The reservoirs are full, but in preparation for climate change and ever-increasing temperatures, Metro Vancouver will start the first phase of water restrictions two weeks earlier than it normally does.
In November, the city decided to extend water restrictions by four weeks. Stage 1 restrictions will now come into effect on May 15 and run until Oct. 15. This will be the first time in the past decade that Stage 1 water restrictions have been extended.
Stage 1 restrictions allow residents of even-numbered addresses to water lawns between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Odd-numbered addresses may water lawns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Residents may water flowers and vegetable gardens any day by hand and must use a spring-loaded shut off nozzle to wash cars and boats.
"This year's restrictions was a result of lessons learned from the drought of 2015," said Inder Singh, director of water policy and planning for Metro Vancouver. "This was a means of being proactive relative to continued similar scenarios that could occur in the future." Mr. Singh said 2015 was an unprecedented year with records set for lack of precipitation during the summer. The situation was made worse by reservoirs that were below capacity owing to less snowpack earlier in the year.
This year, Metro Vancouver is in better shape to confront a hot summer.
"If everyone respects the sprinkling regulations, and many choose to simply let their lawns go dormant knowing they will green up in the fall, we hope to meet our conservation targets without escalating restrictions," said Darrell Mussatto, chairman of Metro Vancouver's utilities committee and Mayor of North Vancouver.
Mr. Singh said that last year some people ignored the regulations, which further contributed to the water shortage and pushed Metro Vancouver to Stage 3 restrictions.
Stage 3 restrictions restrict outdoor water use with the exception of hand-watering of flowers and vegetable gardens. Last July, the Districts of Nanaimo and Parksville had to announce Stage 4 restrictions, which restricted all outdoor water use.
The Capital Regional District, which includes the City of Victoria, imposes Stage 1 restrictions every year from May 1 to Sept. 30. The North Okanagan Region and the City of Kelowna are also currently under normal water restrictions, which are equivalent to Stage 1 restrictions in Metro Vancouver.
During the summer, Metro Vancouver consumes 1.5 billion litres of water daily – an increase of 500 million litres compared with average daily water use in the region.