Water Conservation / Restrictions

Water is our most important resource, and ensuring that it is conserved and protected is a responsibility of every member of the community.

Water conservation has become a top priority for the City as a lack of snowpack and spring rain has reduced water levels in the Cowichan River to critical levels during the summer months.

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.

Citizens planting a new lawn or doing large landscaping and need to water outside of the Stage 1 restriction times, may apply for a Garden Irrigation Permit.

Water Use Restrictions Frequently Asked Questions

The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has implemented an interactive and very informative website on water restrictions, called “New Normal Cowichan” available here: http://cvrdnewnormalcowichan.ca/water-use-restrictions/   You will also find a detailed map to click on your area if you are unsure, the restriction level descriptions, and FAQs.

Click here for a printable version of the water restrictions chart.

STAGE 1 Watering Restrictions will begin on

May 1, 2024

Watering in the evening, night time or early morning reduces water wasted due to evaporation and reduces the peak water consumption by spreading out the use over a longer period of time.

May 1 – Oct. 31
Provincial Drought Code 3 ¹
Effective Date As Required
Provincial Drought Code 4 ¹
Effective Date As Required
Provincial Drought Code 5 ¹
Effective Date As Required
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
(midnight to 9:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. to midnight)
2 hours / day
Even Addresses – Wednesday
Odd Addresses – Sunday
(midnight to 9:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. to midnight)
Not Permitted Not Permitted
New Lawns ² 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 Irrigation ³
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 1 hour / day Not Permitted Not Permitted
New Lawns ² 2 hours / day 1 hour / day 1 hour / day
Require Garden Irrigation Permit (Permits must be obtained prior to Stage 2)
Not Permitted
Other Outdoor Water Use
Filling Pools & Hot Tubs No Restrictions No Restrictions Not Permitted 4 Not Permitted 4
Washing Vehicles or Boats No Restrictions No Restrictions Permitted Under Certain Circumstances 5 Not Permitted
Washing Driveways, Houses, Sidewalks No Restrictions Permitted Under Certain Circumstances 5 Permitted Under Certain Circumstances 5 Not Permitted
Sport Fields 6 Reduced Watering Reduced Watering, Conservation Measures Reduced or Eliminated Watering Reduced or Eliminated Watering
Private Wells, Agriculture 7 Regulated by Provincial Government (not supplied from community potable water systems)
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 homeowners, washing driveways, houses or sidewalks is only permitted during Stages 2 and 3 in preparation for applying paints, preservatives or for pouring concrete. 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.
Help Conserve Water!

By monitoring and reducing your water consumption, water meters can help decrease the amount of water you use, and can help minimize the impact on the environment and make our ecosystem more sustainable. Water meters also help identify leaks faster. Leaks can constitute a significant portion of a City’s water consumption; eliminating leaks benefits everyone.

What can I do to conserve water?

Water is lost due to leaking faucets, old water-guzzling toilets, and excessive outdoor watering.

Practice the 3Rs of Wise Water Use

  • Reduce – Become aware of the amount of water you’re using and look for ways to use less.
  • Retrofit – Replace water-guzzling toilets and appliances with more water-efficient models, or retrofit existing appliances with water-saving devices.
  • Repair – Stop the leaks! In one year, a leak of just one drip per second wastes 11.35 cubic meters of water. Running toilets should be repaired. A leaking toilet can waste hundreds of cubic meters of water a month and is the number one cause of high water bills.

The Province of BC requires all local governments to prepare plans to raise adequate financial resources to provide safe drinking water today and into the future.

  • Our water rate structure reflects the fixed costs of operating and maintaining the water system.
  • Fees pay for the fixed costs of water distribution, system safety, and long-term infrastructure replacement.
  • In addition, variable rates ensure that customers who use more water pay more, in order to encourage conservation.

To view the water use restrictions at a glance or to view the Frequently Asked Questions please click on the links below:

Water Conservation Policy
Water Conservation Tips
Water Leak Awareness Tips
Water Use Restrictions Chart
Water Use Restrictions FAQ
Waterworks Regulation Bylaw No. 3213, 2020