By Rochelle Baker, Abbotsford Times March 30, 2012
Although it’s hard to fathom after such a rainy spring, Abbotsford residents may be facing lawn-watering restrictions this summer.
City staff is recommending council impose twice-weekly morning sprinkling from May to September to reduce peak water demand during hot weather.
Abbotsford doesn’t suffer any water shortages most of the year but peak day demand in the summer increases significantly due to outdoor water use.
The city has implemented some sort of summer water restrictions since 1995.
In 2009, a full sprinkling ban was enacted to deal with excessive heat and high water use in July and August, with a similar ban put in place for 2010.
Abbotsford’s existing water supply system limit is 143 million litres per day (MLD).
Last summer the city implemented a twice-weekly ban and found the peak day demand dropped to 93 MLD, a 13 per cent reduction from the year before.
But staff noted 2011 was an unusual year in terms of water consumption, possibly due a cool weather and rain during the summer.
Residents may still be faced with a full watering ban this summer, particularly if demand goes up in hot weather or if the Bevan Wells aren’t operating at full capacity.
The city cut the funds for sprinkler control staff and its rain barrel program to limit the 2012 budget.
However, the city still has other conservation initiatives in place such as an irrigation and landscape assessment program and low-flow toilet and washing machine rebates.
Abbotsford also recently installed Smart Meters and implemented bimonthly billing as a means to make residents more aware of their water use consumption.
But due to public outcry, council recently abandoned tiered water rates, understood to provide financial incentives to reduce consumption, and returned to its previous uniform rate system.