Outside Water Use Program
The City’s Outside Water Use Program (OWUP) has become one of the most successful and recognized water conservation programs in Ontario, thanks to the support of Guelph residents.
As many Guelphites know, Guelph is Canada’s largest community to be reliant almost exclusively on groundwater for its water supply. Since groundwater takes much longer to replenish after drought-like conditions than surface water, it’s a lot more vulnerable to overuse.
About the Outdoor Water Use Program
The OWUP was created in 2002 in response to the Ontario Low Water Response Plan. The OWUP program objectives are to conserve Guelph’s groundwater supply and protect against the impact of drought during the hot, dry summer months. Amendments to the program and by-law were later completed through a comprehensive review process in 2013. These amendments were developed to reflect changing weather patterns and a growing community.Outside Water Use By-law
The Program has three levels that affect residential outside water use. These levels are triggered by dry weather and local watershed conditions.
Level 0 Blue
Level 1 Yellow
Reduce outside use
Level 2 Red
Reduce and stop non-essential use
The Outside Water Use Program is enforced by the City of Guelph Water Services division and Bylaw Enforcement Officers.
Keep up the good work
Today, more than 97 per cent of residents recognize and follow the levels in place each summer. This overwhelming support has helped reduce Guelph’s average summer daily water use by over 18 million litres!
Lawn Watering Permit Information
Lawn watering permits issued under the Outside Water Use Program
Lawn watering permits are issued by the City of Guelph to allow permit holders the ability to water their lawns for a specified number of days outside the requirements of the Outside Water Use By-law. There are two types of lawn watering permits, which differ based on the circumstances requiring special lawn watering: a Treated Lawn Permit and a New Lawn Permit.
It is important to note that lawn watering permits are valid during Outside Water Use Program Level 0 – Blue, Level 1 – Yellow and Level 2 – Red. However, should conditions persist for an extended period, all lawn watering permits may be suspended and no additional permits issued.
Treated Lawn Permits
A Treated Lawn Permit allows permit holders the ability to water lawns treated with biopesticides on any day and at any time for a period of 10 days following the treatment application date.
Biopesticides are defined in the By-law to include Class 11 pesticides, classified under the Pesticides Act as microorganisms that control pests (microbial pesticides, such as nematodes, or a pesticidal substance produced by a plant(s) containing added genetic material (plant-incorporated protectants, such as Sarritor or Fiesta).
New Lawn Permits
A New Lawn Permit allows a permit holder to water newly-laid sod or a newly-seeded lawn outside of the normal alternate day watering restrictions for a period of 30 days.
How to obtain a Lawn Watering Permit
Permits can be purchased by the registered property owner at Guelph Water Services, located at 29 Waterworks Place (just off York Road), or by calling the Outside Water Use Program at 519-822-1260 extension 2153.
Permits are valid as of the date and time of issue. Once issued, the permit will be sent to your residence to be posted in the window. There is a $10.00 administration fee for each permit. This fee can be paid in person with cash or added to your water billing account.
Even new and treated lawns should not be over watered. A good way to check if your lawn has enough water is to step on it. If your footprint is left on the grass, stop watering for the time being. Over watering can be harmful to lawn health, and can also cause water to pool and run off onto paved surfaces, which is prohibited at all times under the Outside Water Use By-law and could result in a violation.
Automatic Irrigation Systems
Improperly designed, installed or maintained irrigation systems can result in significant over-watering, excessive water consumption, and potential damage to property.
If you have, or plan to install, an automatic irrigation system, ensure your irrigation contractor is a Select Certified Irrigation Association professional, with training as a:
- Certified Irrigation Contractor
- Certified Irrigation Designer , or
- Certified Landscape Water Manager
Their training emphasizes a commitment to efficient water management.
In order to reduce the need for irrigation, landscape your yard and garden with plants that require little or no water beyond natural rainfall. You can still enjoy all the colour, vibrancy and beauty Mother Nature has to offer, while reducing your outdoor water demands. Check outHealthy Landscapes for great information on creating water–efficient landscapes.
Questions to think about for your current or proposed irrigation system:
- Do you have a rain sensor?
- Has your contractor proposed ways for you to reduce your water use?
- Do you have water efficient products such as drip irrigation and pressure regulated sprinklers?
- Is your contractor certified? To find out visit: http://www.irrigation.org/hirecertified
- Does you irrigation system layout ensure spray heads and rotary style sprinklers are not combined on the same zone?
Frequently asked questions
Additional information and the current program level will be provided to customers through the following means:
- In the City News section of the Guelph Tribune’s Thursday edition
- On our web site at guelph.ca/water
- Via the City’s social media accounts, see guelph.ca/social
- By calling the Outside Water Use Program phone line at 519-822-1260 extension 2153
- By e-mail at email@example.com
- Through local radio: CJOY 1460 and Magic FM 106.1
- On road signs located around the city
Common actions of wasting water may include:
- Permitting an irrigation system to run during a rainstorm;
- Permitting water to pool or run-off any lawn or garden through over irrigation:
- Directing water onto a paved surface, including driveways, sidewalks, or roadways during irrigation;
- Operating a fountain or pond without recirculating the water;
- Washing any vehicle or the outside of a building with the use of a hose not equipped with a shut-off nozzle;
- Using flowing water instead of dry sweeping to remove loose debris from a residential driveway, unless failure to do so would cause permanent damage or lead to unsafe conditions.
- It is important that citizens avoid these activities as the program prohibits wasting water. Engaging in water wasting activities can lead to charges under the Outside Water Use By-Law.
As outlined in the Water Supply Master Plan, the City is seeking new sources of water, building additional water storage reservoirs, and promoting water conservation and efficient use. These activities will help meet the needs of new growth. However, building additional storage is very expensive and will lead to increases in the cost of water. Customers can help reduce costs through efficient outside water use during hot, dry summer months.The City is also involved in other initiatives to decrease water demand and increase water supply:
- A water conservation and efficiency program aims to reduce 2006 daily water takings by 20 per cent (10.6 million litres of water per day) by 2025
- A program to optimize the capacity of existing City wells
- A water exploration program at the Arkell Springs well field
- A proactive leak reduction program
The City of Guelph’s Healthy Landscape Program provides information on a variety of gardening topics including drought tolerant and native plant selection, proactive landscaping maintenance practices and natural pest control alternatives. For information on the City’s Healthy Landscapes program please visit guelph.ca/healthylandscapes.An abundance of information is also available from local lawn care professionals as well as lawn and garden centres. Please consult the yellow pages directory for further information.
Letting a lawn go dormant is ok. The length of time a lawn can be dormant without killing the turf depends on grass species, soil type, depth of topsoil, exposure (sun vs. shade), slope, etc. A lawn can usually be dormant for 5-6 weeks without damaging the grass. A dormant lawn is fragile. Make sure you keep traffic off of it and stop mowing or fertilizing.If you are letting a lawn go dormant, commit to doing that. Bringing a lawn in and out of dormancy is very hard on it and exhausts its carbohydrate reserves.