Metro Vancouver bans lawn sprinkling with Stage 3 water restrictions

For the first time in 12 years, Metro Vancouver has moved to Stage 3 water restrictions, which means all lawn sprinkling is now banned, along with a number of other tighter rules.

With reservoir levels at 73% and dropping, Metro Vancouver moves to next stage of water shortage plan

Lawn watering will be banned when Metro Vancouver reaches Stage 3 water restrictions, expected tomorrow. (Amanda Marcotte/CBC)

For the first time in 12 years, Metro Vancouver has moved to Stage 3 water restrictions, banning all lawn sprinkling with treated drinking water and bringing in a number of other water conservation measures.

"We are in uncharted territory, we've never had it this dry ever in recorded history," said North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Musatto, who also chairs Metro Vancouver's Utility Committee.

"So we are under great stress at the reservoirs, consequentially we have to reduce our consumption."

The move follows last week's provincial declaration of a Level 4 drought for the South Coast and Fraser Valley, which warned if supplies continued to dwindle, there could be water shortages that affect people, industry and agriculture.

Daily water consumption in Metro Vancouver has dropped from a high of 1.7 billion litres a day at the start of July, but is still too high at 1.4 billion litres a day, the regional district said in a statement.

Musatto says not enough people are taking water restrictions seriously.

"We would have liked to see less people watering their lawns," he said, referring to when Stage 2 water restrictions were put in place earlier this month. "Everyone needs to do their part to reduce our consumption."

Reservoir levels sit below 73 per cent — a level outside the normal range for this time of year.

Musatto says last week the region started diverting water in high alpine lakes into the Capilano Reservoir. He anticipates more alpine water will be diverted into the Seymour Reservoir.

"We need rain and we need it now," he said. "Three or four days of solid rain."

Earlier Monday, the regional district said the restrictions would be brought in Tuesday, but they came into effect Monday instead.

Banned at Stage 3

The restrictions only apply to treated drinking water — which for most in the region, is what comes out of the tap or hose. The rules don't apply to so-called "grey water" — defined as household waste water that does not come from toilets — recycled water or collected rain water, if anyone has any left.

Under Stage 3, the following water uses are banned:

  • All residential lawn sprinkling.
  • All non-residential lawn sprinkling.
  • All watering of unestablished lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers.
  • All outdoor washing of cars and boats, except for safety, such as windows and lights.
  • All cemetery lawn watering.
  • All refilling of private pools, spas and garden ponds.

Watering vegetable gardens, established flowers, trees and shrubs is still allowed, but only by hand using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle.

Public water parks will stay open, but only those with user-activated spray stations. The others closed when Stage 2 water restrictions were brought in earlier this month.

Commercial car washes remain open at this stage.

If the region moves to Stage 4 restrictions — the highest in the water shortage response plan — all water parks will shut down, along with commercial car washes. All hosing of outdoor surfaces and watering of flower and vegetable gardens would also be banned.

Stage 4 restrictions were last used in 1997 for communities south of the Fraser River, following a water main failure.

With files from Dan Burritt