Water Use Restrictions

current conditions

This page provides information on:

Water Use Restrictions

Current water restrictions by jurisdiction

While the CVRD and member municipalities have co-ordinated water use restrictions across the region, some Improvement Districts and private water systems may choose to apply different restrictions. In some instances, the characteristics of certain water sources may require certain water systems or jurisdictions to move to a higher stage of water use restrictions earlier than neighbouring communities. Click on the toggles below to determine the current water use restrictions for your area.

Use the map below to see which water system serves your property and what your current water use restrictions are.

Water Restrictions Map
  • During drought conditions, your water system operator may introduce water use restrictions to conserve limited water supplies.
  • There are four stages of water restrictions which are co-ordinated across the Cowichan Valley.
  • Local conditions may sometimes require a higher stage of water restrictions on certain systems.

Legend

No
Restrictions

Stage 1
Restrictions

Stage 2
Restrictions

Stage 3
Restrictions

Stage 4
Restrictions

Unserviced Area
(Voluntary Restrictions)

Unknown
(contact system operator)

Water Use Restrictions

Local governments use 4 levels of watering restrictions as shown below.  Note that private utilities are not managed by our system – please call your provider and inquire about their conservation program and possible water restrictions. Click here for a printable version of the water restrictions chart.

Watering Regulation Summary Table

Watering restrictions have been updated for 2022. The new regulations currently apply to the City of Duncan, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Tribes, Town of Lake Cowichan, Town of Ladysmith, Diamond Improvement District, Stz’uminus First Nation, Mill Bay Water District, and Cowichan Bay Waterworks. Watering restrictions for the Municipality of North Cowichan have not yet been updated; please refer to www.northcowichan.ca/water for the regulations for North Cowichan water systems.

Sprinkling and hand-watering times are 7:00pm – 9:00am. See the table below for water days  and other restrictions.
Stage 1 Sprinkling 2 hours maximum, 2 days per week.
Stage 2 Sprinkling 2 hours maximum, 1 day per week.
Stage 3 No sprinkling. Hand-watering 2 hours maximum / Micro drip irrigation lines 4 hours maximum, all days.
Stage 4 ALL USE OF WATER FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN DRINKING, FOOD PREPARATION AND PERSONAL HYGIENE IS SUBJECT TO STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS. No sprinkling. Hand-watering, micro or drip irrigation subject to daily maximum.

Please check the local newspaper or each water provider’s website during the summer months to see if Stage 2, Stage 3 or Stage 4 restrictions are in effect.

 

STAGE 1

May 1 to Oct. 31

STAGE 2

Provincial Drought Code 3
OR As Required1

STAGE 3

Provincial Drought Code 4
OR As Required1

STAGE 4

Provincial Drought Code 5
OR As Required1

Conventional Irrigation Systems and Sprinklers

Lawns, Vegetable Gardens, Fruit Trees, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Flower Gardens

2 hours /day

Even Addresses – Wed & Sat
Odd Addresses – Thu & Sun

2 hours /day

Even Addresses – Wed
Odd Addresses – Sun

Not Permitted

Not Permitted

New Lawns2

2 hours /day

Any Day
Require Garden Irrigation Permit

1 hour /day

Any Day
Require Garden Irrigation Permit (Permits must be Obtained Prior to Stage 2)

1 hour /day

Any Day
Require Garden Irrigation Permit (Permits must be Obtained Prior to Stage 2)

Not Permitted

Hand Watering, Micro / Drip Irrigation3

Vegetable Gardens, Fruit Trees

4 hours /day

4 hours /day

2 hours /day

2 hours /day

Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Flower Gardens

2 hours /day

2 hours /day

1 hour /day

1 hour /day

Lawns

2 hours /day

2 hours /day

Not Permitted

Not Permitted

New Lawns2

2 hours /day

2 hours /day

1 hour /day

Require Garden Irrigation Permit (Permits must be Obtained Prior to Stage 2)

Not Permitted

Other Outdoor Water Use

Filling Pools and Hot Tubs
No Restrictions No Restrictions Not Permitted4 Not Permitted4
Washing Vehicles or Boats
No Restrictions No Restrictions Permitted Under Certain Circumstances5 Not Permitted
Washing Driveways, Houses and Sidewalks
No Restrictions Permitted Under Certain Circumstances5 Permitted Under Certain Circumstances5 Not Permitted
Sport Fields6
Reduced Watering Reduced Watering, Conservation Measures Reduced or Eliminated Watering Reduced or Eliminated Watering
Private Wells, Agriculture7
Regulated by Provincial Government (Not Supplied from Community Potable Water Systems)

Notes

1      The various restriction Stages will be imposed in conjunction with the corresponding Provincial Drought Code. Jurisdictions may move to a given Stage ahead of the corresponding Provincial Drought Code based on state of the water system.

