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Brown is the new green during Vancouver-area drought

Forget refilling the pool; Metro Vancouver has tightened water restrictions, which means no more lawn sprinkling or washing cars at home.

Capilano reservoir supply is shrinking
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? The Capilano reservoir (shown) and the Seymour reservoir have the capacity to supply the region for just 130 days. Rights to the bigger Coquitlam reservoir are shared by Metro Vancouver and BC Hydro.

It happened only once before, during the severe drought of 2003, and it's happening again: Stage 3 watering restrictions.

Metro Vancouver, the authority that governs the water supply for 21 cities and municipalities, has banned the use of sprinklers and more, in an effort to conserve its dwindling reservoirs.

Starting Tuesday, Stage 3 water restrictions mean all forms of lawn watering for residents are restricted, although flower and vegetable gardens can still be watered by hose with a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle. 

All of B.C.'s South Coast, Vancouver Island and the Lower Fraser Valley are experiencing Level 4 drought conditions, which are rated as extremely dry and have forced the conservation measures for the area's 2.4 million residents.

UBC watershed management professor Hans Schreier told The Province last week that if the “three or four big storms” expected to refill the region’s three reservoirs don’t come and the drought continues, "we’re really screwed."

The tightened conditions also mean backyard pools may not be refilled and surface- or pressure-washing is banned, with some exceptions.

Even golf course fairways will go brown although tee areas and greens can still be watered.

The dry conditions have prompted warnings about the dangers to returning salmon in shallow rivers and have spurred over 1,100 forest fires since early April.

Stage 3 restrictions are expected to remain in place until Sept. 30. In the event of Stage 4 restrictions, all forms of watering with treated drinking water would be banned as would commercial carwashes.

— with Canadian Press files

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