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Editorial: It's time to kiss green lawns goodbye

The esthetic of a green lawn is simply no longer compatible with the realities of our bone-dry summers
A contracted tree pruner sets up water cannons for the City of Vancouver at MacLean Park. Water restrictions now prohibit residential lawn sprinkling. | Stefan Labbé / Glacier Media

All of Metro Vancouver is now under Stage 2 watering restrictions. Our drinking water is the envy of the world and yet some choose to squander it, dumping it onto the ground around their homes.

Many are quick to dismiss watering restrictions as an austere measure targeting the little guy while industry and golf courses are allowed open taps. Businesses, at least, support livelihoods. A green lawn supports nothing but someone’s ego. About 40 per cent of residential water consumption happens in the summer months.

We could spend billions building up dams to ensure we have enough supply, or millions installing water meters for every home. But today, enforcement against the “grassholes” with the verdant plots is scant and the fines are far too small to change the behaviour of people with pockets deeper than our reservoirs.

In West Vancouver, where every property already has a water meter, almost 1,000 homeowners were sent letters warning them their consumption was more than four times the local average.

We need the province, our municipalities and our regional government to acknowledge that the esthetic of a green lawn is simply no longer compatible with the realities of our bone-dry summers and target restrictions and enforcement accordingly.

A single hour of lawn sprinkling uses as much water as 25 toilet flushes, five loads of laundry and five dishwasher loads – combined. If this drought escalates to a crisis – as most climate-related things do these days – we’re going to wish we’d saved every last drop.

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