Hundreds of water warnings issued

City hands out 262 notices, 12 letters but no fines

City staff are monitoring homes that may be disobeying sprinkling ban.

Despite a few drops of precipitation over the last week, Abbotsford and Mission remain under restrictions that prohibit lawn sprinkling. But not everyone has been following the rules, and the communities are trying to make sure residents do their part to save water.

The lawn sprinkling ban was implemented on July 3 in Abbotsford and Mission.

Since then, the City of Abbotsford has given out 262 door-hanging notices indicating a first offense for those breaking the restrictions. The notices aim to educate residents about water use. The city also issued 12 warning letters for second offenses and has yet to issue a fine.

While the city doesn’t keep track of complaints, staff estimate there have been more than 100 about people breaking regulations and about 10 complaining about the water restrictions.

Although the region received some rain, a Level 4 drought was declared this week across the Lower Fraser area.

In Mission, about 200 notices have been handed out, with 45 written warnings issued and one $100 fine.

The communities have also hired summer students to help find people who are still using their sprinklers.

While the lawn watering restrictions have lowered water use, the lack of snow pack and precipitation this year have brought communities’ water sources to such low levels that more restrictions could be possible this summer.

At a meeting of the Joint Shared Services Commission, which includes councillors from Abbotsford and Mission, staff said that in a worst-case scenario, Stage 4 water restrictions could be implemented in mid-August.

If the community hit Stage 4, all forms of lawn watering will be prohibited, as well as a ban on the use of city water for flower gardens, pools, fountains, washing cars or boats, and more.

For commercial operations, such as car washes and golf courses, and city properties, such as sports fields, the use of treated water would be at the discretion of the city engineer.

Some councillors noted at the meeting noted that currently, residents can still spray water their driveways, but cannot sprinkle their lawns – a rule that confuses many. Staff said the communities will move towards a revised bylaw next year to address some of those concerns and provide clearer regulations.

Residents who are in the Clearbrook Waterworks District or use well water are not required to follow the restrictions. The committee also expressed support for sending private sector operations looking to fill tankers to head to Clearbrook.