Dan Olivieri with the parks department fills a watering bag hung on a newly planted tree in Maple Ridge.

Be green this summer by letting your lawn go yellow

Sprinkler restrictions are in place and neighbours are tattling on each other in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Homeowners in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows bent on keeping their grass green could face stiff fines as the municipalities step up patrols this summer to catch violators.

In addition to patrols, people are happy to report neighbours who are breaking Metro Vancouver’s water conservation policy, which limits residential lawn sprinkling to three mornings per week between 4 and 9 a.m.

Pitt Meadows bylaw officer Leslie Elchuk fields an average of two complaints a week, while Maple Ridge received nine calls about violators since the restrictions came into force June 1.

Both municipalities, however, are reluctant to hand out fines, which start at $100 in Pitt Meadows and $75 in Maple Ridge.

Every summer, water use almost doubles while rainfall is at its lowest in Metro Vancouver.

One lawn sprinkler uses as much water in one hour as 25 toilet flushes, five loads of laundry and five dishwasher loads – combined.

“People are usually pretty good about following the restrictions,” said Elchuk, who prefers to get people to comply by educating them.

One vigilant resident even called Elchuk to complain about city properties breaking the bylaw after he spotted a lawn being watered outside the caretaker house in South Bonson.

The caretaker’s lawn had been seeded recently, but the parks department had not applied for a permit to water it.

“Even though they are a city department, they still need to get a permit,” said Elchuk.

Metro Vancouver broke the record for the sunniest and driest July this year.

The hot spell has been a blessing and a bit of a burden for the parks and recreation department.

It meant staff had to increase watering to protect sand-based sports fields, but could cut back on mowing lawns.

Newly planted trees that are not close to homes have “watering bags,” which slowly drip water into the ground.

Parks staff have also put tags on trees or door knobs to ask residents to help out.

“If you can give us a slow trickle from the garden hose or dump a five gallon of water on new boulevard trees during times like this, it would help,” said manager of parks and open spaces Geoff Mallory.

The big bonus of the hot weather – all the spray parks are full.

“The kids are just loving it,” Mallory adds.

Lawn sprinkling regulations are in effect from June 1 to Sept. 30.

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