On Tuesday (July 21), Metro Vancouver will ramp up prohibitions on water use across the region.
The regional government has confirmed to the Straight that it will impose Stage 3 restrictions.
This will ban all forms of residential and nonresidential lawn sprinkling involving the use of treated drinking water.
"We did some new modelling and we just changed the inputs a little bit," explained Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro Vancouver's utilities committee. "In the past, we looked at the driest year that we've had with the highest water consumption."
Mussatto, also mayor of the City of North Vancouver, said that this year, the regional government assumed little or no rain until November 1. Once officials plugged that in with continued high consumption rates, the decision was made to go to Stage 3.
"I think it shows that we have a changing climate and that we had better be prepared for it," he said.
Stage 3 means that there will be no use of treated drinking water on new and unestablished residential and commercial trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Hand watering will still be permitted using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle or drip irrigation on established flowers, vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs, and trees.
Commercial flower and vegetable growers face no restrictions under Stage 3.
There will also be a prohibition on refilling private pools, spas, and garden ponds. Public and commercial fountains and water features were already shut down under the existing Stage 2 restrictions.
Under Stage 3 restrictions, people are also prohibited from outdoor washing or rinsing of motor vehicles and pleasure crafts. The only allowable exceptions are for cleaning windows, lights, and licence plates for safety reasons.
Mussatto acknowledged that the region's reservoirs are still at 70 percent of capacity, but they risk being drawn down over the next few months.
"It's not now when we need to worry about the water—it's September and October and into November," he said. "Generally, we don't get the big rains until into November, December."