What are the benefits of Water Conservation?

Water Conservation and demand management continue to be important components of the management of the water supply. The benefits of lower demand are:

  • Capital project delay - Less water being used by the community can delay the need to build new water infrastructure that would be necessary to provide increased capacity if demand continued to increase.
  • Fisheries releases - In addition to the water used by customers, water from CRD water reservoirs is released to enhance fish habitat in the Sooke River, Charters River and Goldstream River.
  • Buffers against the unknown - Having as much water storage in the reservoir as possible provides the assurance that not only will there be a sufficient quantity of drinking water for the year, but it also provides the flexibility to deal with changing weather and precipitation patterns.
  • Water quality - Less annual fluctuation in Sooke Lake Reservoir water level contributes to a more biologically stable reservoir, through less opportunity for sediment re-suspension and nutrient loading, and longer water detention time within the reservoir (which has a number of resulting benefits such as lower turbidity, low colour, neutral pH, low bacteria, and low parasites).

During what months is the Stage 1 Water Conservation Bylaw in effect?

May 1 through to September 30 every year, unless otherwise stipulated by the Regional Water Supply Commission.

When does the Water Conservation Bylaw 4099 not apply?

Bylaw 4099 does not apply to properties not connected to the Sooke Lake Reservoir Drinking Water Supply system; properties receiving water from private wells or private irrigation water source; Federal and First Nation lands.

It also does not apply to outdoor areas that may be required by law to be cleaned to comply with health or safety regulations.

When is lawn watering permitted during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

Lawn watering is only permitted twice a week under the following schedule for residential, commercial and institutional properties:

Even numbered addresses may water lawns Wednesday and Saturday from 4am to 10am and 7pm to 10pm.

Odd numbered addresses may water lawns Thursday and Sunday from 4am to 10am and 7pm to 10pm.

*In the case of a multi-unit commercial or residential complex such as, but not limited to, a townhouse, condominium or other strata-titled property, means the numerical portion of the street address that is assigned to the entire complex, and not the individual unit number.

Can I install and water new sod or a newly seeded lawn during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

Yes, but only with a permit, if you are establishing lawn for the first time.

Permits will only be issued where there has been a new lawn installed. Permits are not issued for reseeding, over seeding, patch repairs, or top-dressing. New sod can be watered on installation and during the first 21 days after installation; newly seeded lawns until growth is established or for 49 days after installation, whichever is less, but only during the prescribed Stage 1 lawn watering hours of 4-10am and 7-10pm.

Please call Water Conservation at 250.474.9684 to apply for a permit. The permit application is not available online. Permits are free of charge and available as a one time only application.

When can I water my trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

You may water your trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables at any time on any day if watering is done by a Micro/Drip irrigation system, a hand-held container or a hand-held hose equipped with a shut-off device. Otherwise, you may use a sprinkler or irrigation system (note that soaker hoses are considered to be a sprinkler) during the prescribed hours for Stage 1 lawn watering.

When can I water my newly planted trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

You may water your newly planted trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables by any method during installation and for the following 24 hours. After this time, the designated times of 4am-10am and 7pm-10pm must be followed when using a sprinkler device, irrigation system or soaker hose.

What is a Micro/Drip Irrigation system?

“A Drip/Micro Irrigation system is defined as using low volume irrigation components (using under 20 gallons per hour) operating at low pressure (under 25PSI) to deliver a precise amount of water to the root zone of the plan material they are irrigating."

Are there any Exceptions to Stage 1?

An owner or occupier of property, who, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, is unable to water their lawn or turf within the designated days and times, and whose property is not equipped with an automatic in-ground irrigation system, may water their property on any two days during Stage 1, for a maximum of nine hours per day.

The owner or occupier must contact CRD Water Conservation each year to register and obtain written confirmation of this exemption.

We have had a lot of rain and our reservoir is at capacity. Why conserve?

During winter months, water consumption across Greater Victoria averages around 100 million litres per day. In the summer months, even with Stage 1 water restrictions in effect, water consumption across Greater Victoria more than doubles to around 230 million litres per day. Since the reservoir receives little to no inflow (rainfall) between May and late October when fall and winter precipitation begins, this increase summer consumption draws down the reservoir level, meaning Greater Victoria's drinking water supply relies entirely on the water stored during the winter months. Starting conservation in May, early in the peak demand season, has meant that the CRD hasn't needed to implement Stage 2 or 3 water restrictions since the Sooke Lake Reservoir dam was raised in 2002.

Does the decrease in water demand affect my wholesale water rate?

