Water Restrictions

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Updated Restrictions for 2022

Following an extremely dry and warm summer that included a “heat dome” event, changes to the Metro Vancouver Drinking Water Conservation Plan were passed to help reduce demand and ensure all residents of the region have reliable access to drinking water. Notable changes include:

  • Lawn watering limited to one morning per week
  • The method of watering (automatic or manual) now determines when a property may water their lawn
  • All lawn watering is prohibited if Stage 2 restrictions are declared by Metro Vancouver or the Township’s General Manager of Engineering.

All water delivered to your home is drinking water. The Township of Langley’s Drinking Water Conservation Bylaw 2018 No. 5321 restricts non-essential uses of water in four stages, consistent with Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan:

  • Stage 1 (currently in effect) – automatically implemented every year from May 1 to October 15
  • Stage 2 and 3 – used in times of extended drought or when facing a water supply issue
  • Stage 4 – reserved for emergency situations

Activation of stages 2 through 4 are determined by Metro Vancouver or the General Manager of Engineering based on reservoir levels and expected rainfall and/or snow melt. During all stages, residents must ensure:

  • All hoses have an automatic shut-off device (ex. spring loaded nozzle)
  • When watering lawns or gardens (as permitted), water must not unnecessarily run off impermeable surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, or curbs
  • Hoses and taps must not run unnecessarily
  • Irrigation systems must not be faulty, leaking or misdirected

Water Exemption Permits

New Lawns

Properties establishing a new lawn by sod, turf, or seed that wish to water additional mornings must obtain a Water Exemption Permit. A permit is valid for 21 days from the start date, with one possible renewal, and must be displayed at the property. Water Exemption Permits for the purpose of establishing a new lawn are subject to fees.

Treatment of European Chafer Beetles

Properties experiencing an infestation of the European Chafer Beetle that wish to treat the affected lawn by applying nematodes can apply for a Water Exemption Permit to allow watering on additional days. Water Exemption Permits for the purpose of applying nematodes to treat European Chafer Beetles are not subject to fees, however, proof of nematode purchase or hiring of professional treatment services is a requirement for issuance.

Apply for a Water Exemption Permit online.

What is automatic vs. manual lawn watering?

Automatic watering is a method of watering that requires minimal human intervention that may include the use of timers, sensors, computers, or mechanical devices that enable someone to set the system to water lawns on prescribed days and/or times. Examples include irrigation systems or sprinklers attached to a watering timer.

Manual watering is a method of watering that requires human intervention such that watering would not occur without human involvement at the time watering is desired to occur. Examples include a traditional sprinkler attached to a faucet turned on by hand, watering lawns by handheld hose, etc.

 

Click on each of the stages below to see stage specific restrictions.

Lawn Watering

Lawn watering is permitted one morning per week based on address.

Residential

  • Even addresses – Saturday
  • Odd addresses – Sunday
    • Automatic watering – 5:00 – 7:00am
    • Manual watering – 6:00 – 9:00am

Non-residential

  • Even addresses – Monday
  • Odd addresses – Tuesday
    • Automatic watering – 4:00 – 6:00am
    • Manual watering – 6:00 – 9:00am

Unless watering in accordance with a valid Water Exemption Permit.

Gardens

Watering garden beds, shrubs, trees, and flowers by handheld hose, soaker hose, watering container, or drip irrigation is permitted on any day at any time during Stage 1. Watering these areas by sprinkler is limited to specific hours.

Residential

  • Garden sprinkling permitted any day, 5:00 – 9:00am

Non-residential

  • Garden sprinkling permitted any day, 4:00 – 9:00am

Areas designated for growing edible plants such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. may be watered by any means on any day at any time during Stage 1


Other Uses

The use of water for other non-essential purposes such as topping up fountains, pools, or washing cars is permitted during Stage 1, however, everyone is encouraged to only use what is necessary.

Stage 2 restrictions are activated during periods of extended drought or there is a water supply issue. During Stage 2, watering is permitted as follows:

 

Lawn Watering

Lawn watering is not permitted when Stage 2 restrictions are in effect. Water Exemption Permits shall remain valid until they expire, however, they may not be renewed and new permits will not be issued.

Unless watering in accordance with a valid Water Exemption Permit.

 

Gardens

Watering garden beds, shrubs, trees, and flowers by handheld hose, soaker hose, watering container, or drip irrigation is permitted on any day at any time during Stage 2. Watering these areas by sprinkler is limited to specific hours:

Residential

  • Garden sprinkling permitted any day, 5:00 – 9:00am

Non-residential

  • Garden sprinkling permitted any day, 4:00 – 9:00am

Areas designated for growing edible plants such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. may be watered by any means on any day at any time during Stage 2.

 

Pressure Washing

During Stage 2, pressure washing is prohibited except for health and safety reasons, to prepare a surface for painting or similar treatment, and for aesthetic cleaning by a commercial operator.

 

Pools & Fountains

Topping up or filling fountains or ponds is prohibited in Stage 2. Filling hot tubs and pools is still permitted.

Stage 3 watering restrictions are reserved for periods of severe drought.

 

Lawn Watering

Lawn watering is not permitted and any Water Exemption Permits are invalidated.


Gardens

Watering gardens, trees, shrubs, and flowers via sprinkler or soaker hose is prohibited in Stage 3.

Watering via handheld hose, water container, or drip irrigation is still permitted any day at any time.

Edible plants may continue to be watered via any means at any time.


Pressure Washing

Washing impermeable surfaces is prohibited except for:

  • Health and safety reasons
  • To prepare a surface for painting or similar treatment


Pools & Fountains

Topping up or filling pools, hot tubs, and fountains is prohibited in Stage 3.

