The City of Merritt this morning is announcing new watering restrictions, as a provincial drought continues on. Under the new Level 4 watering restrictions, which come into effect today (August 3), residents are limited to watering once per week in most cases.

Under city bylaws, Level 4 watering restrictions limit lawn watering to once per  week. Vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs, and flowers can be watered twice per week as needed using a manual or automated watering system, or any time if hand watering or by drip irrigation system. All hoses must have an automatic shut off valve.

“Water restrictions are put in place to manage water usage and preserve fish habitat, particularly in the Coldwater River,” said the city in a release. “The Coldwater River is a ‘losing reach’ or ‘sinking river’ where incoming water drains into the city’s aquifers, effectively reducing water levels in the Coldwater River and causing stress to fish habitats.”

Washing is prohibited under the restrictions unless ordered by a regulatory authority, or if washing vehicle windows for safety reasons. Merritt’s two commercial car washes remain open at this time. Bulk water usage is limited and restricted to those with previous usage rights. Pools and hot tubs can no longer be topped up at this time under the new rules. 

Although the city is still allowing the watering of lawns one day a week, they noted that residents are encouraged to consider letting lawns to go dormant. Many grasses can stay dormant for up to four weeks without causing long-term damage.

“The City of Merritt is also practicing Level 4 watering restrictions on city-owned property,” noted the release. “This includes limiting watering to one-day per week and hand watering gardens as necessary. Contractors that require water for construction are required to bring in their own bulk water, rather than using city water. Merritt Fire Rescue is also limiting their water usage to essential needs only.”

Even numbered addresses are now permitted to water on Friday only, with odd numbers taking their turn on Tuesday. Those living in strata complexes and mobile home parks are asked to water according to their unit number. Manual sprinkling is permitted between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and automated irrigation between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. 

At a July 21 meeting, City Council passed amendments to the city’s Outdoor Water Conversation Policy, which were made after consultation with the Policy Review Committee. The changes include:

  • Modification of the requirement to strictly adhere to the Province of B.C.’s Drought Information Portal, thereby enabling the city to respond to the unique needs of the community.
  • Changes to the watering days and times. Namely in Level 3, even numbered addresses are now Thursday & Sunday. And in Level 4, residents are now limited to watering with a manual sprinkler one time a day: 6 a.m. – 8 a.m.
  • Strata complexes were included with mobile homes, which should water in accordance with their unit number.
  • A new graphic chart was created to help enhance clarity of the watering restrictions.

For more information on the city’s watering restrictions, visit their website at www.merritt.ca/watering.