Running back and forth through a water sprinkler on a hot summer afternoon is one of the great delights of childhood.
But Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says Metro Vancouver appears to have inadvertently outlawed those merry moments of fun and frolic as part of the regional district’s ongoing drive to conserve water.
Metro water sprinkling rules that took effect June 1 say lawns may only be watered between 4 and 9 a.m. on designated days, a measure planners say helps control peak water use and push back costly infrastructure upgrades.
“When we were small we always had the sprinkler in the backyard,” Jackson said.
“Neighbours would come over and play and shriek and laugh when it’s hot in the sprinkler. My kids did it.”
Jackson asked at the May 24 Metro board meeting if the regulations also preclude running a sprinkler so kids can have backyard fun.
She was told it does and violators could be fined $100.
But Metro board chair Greg Moore noted Metro doesn’t enforce the water sprinkling bylaw – local cities do – so local bylaw officers could show leniency.
“I think there’s some grey room,” Moore said. “If you don’t direct your staff to enforce, it’s not Metro staff going out there.”
The Metro regulations allow early morning sprinkling for even-numbered homes on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays and odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Sundays.
The restrictions don’t apply to watering flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees.
Metro recommends lawns be watered no more than one hour a week.
Jackson said she’s not sure it would be right for a municipality to order relaxed enforcement of the rules.
And she said she doubts the early morning sprinkling rules are supported by many residents.
“I don’t know of anybody who has the ability to get up at four o’clock in the morning to attend to the sprinkler.”
Metro officials say morning-only sprinkling helps flatten spikes in water use during summer evenings, so lawn watering doesn’t also compete with uses like dishwashers, bathing and washing.
“If businesses and residents continue to conserve water during the summer, Metro Vancouver can push back the date when we have to build higher dams, bigger pumping stations and bigger water mains,” said North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro’s utilities committee.
One hour of lawn sprinkling uses as much water as 25 toilet flushes, five loads of laundry and five dishwasher loads, according to Metro.
Early morning sprinkling also means less water goes to waste from evaporation, which is faster at later times of the day.
“Why waste high-quality drinking water on lawns?” Moore asked.