement officers would first issue warnings, then fines, if necessary.

Other exemptions to the sprinkling restrictions apply in situations where newly seeded lawns must be watered or chafer beetle treatments have been applied.

Stage 2 restrictions are expected to remain in place until Sept. 30.

And the regional district could go further and impose stage 3 or 4 restrictions if required.

Jervis said the region will carefully gauge how reservoir levels respond to the stage 2 measures.

At stage 3, all lawn sprinkling is banned, and hot tubs and pools can’t be refilled.

At stage 4, all watering of plants with treated drinking water is banned, all car washes, water parks and public outdoor pools shut down, and many other water uses are allowed only if ordered for health and safety reasons.

Stage one restrictions are the standard rules that run from June through September allowing thrice weekly early morning lawn sprinkling.

Metro officials are urging residents to take whatever additional steps they can to help conserve.

“We have never had May and June this dry,” Metro utilities committee chair Darrell Mussatto said. “It’s important we use our water wisely.”

The last time Metro went to stage 3 restrictions was in 2003, the year of the Kelowna wildfires, and more restrictive local restrictions were imposed in the Surrey area in 1997-98 after a water main under the Fraser River failed.

Water Shortage Response Plan by Jeff Nagel