2      Irrigation of new lawns must follow the restrictions for established lawns. If additional watering is required, a permit must be obtained at which point water restrictions for New Lawns must be followed.

3      Micro/drip irrigation delivers water to the root zone of the plants and uses less than 90 L/hr (20 imperial gallons per hour) at less than 25 psi. Weeper hoses are considered micro/drip irrigation, and are permitted; soaker hoses are not permitted. A weeper hose emits water through very small pores in the rubber; there is no water spray stream emitted from the hose, resulting in less evaporation than a soaker hose. A soaker hose has holes that are large enough to emit water as a spray stream, resulting in more evaporation than a micro/drip irrigation system or a weeper hose.

4      Pools filled prior to Stage 3 water use restrictions being implemented may be topped up to account for evaporation losses in order to avoid damage to pumps, etc. Municipal recreation facilities exempt.

5    For residential properties, washing driveways, houses or sidewalks is only permitted during Stages 2 and 3 in preparation for applying paints, preservatives or for pouring concrete. Residential washing (i.e. not at a car wash facility which reuses water) of vehicles and boats is only permitted in Stage 3 in preparation of applying paints or preservatives. Commercial enterprises which require water use to facilitate normal business activities are exempt from some Stage 2 and 3 water restrictions. These include nurseries, turf farms or tree farms, car wash / detailers, power washing companies, window washing companies, etc.

6      School and Municipal playing fields are often sand-based and require regular watering. For that reason they are exempt from sprinkling regulations. Regardless, efforts are made to reduce water use and the irrigation timings are adjusted to reduce evaporation and avoid times of higher water consumption.

7      If necessary the Provincial Government can require the curtailment of water use for private wells and for agricultural purposes.

CVRD Water Systems
The CVRD operates 20 water systems throughout the region (map). For specific information about any particular water system, please contact Engineering Services at 250.746.2530 or Email

System
Location
Current Restrictions
Arbutus Mountain Estates
Area B – Shawnigan Lake
Stage 1
Arbutus Ridge
Area C – Cobble Hill
Stage 1
Bald Mountain
Area I – Youbou / Meade Creek
Stage 1
Burnum Water System
Area B – Shawnigan Lake
Stage 1
Carlton Water System
Area B – Shawnigan Lake
Stage 1
Cherry Point Estates
Area D – Cowichan Bay
Stage 1
Dogwood Ridge
Area E – Cowichan Station / Sahtlam / Glenora
Stage 1
Douglas Hill
Areas C – Cobble Hill & D – Cowichan Bay
Stage 1
Fern Ridge
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Stage 1
Honeymoon Bay
Area F – Cowichan Lake South / Skutz Falls
Stage 1
Kerry Village
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Stage 1
Lambourn Estates
Area D – Cowichan Bay
Stage 1
Malahat Forest Estates
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Stage 1
Mesachie Lake
Area F – Cowichan Lake South / Skutz Falls
Stage 1
Saltair
Area G – Saltair / Gulf Islands
Stage 1
Satellite Park
Area C – Cobble Hill
Stage 1
Shawnigan Lake North
Area B – Shawnigan Lake
Stage 1
Shellwood
Area H – North Oyster / Diamond
Stage 1
Woodley Range
Area H – North Oyster / Diamond
Permanent Stage 3
Youbou
Area I – Youbou / Meade Creek
Stage 1
Municipal Water Systems

Map

System
Location
Current Restrictions
Contact
Chemainus Water System
Chemainus (North Cowichan)
Stage 1
250.746.3128 Email
Crofton Water System
Crofton (North Cowichan)
Stage 1
250.746.3128 Email
Duncan Water System
City of Duncan; Cowichan Tribes; Eagle Heights (CVRD Area E)
Stage 1
250.746.6126 Email
Ladysmith Water System
Town of Ladysmith; Stz’uminus First Nations
Stage 1
250.245.6445 Email
Lake Cowichan Water System
Town of Lake Cowichan
Stage 1
250.749.6681 Email
South End Water System
South End, Maple Bay (North Cowichan)
Stage 1
250.746.3128 Email
Improvement Districts

