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How will the North Shore handle Stage 2 watering restrictions?

Several West Vancouver residents have already received warning letters due to abnormally high water consumption this summer
All lawn watering is prohibited as of Friday, Aug. 4. | Pixabay

Much of the grass across the North Shore has browned over the summer, as the first stage of Metro Vancouver watering restrictions have relegated residents to spritzing once per week.

Yet other lawns remain manicured, pristine and green.

On Friday, Stage 2 restrictions will hit the entire Metro region, ending all lawn watering. Trees, shrubs and flowers can be watered by hand, soaker hoses or drip irrigation any time, or with sprinklers between 5 and 9 a.m. Esthetic water features can’t be filled or topped up. And washing driveways and sidewalks is prohibited in most circumstances.

While many have heeded guidance up until now – on restrictions designed to conserve our large but finite supply of drinking water – there’s evidence that some have been flouting Phase 1 restrictions that rolled out in May.

According to the District of West Vancouver, where all homes are metered, around eight per cent of residents received a letter informing them that they were using four times the typical household supply in June. Typical West Van households used 29 cubic metres of water that month, whereas 956 households consumed 115 cubic metres or more.

What are some of the most common causes of high water consumption? Lawn watering and automatic irrigation systems are two of the main culprits. While enforcement hasn’t been carried out yet, that could change.

“The district likes to take an education-first approach; however, with the Stage 2 water restrictions, the bylaw enforcement team will be responsive to any complaints and reports, and will be moving forward with a targeted enforcement approach,” said district spokesperson Carrie Gadsby.

The district is also participating in Metro Vancouver’s drinking water conservation summer support program. “As part of this program, summer support program staff are patrolling West Vancouver neighbourhoods to provide education and report non-compliant watering for the bylaw team to follow-up,” she said.

West Van residents can check their own consumption on the district website.

In the City of North Vancouver, staff read meters on commercial properties only for billing purposes, and there are only a few select residential areas that are monitored for billing purposes. But some enforcement has already been carried out.

Since May 1, bylaw staff have received 47 complaints of watering against restrictions, from the public or from staff’s own observations, according to bylaw services manager Paul Duffy.

“During Stage 1, unless the property has been subject to previous complaints, bylaw staff use the opportunity to educate the property owner,” he said.

From May 1 to August 3, CNV issued 14 warning violations and three tickets.

For Stage 2, tickets will be issued in the first instance, Duffy added.

Under the incoming restrictions, fines up to $500 can be issued per violation.