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Drinking Water Conservation Plan


Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan (DWCP) is a regional policy developed with local governments and other stakeholders to manage the use of drinking water during periods of high demand, mostly during late spring to early fall, and during periods of water shortages and emergencies. The DWCP helps ensure our collective needs for drinking water are met affordably and sustainably now, and in the future.

The DWCP applies only to member jurisdictions of the Greater Vancouver Water District (GVWD) that are supplied drinking water from Metro Vancouver’s drinking water system. Jurisdictions that are not members of the GVWD are also encouraged to follow restrictions in the plan to help conserve drinking water and demonstrate leadership and consistency to water users across the region. The DWCP restrictions do not apply to the use of rain water, grey water, any forms of recycled water, or water from sources outside the GVWD water system.

The DWCP is managed through four levels of water restriction stages. Each stage of the DWCP is designed to reduce demand for drinking water through specific water restrictions which become more restrictive with higher stages. In most cases, the stages of the plan will be activated in successive order, but the stages​​​​ can also be activated immediately in any order.



Drinking Water Conservation Plan, Drinking Water Conservation PlanDrinking Water Conservation Plan

A summarized list of water restrictions for homes, businesses, governments and schools for Stages 1 to 4 is available in the Drinking Water Conservation Plan Summary document.



Drinking Water Conservation Plan Summary, Drinking Water Conservation Plan SummaryDrinking Water Conservation Plan Summary

​​Stage 1​​Stage 2 and​ 3​​Stage 4

Stage 1 reduces demand in summer months, and is automatically in effect on May 1 until October 15.

​Stages 2 and 3, activated and deactivated by the GVWD Commissioner, are likely to be activated during unusually hot and dry conditions to maximize conservation.

Stage 4 is activated and deactivated by the GVWD Commissioner during an emergency — such as an earthquake, flood, wild fire, or during severe drought — to immediately limit water use to essential needs. ​



How does Metro Vancouver move between water restriction stages?How does Metro Vancouver move between water restriction stages?<div class="ExternalClass221C84A80DB74E509EF1AC2E28E68C16"><p>​Metro Vancouver’s decision to activate or deactivate any stage is based on careful consideration of several factors including snowpack, weather, regional drinking water use trends through early spring and summer, the current volume of water stored in Metro Vancouver’s three reservoirs, and the Provincial drought level.</p><p>Extending restrictions or moving to another stage of the restrictions is activated and deactivated by the commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District (currently, Jerry Dobrovolny) in consultation with the Metro Vancouver Board Chair and Chair of the Water Committee of Metro Vancouver.<br></p></div>
Are we affected by Provincial drought announcements?Are we affected by Provincial drought announcements?<div class="ExternalClass6DFAE2554BCE4D71BC8DDE304080D44F"><p>The Province’s drought levels are separate from Metro Vancouver’s water restriction stages. The Province determines drought levels for the entire Province of British Columbia by considering factors like precipitation, snowmelt, and water levels in streams across the Province — things over which there is little control. Metro Vancouver’s decision to activate or deactivate any water restriction stage is based in part on the Provincial drought level and the short- and long-term weather forecasts, but also considers localized factors specific to the Metro Vancouver region including snowpack level, drinking water use trends, and the current volume of water stored in Metro Vancouver’s reservoirs.<br></p></div>
What is the difference between Provincial drought level stages and Metro Vancouver’s watering restriction stages?What is the difference between Provincial drought level stages and Metro Vancouver’s watering restriction stages?<div class="ExternalClass0C5830275A5E476DB162D37A6C751C9B"><h3>How the BC Government defines drought<br></h3><p>According to the provincial government, drought conditions involve a lack of rain over an extended period that results in water shortages for activities, communities, or aquatic ecosystems. Drought can be caused by a combination of factors such as low snowpack, hot and dry weather, with minimal rainfall. There is no universal standard for measuring drought.</p><p>The Provincial government uses a six-level drought classification, and focuses on managing hydrological drought. This is defined as a reduction in lake levels, a decrease of streamflow, and/or a lowering of groundwater levels over large areas. Provincial Drought levels are reported for large water basins, of which there are 34 basins across the Province.</p><h3>How Metro Vancouver determines regional watering restrictions</h3><p>Water restriction stages are determined at the regional level and vary between water suppliers across BC. Stage levels are based on local conditions, such as water use demand, weather, and water storage capacity. Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan has four stages.</p><p>Regional government decisions on water restriction stages are not required to match the Province’s levels. While Provincial drought levels are included in Metro Vancouver’s considerations when determining the activation of higher stages of watering restrictions, they are not directly correlated.<br></p></div>

Residential Lawns

​​​Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers

​​​Vegetable Gardens
​​​​ Stage 1

May 1 – Oct 1​5

​Even A​ddress
Odd Address
Automatic Watering
5:00 am 7:00 am
Manual Watering
6:00 am ​ 9:00 am

​​​​​Hand Watering
Soaker Hose
​Drip Irrigation​

​Any time​


Any day
​5:00 am 9:00 am

​Any time
Stage​​ 2

Lawn Watering Prohibited

​​​​​Hand Watering
Soaker Hose
​Drip Irrigation​

​A​ny time


Any day 
5:00 am ​ 9:00 am​

Any time
​​​​ Stage 3 ​

Lawn Watering Prohibited
Sprinklers and Soaker Hoses Prohibited

​​​Hand Watering  or Drip Irrigation 

​A​ny time

Any time
All activities prohibited in emergency Stage 4.

 Related links



Regional Watering Regulations, Regional Watering RegulationsRegional Watering Regulations
Reports and Resources, Reports & ResourcesReports and Resources
Waterwise Lawn Care and Irrigation, Waterwise Lawn Care & IrrigationWaterwise Lawn Care and Irrigation
Water Campaign Materials, Water Campaign MaterialsWater Campaign Materials
BC Drought Information Portal, BC Drought Information PortalBC Drought Information Portal
Drought Classification Systems Used in BC, Drought Classification Systems Used in BCDrought Classification Systems Used in BC

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