Map

System
Location
Current Restrictions
Contact
Braithwaite Estates Improvement District
Area C – Cobble Hill
Contact Improvement District
250.743.7211 Email website
Cobble Hill Improvement District
Area C – Cobble Hill
Contact Improvement District
250.743.2861 Email
Cowichan Bay Waterworks District
Area D – Cowichan Bay
Stage 1
250.748.1687 website
Diamond Improvement District
Area H – North Oyster / Diamond
Stage 1
250.245.5259 Email website
Meredith Road Improvement District
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Contact Improvement District
Mill Bay Waterworks
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Stage 1
250.743.9023 website
Oceanview Improvement District
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Contact Improvement District
N/A
Sunset Improvement District
Area I – Youbou / Meade Creek
Contact Improvement District
N/A
Sylvania Improvement District
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Contact Improvement District
N/A
Wace Creek
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Contact Improvement District
N/A
Private Water Systems

There are 9 private water systems providing water to households within the region. While users of these water systems are encouraged to follow regional water use restrictions, they should contact the local system operators for information on any specific regulations which may apply to their system. (map)

System
Location
Garnett Creek Water Users
Area C – Cobble Hill
Kilmalu Developments
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Knute Johnson
Area A – Mill Bay / Malahat
Shawnigan Village Waterworks
Area B – Shawnigan Lake
Millar’s Water Supply
Area C – Cobble Hill
Norseman Development Ltd.
Area F – Cowichan Lake South / Skutz Falls
Shell Beach Water Utility Ltd.
Area H – North Oyster / Diamond
Smith Waterworks
Area I – Youbou / Meade Creek
Vanland Developments
Area C – Cobble Hill

Water Restrictions FAQ

Why are school and municipal playing fields exempt from the restrictions?

These areas are often too large to be effectively irrigated within the allowed sprinkling times. Also, most playing fields are built on a sand base for better drainage. Turf grown on a sand base can die if not watered. Due to the high replacement costs of playing fields and large irrigated grass areas, the local governments currently believe it is poor use of public money to let it die due to lack of watering. Irrigation to turf is shut down in most municipal, community and regional parks during Stage 3 and Stage 4 watering restrictions. In addition, the your local governments are reducing the amount of irrigation to sports fields with limited use; however, fields must be maintained at an acceptable level to avoid liability concerns.

What about gardens, flower beds, and trees?

Residents can use a bucket, spring-loaded spray nozzle or micro/drip irrigation to water trees, shrubs and gardens on any day of the week. Longer watering times are provided for food crops such as vegetable gardens and fruit trees, while less time is allowed for ornamental plants and gardens. Watering should take place between 7pm and 9am in order to reduce evaporation and increase efficiency.

What about my car or boat – can I wash them?

Vehicles and boats can be washed at any time during Stage 1 and Stage 2 water use restrictions. To prevent the unnecessary wasting of water boats and cars must be washed with a hose equipped with a spring-loaded nozzle and a bucket filled with water. Washing is not permitted during Stage 3 or Stage 4 restrictions.

What about a newly sodded lawn?

New lawns should be planted in the spring to avoid excessive use of artificial irrigation during the drier summer months when water is limited. New lawns require a Sprinkling or Garden Irrigation Permit in order to exempt them from water use restrictions. Permits are issued at the discretion of each local government. Information can be obtained by contacting your local government (see contacts below).Permits may be issued for 21 days where new sod has been planted or 49 days where the lawn will be grown from seed.  Sprinkling or Garden Irrigation Permits will not be issued during Stage 2, Stage 3 or Stage 4 water use restrictions.

Do these restrictions apply to soaker hoses or in-ground sprinkler systems?

Yes. The restrictions apply to all sprinkling systems.  A soaker hose has holes emitting water at all angles around the hose which operate at full pressure resulting in significant evaporation.  For this reason, a soaker hose is considered a type of sprinkler system.

What about micro irrigation, drip irrigation systems and weeper hoses?

Only a system using less than 90 L/hr (20 gallons per hour) which operates at less than 25 psi to deliver water to the root zone of the plant material is considered to be Micro irrigation or Drip irrigation. Weeper hoses are considered micro/drip irrigation, and are permitted; soaker hoses are not permitted. A weeper hose emits water through very small pores in the rubber; there is no water spray stream emitted from the hose, resulting in less evaporation than a soaker hose. A soaker hose has holes that are large enough to emit water as a spray stream, resulting in more evaporation than a micro/drip irrigation system or a weeper hose.

Conservation measures for these methods of irrigation are less stringent as they reduce evaporation losses by delivering the water directly to where the plants need them as well as having significantly lower flow ratings than other methods of irrigation.  For the reasons stated above these types of systems are allowed to operate even during Stage 3 and 4 restrictions.

