Dry hot weather puts Guelph in level yellow for outside watering restrictions

Outdoor water use: yellow - reduce use

Guelph, Ont., May 26, 2021 – After a few hot weeks and 50 per cent less precipitation than Guelph averages this time of year, the City is enforcing watering restrictions for level 1 yellow of the Outside Water Use Program.

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.

“Consistent hot weather and no rain, especially this early in the season, means a higher demand for water,” says Karen McKeown, Outside Water Use Program Coordinator. “People are gardening, laying sod and opening pools – these all require a lot of water use. We know Guelphites care about saving water, so we encourage them to keep up the good work!”

In addition to rainfall and dry conditions, other indicators that change local watering restrictions include local river flows, how much water the community is using and how much the City is producing or pumping through the system. The City will continue to monitor conditions and work with the Grand River Conservation Authority throughout the summer to decide if water use levels need to change again, up or down.

Outdoor water uses such as watering trees and flowers or food gardens, running sprinklers for children’s recreational use, and at-home car washing is still allowed. At-home car washing must use a hose with a shut–off nozzle or a bucket of water.

Guelph is a groundwater community. Groundwater comes from rain and melted snow that seeps into open spaces and cracks in soil and rock. As temperatures rise and we experience low precipitation, our water supply infrastructure needs to work harder to keep up with demands, especially during peak water usage times. Guelph’s water supply is not unlimited and is greatly dependent on local precipitation, which 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,
  • Use the 311GIS map app, or
  • 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


  • Lawn grasses will stop growing in hot weather and should be allowed to go dormant
  • In severe drought and heat it’s better for your grass if you don’t mow at all or walk on it
  • If you have to mow your lawn, set your mower blade to its highest setting and only cut your lawn when grass is 7.5 cm (3 inches) tall; this will help your grass grow stronger, deeper roots
  • 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 and only water plants to get them established


Water conservation tips

Media contact

Karen McKeown, Outside Water Use Program Coordinator
Water Services, Environmental Services
519-822-1260 extension 2109
[email protected]