British Columbia

Grey skies or not, water restrictions in Vancouver start May 1

It may seem counterintuitive after such a wet April, but the city is hoping the new lawn watering rules help offset water shortages once the hot days of summer arrive.

Fines of up to $1,000 for those who use water outside allowed times

Automated sprinklers in Yaletown water grass early in the morning. The City of Vancouver has introduced new water use restrictions. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Whether it's raining or not, water restrictions kick in for the City of Vancouver on May 1, with violators facing $250 to $1,000 fines if they water outside allowed times.

It may seem counterintuitive after such a wet April, but the city is hoping the new lawn watering rules help offset water shortages once the hot days of summer arrive.

It's also trying to defer the need to pay for an expensive expansion of the city's water system by preserving water.

So, can I water?

For those who are unsure about the rules for when they can water, there is a tool on the city website that allows people to input their address and get an instant ruling about sprinkling.

The new watering bylaw aligns the city with Metro Vancouver's water conservation plan, cutting permitted lawn and garden watering to two days a week from three days.

Homes with even-numbered addresses will be allowed to water between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. PT on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while homes with odd-numbered addresses can water at those times on Thursdays and Sundays.

The restrictions come into effect on the back of an especially soggy April. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

All non-residential properties — primarily businesses — will be permitted to water at those times on Friday. Businesses can also water between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. PT on either Monday or Tuesday depending on whether the address is numbered even or odd.

Regulations in effect until Oct. 15

Hand watering, drip irrigation and using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle for shrubs, plants and trees is still permitted anytime.

But hoses must have automatic shut-off devices year round.

Violators face fines of $250 to $1,000, and the regulations remain in effect until Oct. 15.

Daniel Roberge, director of water, sewer and green infrastructure, said that reducing water usage, which can double in the summer in the city of Vancouver, could potentially defer the need for expensive expansion of its water system if it can reduce the per-person use of treated drinking water.

The region's reservoirs, like the Capilano, are well topped up — for now. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

With files from Canadian Press

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