 

Vehicles and Boats

Washing vehicles and boats during stage 3 is prohibited except to clean windows, lights, mirrors, license plates, and boat engines for safety.

Commercial vehicle washes must observe restrictions based on the date the facility became active and their wash system installed.

Lawn Watering

Lawn watering is not permitted.

 

Gardens

Watering gardens by any means is not permitted. This includes edible plants.

 

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is not permitted unless ordered by a regulatory authority for a health and safety reason.

 

Pools & Fountains

Filling of pools, hot tubs and fountains is prohibited.

 

Vehicles and Boats

Only windows, lights, mirrors, license plates, and boat engines may be washed for safety reasons. No other washing may occur.

See a summary of Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan.

Reporting a concern

Reports of watering outside permitted times should be submitted to the Engineering Division by calling 604-532-7300 or e-mailing opsinfo@tol.ca. Please include the following information when contacting us. Reports of watering violations missing any of the information below will be considered incomplete and not responded to.

  • Your name and contact details
  • Address of property observed actively watering
  • Date(s) and time(s) of watering
  • Location of watering (e.g. front lawn, back garden, etc.)
  • Method of watering (e.g. in ground irrigation system, sprinkler and hose, etc.)

Photos and/or videos of observed watering are appreciated to help staff in their investigation.

Learn more about what to do if you think a neighbour is watering outside of permitted times.

Watering Restrictions Frequently Asked Questions

Water use increases by up to 50% in the summer, primarily due to lawn watering. Restrictions around water use help ensure drinking water isn't wasted.

Water usage from sources not connected to the municipal water supply is exempt from the bylaw, as private well water is under Provincial jurisdiction. However, we encourage all property owners to be good environmental stewards and follow water use restrictions. A mix of groundwater and purchased Metro Vancouver surface water is used in the Township. Water restrictions are in place to protect our shared drinking water to help ensure a continued source of water for all.

Yes, sports playing fields and school fields also have watering restrictions during Stages 1, 2, and 3 of the Drinking Water Conservation Bylaw 2018 No. 5321. Some fields have a sand base for year round use, allowing higher water infiltration and faster drainage to accommodate wet winter months. Due to this sand base, these playing field do need to water during the summer to prevent drying out and potential die-off. The use of sand base fields is consistent with other local municipalities.

Township of Langley staff are aware of water conservation, and only water to the extent required for facility maintenance. The majority of parks and playing fields use an automated watering system connected to a computerized central irrigation system. The computerized system uses local water data to calculate the evapotranspiration rate. The system then applies a measured amount of water to the soil to maintain specific soil moisture. Generally, parks and playing fields receive infrequent watering, but for longer periods of time, to force the turf to grow longer roots. Longer roots make turf more durable and resilient.

All Township spray parks implement the following water conservation features:

  • Reduced flow components operate with less water.
  • Push button activation so parks do not operate when no one is present.
  • Sequential programming so not all park features are on at the same time (which helps limit water usage).
  • Timed operation so the park cannot be activated during off hours, as well as the water sequence turning off minutes after each button activation.

And almost all Township spray parks handle runoff through surface swales and channels to allow off-gassing of chlorine before the water is diverted into natural watercourses where it:

  • Provides additional stream flow during low-flow seasons in connected watercourses and increases fish habitat.
  • Lowers water temperature in connected creeks and streams to improve fish habitat.
  • Provides more opportunities for aquifer recharge through natural watercourse systems.

 

If you know your neighbour, you may wish to have a quick chat with them to ensure they have the right details for this year's watering restrictions. Feel free to mention the Township’s Water Restrictions website address with them so they can find more information online: tol.ca/waterrestrictions.

Otherwise, call our Engineering team at 604-532-7300 to place a service request regarding watering outside of permitted times. The team will be able to assist best.

Although a healthy lawn only requires one hour of watering per week, Metro Vancouver has observed some properties watering their lawns any time watering is allowed, regardless of how much water is actually needed. The new automatic vs. manual distinction helps ensure those with automated systems do not leave their systems on for hours on end. Differing times for automatic and manual watering are implemented to help control overall demand on the distribution system while recognizing those watering by manual methods must get up to turn on their sprinklers.

The summer of 2021 brought an extended period of extreme heat and sun to the Metro Vancouver region leading to a significant increase in water use. In 2021 the region consumed in excess of 1.5 billion litres of water per day for a period of 40 consecutive days. On average, water consumption exceeds this threshold for only 14 consecutive days. The increase in water use during the summer months is primarily due to increased lawn and garden watering.

Stage 2 restrictions were avoided in 2021 in large part due to a larger than normal snowpack. This resulted in an extended melting period which helped avoid the need to move to Stage 2 Restrictions. As climate change makes weather patterns and in turn supply less predictable, it’s important to reduce consumption of drinking water to ensure adequate supply for every year.

Lawn watering is prohibited in the evenings as this is a period when demand for water is highest for other household activities such as washing clothes or showering. Evening watering has been prohibited for over a decade.

Being Water Wise

Want to keep your lawn healthy all year while using less water? Metro Vancouver’s Waterwise Lawn Care guide provides advice on actions to take at different times of the year to promote a healthy lawn while reducing water use.

Remember, your lawn only needs one inch or one hour of watering per week – including rain! You can also let your lawn go golden and become dormant over the summer. Rest assured, it will become green again when the fall rain returns.

Want some other water wise tips for the summer?

  • Use a watering timer to have your sprinkler turn off after an hour
  • Sweep patios, decks, and driveways with a broom instead of the hose
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. They’ll help trap moisture to reduce evaporation, and break down to feed your lawn naturally
  • Water vegetable gardens in the morning, near the roots, and by hand
  • When water restrictions finish for the season, continue to conserve water delivered to your home by looking for indoor opportunities to save water.

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