Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You - Changes to Potable Water Use in Metro-Vancouver to be Implemented May 2018

On August 10th, Metro-Vancouver circulated an update letting stakeholders know that on June 23, the Board approved revisions to the Water Shortage Response Plan (WSRP) and that the policy has a new name – the Drinking Water Conservation Plan (DWCP).

The purpose of the DWCP is to manage demand for drinking water during the summer months (low precipitation or snow melt), and if necessary during water shortages and in emergencies (earthquake or fire). 

The DWCP includes seven changes to water use restrictions across the region, mostly affecting the watering of lawns and landscapes, playing fields and golf courses, and the operation of commercial car washes and pools.

The biggest change for sports fields and golf courses is the potential to water under an approved water management plan (AWMP), in essence, an exemption from Stage 1 through 3 restrictions on the condition that water management plans result in an overall reduction in water use.

For golf courses, the news is excellent.  Similar policy used in southern California resulted in a win-win; water savings were greater than the arbitrarily restrictive approach and golf course superintendents were able to prioritize and manage their water use within the plan.

For sportsfields unaffected by previous restrictions, the news is also good.  Restrictions were coming and have been included in the new DWCP but as with golf, implementation of a water management plan will allow turf managers flexibility within a government mandate to conserve water during drought conditions by providing an overall reduction in water use.

The new DWCP will be effective on November 1, 2017, for implementation on May 1, 2018, providing local governments sufficient time to update their bylaws to reflect the new updates. 

From the DWCP:

Next Steps

A handful of local governments in Metro-Vancouver already allow the use of AWMP’s.  It remains unclear as to whether Metro-Van will encourage other municipalities to follow suit or if lobbying will be the role of industry associations and individual operators.

With that, sportsfield managers and golf course superintendents can be pro-active by approaching their local government to encourage by-law changes that allow for the use of water management plans.  They can also prepare for the changes by creating a water management plan in advance of the May 1, 2018 implementation.

CLICK HERE for a sample water management plan from a golf course