Water Restrictions in Vancouver Move to Stage 3

Don't be a grass-hole, please.

July 21, 2015

By Jenni Elliott

This week saw Metro Vancouver impose Stage 3 water restrictions upon the region for the first time in 12 years, in response to water reservoir levels dropping almost to below 70 percent.

While the increasing sight of brown grass is evidence of most Vancouverites’ compliance with the new regulations, “midnight hosers” who underestimate (or choose to ignore) the severity of the situation can be detected across the Lower Mainland by their lush green lawns. To date this year, the City has issued 1,400 letters to offenders, compared to only 800 letters sent out in all of 2014.

But Brian Crowe, director of water, sewers and district energy for the City of Vancouver, is cautiously optimistic about these occasional violations. “What is encouraging is that most people comply after they get a warning,” he said in an email. The low number of $250 penalties issued stands as evidence: only 30 have been doled out (as of Sunday evening).

The City has increased patrols to ensure water-restriction compliance, helped in part by vigilante Vancouverites who have taken on a self-policing attitude when it comes to water hogs. The 311 city helpline received 6,184 complaint calls between June 1 to July 20 from residents tattling on water offenders.

What does Stage 3 mean?

The restrictions below apply only to the use of treated drinking water. If you have a system in place that uses rain water, grey water, or any forms of recycled water, you’re free as a bird to keep your grass as dewy as ever.

Residential lawns: All forms of watering using treated drinking water are prohibited.

Flowers and vegetable gardens: Only if done by hand using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle, or using containers or drip irrigation. Use of sprinklers or soaker hoses is prohibited.

Private pools and garden ponds: Refilling is prohibited. (We’re looking at you, Point Grey Road.)

Outdoor car and boat washing: No outdoor washing or rinsing of vehicles and pleasure crafts, except for safety (windows, lights, and licenses only). Now would not be the time to go off-roading.

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