Water Restrictions: Advocacy Letter from WCTA to Metro Vancouver with Response


From: Nimet Alibhai 
Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 9:43 AM
Subject: RE: Activation of Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Response Plan - July 20

Dear  Mr. Rousseau,

Thank you for taking the time to email us with the issues that you have raised. The improvement to reservoir levels from the recent rain exceeded expectations and is very encouraging. We’re monitoring and modelling the revised supply conditions carefully and expect to provide a revised guidance following the Labour Day weekend. We’ve seen substantial improvements in reservoir levels last week – up from 53% on Monday morning August 31st to 60% on Tuesday morning September 1st.

Metro Vancouver’s Water Shortage Response Plan attempts to minimize the impact on businesses; however, your feedback as a representative of your industry is extremely valuable to us and will be considered as part of our review process for future improvements. Metro Vancouver staff will be reviewing the current Water Shortage Response Plan and in the coming months staff will be providing recommendations for future improvements to the plan.

To provide some context, the Water Shortage Response Plan was developed in 1993 and updated in 2011 to help manage demand for drinking water during the dry summer months when water consumption is at its highest levels. Stage 1 of the plan is automatically implemented every year from June 1st to September 30th and fortunately, our water supplies have been sufficient to get us through most summers and we have rarely been required to escalate to higher stages. This year however, we were required to escalate to Stage 3 and at a much earlier stage in the summer than ever before and this has subsequently provided Metro Vancouver and our member municipalities with the opportunity to further test the interpretation and implementation of the entire plan.

Once again, your feedback is extremely valuable and I do appreciate the time that you have taken to prepare your email. Please be assured that your comments and suggestions will be taken into consideration as we review the Water Shortage Response Plan in the coming months.

Kind regards, Nimet

Nimet Alibhai
Technical Advisor, Policy, Planning and Analysis Water Services
t. 604-436-6720

From: Jerry Rousseau [mailto:exec.director@wctaturf.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 03, 2015 11:28 AM
To: Nimet Alibhai 
Subject: RE: Activation of Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Response Plan - July 20

Hi Nimet,

On behalf of the 700+ plus Western Canada Turfgrass Association members, we recommend you move from Stage 3 water restrictions to Stage 2 or preferably, Stage 1.  We make this recommendation based on the following:

-substantial recent rainfall events that have taken pressure off the municipal water supply.
-cooler temperatures, less daylight and less evapotranspiration means turf irrigation requirements are relatively low.  Weather forecasts predict this will continue.
-it’s is a busy time for landscapers, golf courses, sportsfields and sod growers, all of whom require actively growing turf for their operations which necessitates irrigation, especially in areas of new construction and renovation.  This window is relatively short, lasting only until fall rains make it too wet to proceed, typically mid-October.

While we understand conservation is of utmost importance, based on the current situation there is absolutely no need to maintain the Stage 3 water restrictions.  Doing so is a political exercise only that creates unnecessary hardship for our members.

On the subject, I have attached a ‘Benefits of Turfgrass’ poster, recently released by the Canadian Turf Research Foundation, a charitable organization fostering turfgrass research and development and urge you to take a quick look.  Unfortunately, lawns and turf have gotten a bad rap from municipal governments and environmental groups alike based on an assumption that grass is purely aesthetic.

This is simply not true and while it’s another conversation entirely, a different paradigm where turf and lawns are considered beneficial to the urban environment is required, enough so to keep them actively growing during hot periods using careful irrigation practices just like we would with trees, shrubs and flowers.  Interestingly, turf beats all other plant material when it comes to things like oxygen production and carbon sequestration but most people just aren’t aware of that. 

So you know, the WCTA and our allied groups will be increasing our ‘benefits of turf’ advocacy efforts in the very near future so that municipal leaders are making water restriction decisions with all the facts in hand.  Municipal staff can assist by having a better understanding of the roles turf plays in our urban environment and helping educate the public on these benefits.  We also hope to work together to become global leaders in smarter use of our water resource versus implementing arbitrary and arguably, unnecessary water restrictions. 

Thank you Nimet.  I look forward to your reply.


Jerry Rousseau
Executive Director Western Canada Turfgrass Association
www.wcta-online.com (604) 869-WCTA toll free fax: 1-866-366-5097

From: Nimet Alibhai [mailto:Nimet.Alibhai@metrovancouver.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 5:01 PM
Subject: Activation of Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Response Plan - July 20

Good afternoon,

This is to inform you that pursuant to the provisions of the Greater Vancouver Water District Act, Stage 3 of the Regional Water Shortage Response Plan has been activated effective as of 4pm yesterday July 20, 2015.

This means residential and non-residential lawn sprinkling is prohibited and includes all in-ground sprinkler systems.

For your reference, please find attached information on the activation of Stage 3 of the Regional Water Shortage Response Plan - 

• Media Release titled “Metro Vancouver Ramps Up Water Restriction To Stage Three”  dated Monday July 20, 2015; • DECLARATION OF ACTIVATION OF STAGE 3 OF THE WATER SHORTAGE RESPONSE PLAN

A link to the media release on the Metro Vancouver web site is also provided below. 


The GVWD Commissioner issued the attached Stage 3 Declaration on July 20, 2015.  Stage 3 restrictions are in place until further notice. A link is provided below: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/water/WaterPublications/GVWDDelcarationofActivationofStage3oftheWaterShortageResponsePlan2015July21.pdf

Attached, and/or as a link, are public outreach materials and supporting information.

1. comprehensive Water Shortage Response Plan, and the shortened version, at-a-glance WSRP 2. Updated website, including the Reservoir Levels & Daily Consumption page that will be updated to show daily consumption. 3. New postcards are available for sharing with your customers. You can print your own (attached file prints 4 per page) or request postcards be sent to you by calling the Metro Vancouver Information Centre at 604-432-6200.

Please contact me if you have any further questions.

Regards, Nimet

Nimet Alibhai
Technical Advisor, Policy, Planning and Analysis Water Services
t. 604-436-6720