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Water Conservation – Outdoors

About 70% of total water consumption happens outdoors in the summer time, mostly due to sprinkler use on lawns. Sprinkler or soaker hose use on other landscaping can also contribute to the high summer demand.

SPRINKLING RESTRICTIONS BYLAW 324

Stage 1  – (Sept 2/18 – June 30/19*)

Irrigation Type: Sprinkler or soaker hose for lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers & vegetables
Address / Days: Even # / Tues, Thurs & Sat
Address / Days: Odd # / Wed, Fri & Sun
Hours Allowed:
 5am – 8am & 7pm – 10pm

Irrigation Type: Hand-held hose with automatic shut-off nozzle, micro or drip irrigation**
Address / Days: All homes regardless of address / Any day
Hours Allowed: Any time


STAGE 2 – (July 1/19 – Sept 1/20)

Irrigation Type: Sprinkler or soaker hose for lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers & vegetables
Address / Days: Even # / Tues & Sat
Address / Days: Odd # / Wed & Sun
Hours Allowed:
 6am – 8am & 8pm – 10pm

Irrigation Type: Hand-held hose with automatic shut-off nozzle, micro or drip irrigation**
Address / Days: All homes regardless of address / Any day
Hours Allowed: Any time

SEE Bylaw 324 summary for other exceptions and permits.


STAGE 3 – An emergency measure that over-rides Stage 1 & 2.

No new lawn permits will be issued during Stage 3.

Irrigation Type: No Sprinkler, soaker or weeper hose any time

Irrigation Type: Hand-held hose with automatic shut-off nozzle, micro or drip irrigation**
Address / Days: All homes regardless of address / Any day
Hours Allowed: 6am – 8am & 8pm -10pm


WATER-WISE LAWN CARE 

1.Raise your lawn mower to 2.5 – 3”, this reduces evaporation from the soil and stress to the grass.

2. Check your soil quality and depth. If less than 8” of loam:

a.      Top dress lawn with ¼ inch compost or loam in spring and fall

b.      Leave grass clippings behind as mulch

c.       Adjust your sprinklers to a cycle and soak method (e.g. 5 – 10 minutes on/off/on/off etc.)

 

3. Add no more than 1” water per week including rain.

a.      Use a can (e.g. tuna) to measure how much your sprinkler delivers per 10 minutes and adjust watering accordingly). Grass cannot absorb more water than that.

b.      Consider investing in a smart controller that can be set from your cell phone

c.       Switch your older timer for a newer model than can adapt to the new water restrictions

4. Use these key techniques for keeping lawns green and healthy on little or no water

a.      Add lime in spring (and/or fall). Rainfall increases soil acidity and grass thrives in a near neutral environment.

b.       Aerate your lawn in spring to reduce compaction and improve water penetration

c.       De-thatch if thatch layer is thicker than ½”. A thin layer of thatch is beneficial for your lawn

d.      Install lawns in spring or fall, rather than in the heat of summer

e.      Consider “going gold”: Not watering your lawn over summer. If you raise your lawn mower, amend your soil, lime and aerate, your lawn will stay green longer, even without watering.

5. Installing, scheduling and maintaining irrigation systems

Consult an Irrigation Industry Association of BC (IIABC) certified irrigation professional for up-to-date advice on installing, scheduling and maintaining water-wise irrigation systems. They can help you with:

a.      Choosing the best system for lawns vs. beds (sprinkler system or micro/drip irrigation)

b.      Selecting a timer that works on watering restrictions and can be programmed via your cell-phone

c.       Advice on irrigation scheduling

d.      Information on smart controllers that adjust watering to account for rain

e.      Proper yearly and monthly maintenance of irrigation systems

f.        If doing your own annual service:

i.      In the spring:

1.      Reset timers, ensure they work

2.      Adjust for new bylaw sprinkling restrictions

3.      Add a rain sensor or smart controller

4.      Set irrigation schedule according to established monthly Evapotranspiration for this area to avoid wasting water in spring and fall

5.      Check for blocked or misaligned sprinkler heads

6.      Check for leaks

7.      Test backflow prevention valves and check valves

g.      Turn system on monthly to check for:

i.      Wet/dry patches indicating plugged nozzles

ii.      Arc that is watering roads or driveways

h.      Patterns of irrigation on your driveway or road indicate one or more of your sprinkler heads are no longer correctly aimed or may be blocked.

i.        Don’t forget to turn system off in the fall and blow your lines out.


Water-wise for other landscaping

Environment Canada predicts that the effects of human-induced climate change have already been observed in Canada. These effects include:

  • Longer growing season
  • More heat waves and fewer cold spells
  • Thawing permafrost
  • Earlier river ice break-up
  • Increase in precipitation over large parts of Canada, more snowfall in northwest Arctic
  • Earlier spring runoff
  • Earlier budding of trees

See http://ec.gc.ca/sc-cs/Default.asp?lang=En&n=A5F83C26-1&pedisable=true#_s01.

The following sections provide advice on reducing water consumption, especially if summers continue to get hotter and drier.

Install micro- or drip irrigation systems
If properly installed and scheduled, micro-, or drip irrigation systems will irrigate garden beds, shrubs and trees using much less water than a traditional above ground or automatic sprinkler systems. Consult IIABC certified professionals to ensure the installation is done correctly.

Mulch
Mulch is key to water conservation

Non-organic mulching materials can be used, but in order to improve the depth and health of soil, organic material is best. Organic mulching includes:

  • Chipped hard wood (preferred, as breaks down faster) or soft wood trees using the whole tree (except cedar)
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Peat moss (non-renewable resource, explore alternatives)
  • Wood chips
  • Straw
  • Cardboard, newspaper

Landscape with native or drought tolerant plants
Given the predictions for longer, drier summers, consideration should be given to landscaping with native or drought resistant plants.

Consider using trees, shrubs, flowers that are adapted to the conditions of the region: Warm, dry summers and wet, cool winters.

Contact knowledgeable staff at local garden stores or contact the water hotline by email (water@srd.ca) or at 250-203-1820 or for information on resources available.

Other outdoor use

  • Wash vehicles, boats, windows, buildings and driveways using a hand-held hose with automatic shut off nozzle
  • Sweep driveways instead of rinsing – rinse just to keep dust down
  • Use a pressure washers instead of a hose: pressure washers use 50 – 80% less water than a garden hose
  • Fill pools or hot tubs to within 15 – 20 cm from the top. Cover when not in use