In recent years, overall annual water demand has been decreasing across the region, primarily due to decreasing indoor demand related to the increased use of high-efficiency appliances and low-flow fixtures, and to a lesser extent, decreasing outdoor demand. However, over the last two years, overall water demand across the region has exceeded the expected demand, resulting in additional revenue for the Regional Water Supply Service. As a result, the CRD was able to hold the wholesale water rate in 2017 at the 2016 rate of $0.6375 per cubic meter. The wholesale water rate is the rate that the distributors' (municipalities) pay for the water. The distributors (municipalities) then set the retail water rate that the residents and businesses pay - the wholesale water price accounts for about 40% of the price charged by the retail water suppliers.

My neighbour is not using water in accordance with the bylaw. How do I report this offence?

You may report an offence of the Bylaw to CRD Water Conservation at 250.474.9684.

What are the penalties faced when a person contravenes Bylaw No. 4099?

A person who contravenes this bylaw commits an offence, and is punishable in accordance with the Offence Act, and on conviction, in addition to the penalties prescribed under the Offence Act, is subject to the following minimum fines:

(a) for an offence under Section 3(3) of this bylaw, a minimum fine of $200 plus costs if the offence is committed during Stage 1, $300 plus costs if the offence is committed during Stage 2, $400 plus costs if the offence is committed during Stage 3, and $200 plus costs if the offence is committed when no Stage is in effect; and

(b) for an offence under section 3(4) of this bylaw, a minimum fine of $100 plus costs for each offence under Stage 1, $200 plus costs for each offence under Stage 2, and $400 plus costs for each offence under Stage 3.

Can I power wash sidewalks, driveways or parking lots, exterior windows or exterior building surfaces during Stage 1 of the Water Conservation Bylaw?

Yes. You may use drinking water to power wash sidewalks, driveways or parking lots, exterior windows or exterior building surfaces using no more than necessary to complete the task.

Power-washing, using water from a hose, or otherwise applying or using water in a manner that constitutes excess water use is prohibited and in force at all times of the year.

What about Municipalities and Public Authorities Lawn and Boulevard watering?

Municipalities may water lawns and boulevards on Mondays and Fridays during the hours of 1am to 10am and 7pm to 10pm.

All Public Authorities may water public, institutional or community playing fields* during the hours of 1am - 10am and 7pm - 10pm on any day. Watering outside the allowed times will result in a permanent loss of plant material.

All Public Authorities may water trees, shrubs, flowers & vegetable gardens at the times and in the manner prescribed under Stage 1.

*Public, institutional or community playing field means grass, sod or turf covered grounds that are owned, maintained or operated by a public authority, or by a private institution such as a private school and are designed to be played upon, or that are used for sporting or other community events and activities, but for certainty does not include a lawn or turf on private residential property.

Can I wash my vehicle or boat during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

Yes. A person may wash their vehicle or boat anytime using a hand held container or hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle, and at car dealerships or commercial car washes.

When may Golf Course Owners and Operators water?

During Stage 1, golf course owners and operators may water fairways on any day, but only during Stage 1 prescribed times of 4am-10am and 7pm-10pm.

Golf greens and tees many be watered on any day if failure to do so will result in permanent loss of plant material.

Trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables grown on golf courses may be watered in accordance with Stage 1 designated times.

Does the Water Conservation Bylaw apply to Nurseries, Farms, Turf or Tree farms?

Nurseries, farms, turf farms and tree farms are exempt from the Water Conservation Bylaw 4099.

Can I use water to fill my wading pool, swimming pool, hot tub, or garden pond during the Water Conservation Bylaw for Stage 1?

Yes. You may use water to fill wading pools, swimming pools, hot tubs, or garden ponds.

What is the capacity of the Sooke Lake Reservoir?

The capacity of the Sooke Lake Reservoir is 92.7 million cubic meters or 20.4 billion gallons.

With the expansion of the Sooke Reservoir, why are Water Conservation Bylaws necessary?

There are two main reasons: Firstly, to ensure that long-term safe and reliable water supplies are available for the future needs of Greater Victoria, water conservation is an integral component of the CRD Integrated Water Services Strategic Plan for Water Supply. On average there is only a 80% chance that the reservoir will fill in any year, so the expanded reservoir level is now at its optimal height for the runoff from winter rains. Developing a new source, such as the Leech River would be very expensive, possibly over $100 million. Therefore, water conservation programs, including water conservation bylaws, prolong the need to construct such expensive infrastructure expansions.

Secondly, we do not have exclusive rights to the water in the Sooke Drinking Watershed. Under Federal and Provincial legislation, we cannot take water from the Sooke Watershed without consideration of ecological impacts downstream of the dam. To meet these requirements, an agreement was negotiated between the CRD, the Federal and Provincial Governments and the T’Sou-ke First Nation to share this limited resource.