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Gold is the new green: Why Port Coquitlam is asking residents to dry out their lawns

Port Coquitlam residents that abide by current water restrictions are set to be rewarded for letting their lawns turn golden this next month.
Dry, golden patches of grass! That's the name of the game during a Port Coquitlam city-wide contest that tests residents' pledge to conserve water. | File photo

Port Coquitlam, like other Metro Vancouver communities, is under strict rules that prohibits residents from watering their lawns during recent dry spells in the region.

The regional authority upgraded to Stage 2 watering restrictions last Friday (Aug. 4) as part of efforts to conserve water.

But the city is looking to reward local homeowners' cooperation during the ban with a unique contest to find the most golden lawn in Port Coquitlam over the next month.

Water usage in the Tri-Cities typically spikes by 50 per cent in the summer and early fall as residents look for ways to cool down.

However, recent hot weather that reached the low-to-mid 30s, sometimes with humidity, has let to a higher-than-normal demand for water.

"We are taking this proactive step to ensure that our region's 2.8 million residents will have enough drinking water for essential uses for the rest of the dry season,” said Metro Vancouver chair George Harvie in an earlier statement.

The ban is set to turn almost every lawn golden brown or yellow during the restrictions.

As a result, Port Coquitlam city staff are hosting a "Golden Streets" competition and are offering prizes for water conservation, including $150 to host a block party and three $100 gift cards to local businesses.

Homeowners are encouraged to tag a photo of "maintained, but not watered" lawns by Sept. 15 on any of PoCo's social media channels — either as a neighbourhood or standalone submission.

Pictures can also be submitted online on the City of Port Coquitlam's website, where you can find more information.

Stage 2 water restrictions

  • All lawn watering is prohibited
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers can be watered by hand or using soaker hoses or drip irrigation at any time, or by using a sprinkler between 5 and 9 a.m. any day
  • Vegetable gardens can be watered at any time
  • Aesthetic water features, such as fountains, cannot be filled or topped up
  • Washing impermeable surfaces like driveways and sidewalks is prohibited except in limited circumstances
  • Non-residential properties are subject to similar restrictions on lawn and garden watering, as well as filling and topping up aesthetic water features and washing impermeable surfaces. Watering at golf courses and sports fields is reduced, but they can still water to protect these private and public assets — many use supplemental water sources or are operating under an approved member jurisdiction water management plan.
    • Water play parks may not operate unless they have user-activated switches

Ways to conserve water

  • Putting leaves and bark mulch around shrubs and trees to hold in moisture
  • Water vegetable gardens in the morning, near the roots, and by hand
  • Wash cars for safety reasons only
  • Sweep driveways or decks with a broom instead of the hose
  • Install a shut-off valve on your hose so it only runs when in use
  • Keep a jug of cool water in the fridge, instead of running the tap until it cools
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing dishes
  • Take shorter showers
  • Run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher
  • Install low-flow toilets as they account for 30 per cent of indoor use
  • When replacing appliances, choose low-flow, high efficiency options

- with a file from Stefan Labbé, Tri-City News