New water restriction rules in effect

New rules for outdoor water use are in effect, following adoption of the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) drought management plan at the May 9 board meeting.

The most significant changes have to do with tighter restrictions on lawn watering and more flexibility for farmers.

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“Summer is the time when more water is used,” said Remko Rosenboom, SCRD’s infrastructure general manager, in a release. “The regulation changes look at where we can conserve water from lawn irrigation and other lower-priority outdoor uses in order to make water available for food producing plants and trees.”

Lawn watering with a sprinkler or soaker hose at Stage 1 has been limited to two mornings per week from three mornings and evenings per week. It’s banned altogether at Stages 2,3 and 4, with some exceptions for those with new lawn permits.

A new category of restrictions has been created for commercial farms paying a metered rate, allowing crops to be irrigated at Stages 2 and 3.  Watering is banned at Stage 4.

If using a sprinkler or soaker hose to water food-producing plants, watering is allowed three times a week during certain hours at Stage 1 and twice a week during certain hours at Stage 2. Sprinkling is banned at Stage 3.

If using a hand-held hose, container, micro- or drip irrigation, watering food crops is allowed any time during Stages 2 and 3.

Flowers, shrubs and trees are allowed to be watered with sprinklers twice daily three times a week during Stage 1 and once in the mornings twice a week at Stage 2 and is banned at Stage 3.

If using a hand held hose, container or micro or drop irrigation watering is permitted any time at Stages 1 and 2 and one hour in the mornings at Stage 3.

Fines have also increased by $100 at each stage. Stage 1 fines are $200 after a warning has been issued. People will be ticketed $500 at Stage 4.

Commercial farmers must register for a metered commercial rate to be eligible under the new rules. Billing on a metered rate for commercial food producing farmers will begin January 1, 2020.

Chair and Halfmoon Bay director Lori Pratt and Sechelt director Darnelda Siegers thanked staff and directors for their work on the bylaws. “I’m hoping that it’ll see a difference this year and have an impact on the water in August and September,” said Siegers at the May 9 SCRD board meeting following the unanimous adoption of the drought management plan bylaw.

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