What's the difference between a weeper and a soaker hose?
A weeper hose emits water through very small pores in the rubber; there is no water spray stream emitted from the hose, resulting in less evaporation than a soaker hose. A soaker hose has holes that are large enough to emit water as a spray stream, resulting in more evaporation than a micro/drip irrigation system or a weeper hose. Weeper hoses are considered micro/drip irrigation, and can be used according to the Hand Watering, Micro/Drip Irrigation rules. Soaker hoses are considered sprinklers and must follow the rules for sprinkling.
Why 7 pm to 9 am?

Watering during the morning, evening or overnight hours reduces the amount of evaporation that occurs from the lawns, sprinklers and soil. Allowing watering anytime overnight helps spread the peak water demand (e.g. less sprinkling first thing in the morning when many people are showering and using water to get ready for the day.

Can I hose down my house or other outdoor surface?

Stage 1 allows outdoor surfaces including houses to be hosed down; Stage 2, 3 and 4 do not allow for hosing down of outdoor surfaces.

If I pay my taxes why can’t I water my lawn whenever I want?

Water rates and fees vary in range per year per household, depending on where you live. Increased demands in water consumption result in increased costs for pumping and treating water and eventually result in the need for upgrading of infrastructure which could increase rates substantially. Additionally, our water sources are not infinite and using less water benefits other system users and the environment that these sources support.

If I live in a strata, how do I determine my watering day?

The watering day is dependent on the address of the strata and not the unit number.

Can my kids still play in the sprinkler?

Yes, during Stage 1 and Stage 2; please ensure the water is shut off when playtime is finished. These Stages allow recreational use of sprinkling systems. Stage 3 and 4 are a complete watering ban that includes recreational use.

If there is a total sprinkling ban, will my lawn die?

Your lawn will naturally go dormant and turn brown during a hot, dry spell. A good rainfall or cooler weather may help revive your lawn. Watering lawns sparingly or not at all during the summer months saves one household up to 17,000 litres.

I can't meet the alternate day and time restrictions. What should I do?

The water use restrictions must be met; automated sprinkler systems that cannot be programmed to comply with the restrictions will have to be manually operated.

My fertilizer-pesticide-herbicide application requires watering outside my designated watering time?

It is expected that the watering restrictions will be followed. Lawn fertilization is most effective when applied in fall, early spring and late spring. Fertilizer is more likely to harm your lawn then help it during a period of drought. If you do plan to fertilize your lawn during the summer months it is best wait until the forecast predicts steady light rain.

I am not connected to a municipal or CVRD water supply. I use a private well or water source for lawn watering. Do the water use restrictions apply to me?

Water restrictions do not apply to those homes on private wells or water sources. However property owners are encouraged to be good environmental stewards and follow the water use restrictions to conserve this vital resource. Aquifers are, for the most part, interconnected with river flows or neighbouring properties water resources, therefore, the more everyone can reduce their water usage, the better.

What is considered wasting water?

Wasting water includes allowing water to run excessively or unnecessarily to waste. Some examples include:

  • Allowing irrigated water to puddle or run off a lawn into the storm drain system
  • Allowing irrigation water to be sprayed onto a paved surface such as sidewalks, driveways, roadways, curbs, or gutters
  • Washing of vehicles with a hose not equipped with spring-loaded nozzle or shut off valve at the discharge end of the hose.
Why are there exemptions for commercial enterprises?

Sprinkling regulations are meant to reduce water use in ways that do not cause serious economic hardship. Those users requiring water as part of a commercial operation are expected to conserve as much water as possible without resulting in a loss of business. In Stage 4 regulations, commercial users are expected to reduce water use to minimum essential levels.

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

Reports can be made to the appropriate local government or water district via telephone, e-mail or in person (see contacts below). Please record the address and street that the violation has occurred at as well as the time and type of violation.

How does my local government enforce the water use restrictions?

Reports of a violation are followed up by making contact with the homeowner and providing them with the details of the violation and educational materials. If non-compliance continues, operational staff will give a warning notice to the homeowner. Every person who fails to comply with water use restrictions is guilty of an offense and on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $2,000.

Local Government Contacts

CVRD

Engineering Services Department

Email

Telephone: 250.746.2530 or 1.800.665.3955

City of Duncan

Email

Telephone: 250.746.6126

Municipality of North Cowichan

Engineering Department

Email

Telephone: 250.746.3128

Town of Ladysmith

Public Works Office

Email

Telephone: 250.245.6445

Bylaw Enforcement

Email

Telephone: 250.245.6446

Town of Lake Cowichan

Public Works and Engineering

Email

Telephone: 250.749.6681

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Kate Miller, Manager
Environmental Services
Engineering Services
Cowichan Valley Regional District
250.746.2509 / 1.800.665.3955
Email

Living the New Normal

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