By Jeff Nagel – Surrey North Delta Leader Published: May 18, 2012 9:00 AM
Metro Vancouver residents now face possible fines if they sprinkle their lawns in the evening, in contravention of a ban approved last year by the regional board.
Enforcement of the new Metro water conservation policy, which limits residential lawn sprinkling to three mornings per week between 4 and 9 a.m., was delayed until this summer to give some cities more time to notify residents.
It’s in effect from June 1 to Sept. 30 and all area cities have now revised their bylaws to reflect the changes. But Stan Woods, a senior engineer at Metro, predicts there will be more emphasis on education than on enforcement. He said it will be up to individual cities as to how the policy is enforced and when tickets are issued.
Surrey’s bylaw provides for fines of $200 for violators.
Metro has plenty of drinking water available most of the year but wants to control peak period summer use to forestall the eventual need for more reservoirs or storage tanks. Officials say morning sprinkling is more effective because less water evaporates than during evenings.
“For the same amount of water you get much more irrigation benefit,” Woods said. “It’s much more efficient from a water usage point of view. Your air temperature is lower. Your wind speed is lower.” Metro previously estimated morning-only sprinkling would cut regional water use at peak hours by 12 per cent and by three per cent on peak days.
Although most cities were already directing residents to follow the new rules last summer, Woods was unable to say how effective the policy was in cutting use last year because of the unusually cool and rainy weather last June and July.
“We saw very low peak day demands last year but a large part of that was because of the weather,” he said.
Even-numbered addresses can sprinkle Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, while odd-numbered homes get Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Residents previously were allowed to sprinkle both mornings and evenings on two designated days. Woods said established lawns only need an hour of sprinkling a week if there’s no rain.
The rules are the first stage of Metro’s regional water shortage response plan, and only target lawns, not the watering of gardens or trees. The plan lets Metro impose tighter restrictions if water supplies dwindle – from limiting sprinkling to just once a week to an outright ban on all watering.