Abbotsford to give water wasters fewer warnings

City moves to tighten restrictions on water use during future shortages. It will also be quicker to fine rule-breakers.

Tighter water restrictions will be imposed when the next drought hits Abbotsford.

Tighter water restrictions will be imposed when the next drought hits Abbotsford.

The City of Abbotsford will move quicker to hand out fines to those ignoring water restrictions this summer after hearing from the public that it should be less forgiving of scofflaws.

On Monday, Council approved tightening water restrictions and giving those found to be breaking the rules only a single warning before issuing fines.

Last year, snowpacks hit record-low levels and a long spell of hot, dry weather early in the summer saw a complete ban on lawn sprinkling beginning in late June. Rain has since filled reservoirs, and snowpack levels are at 82 per cent of normal, well above where they were last winter.

But during a future heat wave, responses to a water survey conducted by Abbotsford Mission Water & Sewer Commission (WSC) suggests many residents thought the city should crack down on those who breach a future water ban.

“Stricter restrictions and stricter fines,” one respondent wrote. “I still saw neighbours watering their lawn after it was banned.”

Another called for the elimination of the ability to water a lawn by hand, writing “Any lawn that is green when everyone else’s is brown should result in an instant $1,000 fine. If it doesn’t hurt it won’t make a blind bit of difference.”

Responses like those, along with an analysis of other communities’ water restrictions, led to a proposal to tighten Abbotsford’s rules.

During the first stage of restrictions, which come into place automatically on May 1, lawn sprinkling will be allowed twice a week in the mornings. A city report notes that most lawns only need one hour of watering per week. The second stage of restrictions would see lawn sprinkling reduced to once per week, with non-recirculating fountains turned off.The third-stage would ban all lawn-sprinkling, the filling of private pools, and the washing of vehicles.

Meanwhile, Abbotsford residents who breach the rules would get less leeway. Last year, the city issued two warnings to those found to be breaking the rules in the latter part of stage two. Only a single fine was handed out. This year, those breaking the rules will receive just one warning. They will then be subject to fines of between $100 and $300, depending on the water restriction stage.