Home Organizations & Associations Capital Regional District CRD not increasing summer water restrictions past Stage 1

CRD not increasing summer water restrictions past Stage 1

Greater Victoria water conservation: indoor & outdoor water use

crd, stage 1, water restrictions, 2023
CRD (Greater Victoria area) is staying at Stage 1 Water Restrictions in summer 2023. [Unpaid Advertisement]

Tuesday July 11, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated July 15, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends

Yesterday in the face of drought throughout most of BC, the provincial advice by the Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma was to encourage people to cut back on lengthy showers and to run only full loads of washers and dishwashers, as well as watering lawns sparingly.

bowinn ma, emergency management, climate readiness
Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, delivers wildfire and drought update on July 10, 2023 from Vancouver. [livestream]

She reminded British Columbians that drought conditions started last fall, continued through winter, and are now impacting summer 2023 conditions that lead more easily to wildfires.

The 2023 wildfire season started earlier than in most previous years and is expected to last into October, said BC Wildfire Service representative Cliff Chapman yesterday, and in a BC Wildfire Update on July 5.

Water conservation:

Water conservation messaging is standard advice in any summer season, but in this continued dry hot summer people are reminded to respect the use of water. Water supply is costly to set up as a municipal utility including treatment to the standard of safe drinking water.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) always encourages conservation, says Andy Orr, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications. He points out that the province’s messaging this month is targeted more broadly for around the province.

crd, stage 1, water restrictions, 2023
CRD (Greater Victoria area) is staying at Stage 1 Water Restrictions in summer 2023. [Courtesy ad placement]

This stance at CRD seems to be underscored by the reliability of the region’s water supply system (reservoirs and distribution) not over any disregard for conserving water (which has been addressed by CRD better than most jurisdictions for over 20 years).

“With growing populations and a changing climate we need to be prepare ourselves to adapt for new circumstances,” says CRD in a 2020 report. “The first step to adaptation is to be aware of where and how we use water. Awareness will allow us to better protect and conserve our drinking water.” | See: Water Conservation at Home (CRD)

sooke lake reservoir, crd, water supply
Sooke Lake Reservoir [CRD photo]

Greater Victoria area continues on Stage 1 restrictions:

Meanwhile, in the Greater Victoria area where water is managed by the Capital Regional District (CRD), there is no anticipation of increasing the current water restrictions. CRD-serviced areas are already on Stage 1 (as is the case every year starting May 1 through September 30).

“The CRD does not currently anticipate increasing its water restrictions from a Stage 1 to a Stage 2 or 3 for the Regional Water Supply (RWS),” said CRD in a statement to media this week.

In summer months, water use in the capital region increases by 44%, mostly due to what the CRD calls “non-essential outdoor uses like lawn and garden watering”.

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Normally the fall and winter rains replenish the Sooke Lake Reservoir and that supply must last the entire year for drinking water, protection against wildfire events and droughts and support vital habitats for many endangered species.

Indoor water use:

In a CRD report published in 2011 (12 years ago), about 70% of indoor water use in the CRD area was residential, with 30% being industrial, commercial and institutional. According to the CRD, the biggest use of indoor water was for toilets (27%), with clothes washers using nearly as much (22%), followed by showers (17%) and faucets (16%). An astonishingly high amount was lost to leaks (14%). Dishwashers and baths each used about 1% of indoor water supply.

water use, greater victoria, crd, chart
Indoor water use in the Greater Victoria/CRD area. [CRD 2011]

In the past 12 years there has perhaps been more attention paid to installing low-flush toilets, using efficient modern clothes washers, and repairs to homes to prevent leaks.

As published in a 2020 CRD report, the indoor water usage in the CRD area was about 72%. The Victoria-area population uses an average of 232 litres of water per person, per day. Of all indoor water use, approximately 65% occurs in one room — the washroom. That means we are using and average of 151 litres of clean, treated tap water in the washroom everyday.

In British Columbia, less than 3% of municipal treated water is used for drinking and consumption. The rest, approximately 97%, of clean, treated tap water is flushed down the toilet, flows down the drain, or is used to wash cars and water gardens.

indoor water use, crd, instructions
How to determine your indoor water use. [CRD 2020]

Outdoor watering:

“By following the Stage 1 Watering Schedule and using water wisely outdoors, you can help save water, money, time, as well as help the environment,” it is stated on the CRD Water Conservation webpage. 

hose, watering, crd
Watering with a hand-held hose or watering can is allowed under summer (Stage 1) watering restrictions in the Capital Regional District. [CRD]

Here is the outdoor Stage 1 watering schedule from May 1 to September 30 in the Greater Victoria (CRD) area:

Even AddressesOdd Addresses
Lawn watering allowed
Wednesdays & Saturdays
4-10am and 7-10pm
Lawn watering allowed
Thursdays & Sundays
4-10am and 7-10pm
Stage 1 Water Restrictions in the Capital Regional District, each year May 1 to Sept 30
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Tips for water conservation:

  • Outdoor Water Use
  • Summary: Lawn care, collecting and recycling water, efficient irrigation systems, water wise outdoors, water wise gardens, rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling.
  • Avoid washing vehicles or boats unnecessarily, unless for safety reasons (windows and headlights).
  • Go golden. Lawns naturally go dormant in the summer months and return with fall rains.
  • Green lawns only need one inch (2.5cm) of water per week, including rainfall during the hottest, driest weeks of the year.
  • Use cycle and soak watering with three short bursts of water to allow it to seep into the soil, reducing runoff and water waste.
  • Garden with drought tolerant native plants.
  • Water wisely. Water trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens at the root and use mulch to hold in moisture – water with a container or hose with a shut-off nozzle.

