The region's water reservoirs are down to 69 per cent. Residents are still using too much water. There are no heavy rains predicted for at least another three months.
That reality has prompted Metro Vancouver to implement Stage 3 water restrictions to get to under 1.2-billion litres used a day. That means no lawn sprinkling at all; no refilling or topping up pools, spas and ponds; no home carwashing; and no garden watering except with a hose that has a spring-loaded control.
As well, Metro will be posting daily numbers on how much water the region's more than two million residents are using – to drive home the message about the need for everyone to play his or her part.
"As citizens, we need to own this together," said Greg Moore, the chair of Metro Vancouver and mayor of Port Coquitlam.
The last time the region had to impose these kinds of restrictions was in 2003.
Mr. Moore said Metro is using the same Environment Canada information and modelling as BC Hydro and it all shows the same thing: "There's not a lot of precipitation in our future." There may be some shower bursts, but that's nowhere near enough to replenish reservoirs, he said. It's just being soaked up instantly by dry ground and parched plants.
Commercial car-washing operations are allowed to continue, at least until the next stage, because they have systems in place to filter and re-use water from their operations, he said.
Residents and businesses did manage to reduce their water use, after the region put in Stage 2 restrictions three weeks ago – allowing lawn sprinkling only twice a week, among other measures – lowering the volume used from 1.6-billion litres a day to 1.35. But to make it through to the heavy fall rains that will replenish reservoirs, the area needs use to go under 1.2 billion a day.
The Stage 3 ban on refilling private pools doesn't mean all local pools will dry up instantly. Joe Taylor, the owner of Bright Pools, said that properly maintained private pools can be kept clean and usable for quite a while. They will lose about an inch of water to evaporation a week, which can now no longer be replaced, but it will take some time before they drop to unswimmable levels.
Public pools can still be refilled under the current level of water restrictions.