Summer is heating up: Level yellow outside watering restrictions now in effect

Your lawn only needs 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water a week. 

Guelph, Ont., July 30, 2019 – The City is enforcing watering restrictions for level 1 yellow of the outside water use program because a sustained period of no steady rain and little relief is anticipated in the forecast ahead.  

At level 1 yellow, lawn watering is restricted to 7-9 a.m. and 7-9 p.m. on odd or even calendar dates by address number—odd-numbered houses can water on odd-numbered dates and even-numbered houses on even dates.

“Despite last night’s rain, the hot, dry summer weather has caught up with us,” said Heather Yates, Supervisor of Water Efficiency. “Early morning and late day watering happens to be the best time of day to keep plants hydrated through this dry time. Our hope is we get the rain forecast over the next few days and see conditions improve.”

Indicators that change local watering restrictions include amount of rain, local river flows and water demands. Current hot and dry conditions, and a weather forecast predicting increased temperatures and low rainfall, are the primary reasons for the current change from blue to yellow.

The City will continue to monitor conditions and work with the Grand River Conservation Authority to decide whether more changes to local watering restrictions are needed throughout the summer.

Outdoor water uses such as tree and flower or food garden watering, running sprinklers for children’s recreational use, and at-home car washing are still allowed. At-home car washing is only allowed using a hose with a shut–off nozzle or with a bucket of water.

“Having the outside water use program reminds us to be cautious with our water use throughout the dry months of summer,” notes Yates. “We’re thankful for the participation of our residents and businesses who help us conserve water, both outside and inside, to ensure a sustainable water supply.”

Guelph is a groundwater community. Groundwater comes from rain and melted snow that seeps into open spaces and cracks in soil and rock. That means Guelph’s water supply is limited and dependent on local precipitation and is why the City promotes responsible and efficient outdoor and indoor water use at all times.

How to report a concern

To report a possible infraction of the outside water use program:

  • Call 519-837-2529
  • Fill out a report online through the How can we help you tool by clicking on the “Bylaw compliance and concerns” button.

For reasons of privacy, please don’t post pictures of private property to social media to report an infraction. Calling or completing an online request are the fastest and most effective ways to report a concern.

In level 1 yellow, the outside water use program is actively enforced by the City’s bylaw officers. Bylaw officers will issue a fine or court summons for each observed infraction.

Lawn and garden care tips


  • Set your mower blade to its highest setting and only your cut your lawn when grass is 7.5 cm (3 inches) tall; this will help your grass grow stronger, deeper roots
  • In severe drought it’s better for your grass if you don’t mow at all
  • If you water your lawn, only do so once per week, use a rain gauge and apply 2.5 cm (1 inch) at the most; if it’s rained in the past week you probably don’t need to water at all
  • Use oscillating sprinklers that shoot water low to the ground instead of fan­–style sprinklers which lose more water to evaporation and wind


  • Use mulch in gardens to keep soil moist; add 7-10 cm (3-4 inches)
  • Use a soaker hose or watering can to water plants at their roots and reduce water lost to evaporation
  • Water first thing in the morning; watering at night can lead to plant disease
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants native to the area


Media contact

Heather Yates, Supervisor, Water Efficiency
Water Services, Environmental Services
519-822-1260 extension 2831