  • Indoor Water Use:
  • Summary: Laundry, leak detection, bathrooms, kitchens.
  • Reduce use where you can: shorter showers; turn off the tap when during toothbrushing etc; wash full loads of clothes/dishes; reuse water from washing and cooking vegetables.

Water supply:

The CRD is the bulk (wholesale) water supplier for Greater Victoria. The Regional Water Supply (RWS) system provides treated drinking water to approximately 370,000 customers across the region through municipal or CRD water distribution systems. Within the RWS, the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution System provides drinking water to Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, View Royal, Sooke and parts of East Sooke.

crd, water use, outdoor, h homeowner
CRD Homeowner’s Guide to Outdoor Water Use.

Water for the Regional Water Supply System is currently provided from the Sooke, Goldstream and Council watersheds. The future water supply area, known as the Leech Water Supply Area, will be available in the coming decades to supplement water flow into the Sooke Lake Reservoir.

The need to move to Stage 2 or higher for the RWS has not occurred since the Sooke Lake Reservoir was raised in 2003. “The CRD is carefully monitoring water demands and reservoirs levels within the RWS very closely and will adjust water restriction stages if needed,” it was stated by CRD yesterday.

The current CRD Water Watch shows the Sooke Reservoir at 85.6% full (July 9). That’s below where things were last summer (93.9% on July 10, 2022) but higher than two summers ago (83.7% on July 11, 2021) and on par with the summer of 2020 (86.8% on July 12, 2020).

water watch, crd, july 9, 2023
Greater Victoria water supply at July 9, 2023. [CRD Water Watch]

Dry weather continues:

It’s dry out there around the Greater Victoria area. Veggie gardens watered once seem quickly dry and asking for more. Laundry hanging to dry indoors does so quite rapidly.

According to one local TV weather report on July 14, there has only been 29.4 mm of rainfall in Greater Victoria in the last 79 days compared to 27.2 mm rainfall in the first seven days of July 2022.

If there’s change, folks will know:

If there is a need to increase watering restrictions within the Regional Water Supply or the Electoral Areas, that will be communicated on the CRD website, signage within the community and via social media.

Watering gardens:

During CRD Stage 1 restrictions in summer, these are the guidelines for watering established trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens:

watering can, gardens
  • May be watered by a hand-held hose with a shut-off device or hand held container, or micro/drip irrigation system, on any day at any time.
  • May be watered with a sprinkler on any day, but only during the designated watering times 4-10 am and 7-10 pm.

The CRD Homeowner’s Guide to Outdoor Water Use is available as a downloadable PDF.

Paying attention to the type of soil in your garden could help save water. The sandier the soil, the more freely the water runs through (requiring more frequent watering). A soil rich in clay does not drain as freely and holds water near the surface.

Gardens can be watered with reused water from your kitchen (water used to rinse and cook vegetables can be reused to water vegetables in the garden — that also avoid waste of nutrients for the plants).


Gulf Islands may move to Stage 2 or 3:

The smaller water systems within the Electoral Areas of Southern Gulf Islands and Salt Spring will likely need to move to a Stage 2 or 3 at some point in the summer due to smaller lakes and reservoirs that supply the electoral areas. 

Drought working group:

The CRD says it has established a drought working group (comprised of various CRD staff), that will be monitoring drought levels throughout the summer.

jdf emergency

===== RELATED:

Premier Eby asks everyone to save water (July 13, 2023)

Collecting rainwater helps with CRD water supply (July 4, 2023)

Local government infrastructure upgrades: drinking water & wastewater (June 27, 2023)

Year-end snow boosted CRD water supply after dry fall (January 18, 2023)


mary p brooke, editor, island social trends
Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher, Island Social Trends [2018 file photo]

Mary P Brooke has been writing insight-news since 2008. Her publication series has covered news of the day through broader socioeconomic and political insights in the west shore region of Greater Victoria as well as key sociopolitical and socioeconomic issues of today’s broader society, as published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc under these mastheads: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and Island Social Trends (since 2020).

The Island Social Trends print edition (previously West Shore Voice News) launches later in July 2023, after a three-year hiatus during the pandemic years. During 2020-2023 news has been published entirely online at IslandSocialTrends.ca and this news portal will continue.

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The print-bound copies of MapleLine Magazine, Sooke Voice News and West Shore Voice News are already part of the permanent collections at the Sooke Region Museum.

Ms Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery, as part of delivering regional news on Vancouver Island.

This year, Mary P Brooke has been nominated for the Jack Webster Foundation Shelley Fralic Award to recognize a professional female journalist whose journalism makes a contribution to the community.

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