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Delta readying for new watering restrictions, another heat dome

Property use and compliance staff will oversee enforcement of the plan
lawn sprinklers
Stage 1 of the revised water restriction includes reducing lawn, tree and shrub watering durations.

City council recently approved a recommendation by the engineering department to amend Delta’s water service bylaw to reflect changes in Metro Vancouver's Drinking Water Conservation Plan, making it tougher to water your lawn.

The regional district seven years ago updated its Water Shortage Response Plan to a new policy that manages the use of drinking water during periods of high demand and water shortages.

Member municipalities are responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance by incorporating the restrictions into municipal bylaws.

The region experienced a prolonged heatwave last summer, which resulted in sustained higher demand for water.

Metro Vancouver addressed the problem by updating the plan to include more restrictive Stages 1 and 2 to deter the need to advance to Stages 3 or 4.

While water demand would typically have reverted to normal usage after the heatwave, the region instead continued its high use trend until the end of August.

A report to council also notes significant water use was managed by higher-than-average snowpack levels in 2021 that made it possible to narrowly avoid going to Stage 2 last year.

Although various educational campaigns are used throughout the summer to encourage reduced water consumption, the sustained high water use created an urgency to address the issue of over consumption, the report notes, adding the regional district worked with consultants and member municipalities to update to the plan for implementation in spring 2022.

The updated plan is anticipated to reduce summer water demands by implementing a more restrictive Stage 1 and eliminating lawn watering in Stage 2 for residential and non-residential properties.

Soil and sand-based playing fields do not have the same restrictions as lawns and the watering of playing fields remains permitted in Stage 2.

Changes to Stage 1 restrictions, which will activated annually staring this May 1, include reducing lawn watering days from two mornings to one morning per week for residential and non-residential properties, as well as durations for sprinkler and manual watering.

Changes to Stage 2 include reducing lawn watering from one morning per week to being prohibited for residential and non-residential properties.

Golf courses are still permitted an exemption to watering restrictions in Stage 2 and 3 when operating under a city approved water management plan.

During council’s March 28 discussion on the revised plan, engineering director Steven Lan noted the city will look to increase the frequency of street tree watering in Delta.

Asked if Delta will be prepared in case another heat dome hits the region, city manager Sean McGill noted a review of equipment and resources is taking place and a plan will be in place, including for shelters and letting residents know in advance where they can go. A report will be coming to council.