On Monday, Charlottetown city council made mandatory water use guidelines that had been voluntary for much of the summer.
Starting immediately, Seasonal Water Use Restrictions mean Charlottetown residents may only water lawns between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. or 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Watering is limited to two hours a day. Hosing down driveways, sidewalks or other hard surfaces is prohibited entirely.
Coun. Eddie Rice, chair of the city's water and sewer committee, said repeated breaking of the guidelines could lead to severe penalties.
"Where we see people [are] sprinkling lawns and they're not supposed to we'll warn them and put a notice on the door," said Rice.
"We can shut your water off."
More severe measures could be put in place at any time. The city also gave authority to the Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility to implement Water Shortage Restrictions at its discretion.
Those restrictions would ban the water of lawns entirely, as well as the filling or topping up of swimming pools and hot tubs. Car washing would be limited to once a week.
Watershed group pleased
The new guidelines were implemented after having the dryest summer of the last decade.
Even with the drenching 163.4 mm of rain Charlottetown received in the last week, rainfall at Charlottetown Airport is below normal for the period from May 1 to Sept. 10. Rainfall from May to August was only a little more than half of normal.
The city gets virtually all its water from the Winter River watershed. Cathy Corrigan, co-chair of the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, said the city has been drawing too much water. She's happy with the progress, but said more can still be done.
"I look forward to a long-term plan of water conservation because this is not just about one dry summer," said Corrigan.
"It's much longer-term conservation measures that need to take place and that would be forever, until a new water source is in place."
Earlier this summer, the city announced a deal that would allow it to drill a new well field in Miltonvale Park. The new supply of water should be in place by 2015.
For mobile device users: Is Charlottetown city council doing a good job of managing the water supply?