Water Use Restrictions
This page provides information on:
- Current water restrictions by jurisdiction
- Details of regional water use restrictions
- Water restrictions FAQ
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 three 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.
Water Use Restrictions
Local governments use 3 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 apply to the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan, 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.
Stage 1 and Stage 2 sprinkling times are 7:00am – 9:00am or 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Sprinkling 2 hours maximum on odd or even dates. EVEN numbered houses on even dates; ODD numbered houses on odd dates.
EVEN numbered houses: Wednesday and Saturdays only as per the adjacent chart.
ODD numbered houses: Thursdays and Sundays only as per the adjacent chart.
Hand-watering / Micro drip irrigation lines only.
Please check the local newspaper or each water provider’s website during the summer months to see if Stage 2 or Stage 3 restrictions are in effect.
Exemptions – Water Restrictions
Nurseries, turf farms or tree farms; School and Municipal playing fields; Sprinkling permit holders (obtained from your water provider); Car dealerships; and other commercial enterprises which require water use to facilitate normal business activities (e.g., power washing companies, window washing companies, etc.) unless ordered otherwise by the local government.
(hand watering with a spring-loaded nozzle, watering pail or bucket)
(Micro or Drip Irrigation)*
* Micro or drip irrigation delivers water to the root zone of the plants and uses less than 20 gallons per hour at less than 25psi. Weeper hoses are permitted. Soaker hoses are not permitted.
** 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.
*** Washing driveways, houses, or sidewalks is only permitted during Stages 2 and 3 for preparation of applying paints, preservatives or for pouring concrete
CVRD Water Systems
Municipal Water Systems
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)
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 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, flowers or vegetables on any day of the week during Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 water use restrictions. It is suggested that watering take place between 7-9 am and 7-9 pm 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 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 Stage 1 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 where the lawn will be grown from seed. Sprinkling or Garden Irrigation Permits will not be issued during Stage 2 and Stage 3 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 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 as micro/drip irrigation but soaker hoses are not. A soaker hose has holes emitting water at all angles around the hose which operate at full pressure resulting in more evaporation. A weeper hose emits water through pores in the rubber and does not spray into the air resulting in better water efficiency.
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 at any time of day for a maximum of 4 hours per day during water restriction stages 1, 2 and 3.
What's the difference between a weeper and a soaker hose?
A soaker hose has holes emitting water at all angles around the hose which operate at full pressure resulting in more evaporation. A weeper hose emits water through pores in the rubber and does not spray into the air resulting in better water efficiency.
Soaker hoses must follow the rules for sprinklers (2 hours per day between 7-9 am or pm during stage 1 and 2; not allowed in Stage 3). Weeper hoses are considered micro or drip irrigation and can be used for up to 4 hours per day in all stages.
Why 7 – 9 am and 7 – 9 pm?
Watering during the morning and evening reduces the amount of evaporation that occurs from the lawns, sprinklers and soil.
Can I hose down my house or other outdoor surface?
Stage 1 allows outdoor surfaces including houses to be hosed down; Stage 2 and Stage 3 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 is 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.
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
Engineering Services Department
Telephone: 250.746.2530 or 1.800.665.3955
City of Duncan
Municipality of North Cowichan
Town of Ladysmith
Town of Lake Cowichan
Public Works and Engineering