Watering Restrictions

As of July 5, 2023, Stage 3 watering restrictions are in effect. 

This level of restrictions maintains the even and odd day watering framework as in Stage 2, while asking residents to further reduce water use to avoid a future watering ban.  

The City supports the Province's call for practicing water conservation, particularly with discretionary outdoor water use. Here are some ways residents can take action in Stage 3:

  • Temporarily stop lawn watering. Lawns naturally go dormant (golden) in the summer months and return to green with fall rains.

  • Reduce lawn watering by decreasing run times, cutting back on the number of watering days and refraining from sprinkling certain lawn areas.

  • Avoid washing vehicles or boats unnecessarily, unless for safety reasons (windows and headlights).

  • Sweep outdoor surfaces such as driveways or decks with a broom rather than using a hose or power washing.

  • Repair inefficient or leaking irrigation systems.

  • Add topsoil and compost to aid in landscape water retention so you can decrease sprinkler run times.

The City of Nanaimo is monitoring water demands, available reservoir storage, environmental flow releases and will continue to assess these trends throughout the summer to ensure all demands are met sustainably.

Watering Restrictions in other neighbouring jurisdictions vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as water demands, water supply source, the severity of drought conditions and the availability of water resources.

Balancing water conservation efforts with other considerations is crucial in order to achieve a sustainable and equitable approach to water management.

To view the current Water Restriction Stage for Nanaimo, and how you can conserve water, see www.teamwatersmart.ca.

Region-Wide Watering Restrictions 2023

Water Restrictions

Exemptions for water restrictions:

  1. Newly seeded or sodded lawns: contact Public Works at 250-758-5222 for a 14-day permit to water outside restricted days.
  2. Permits to start new lawns may not be issued for Stages 3 or 4.
  3. New trees and shrubs can be watered any time for the first 24 hours following planting, and then must comply with the current Stage restrictions for time and day.
  4. Vegetable gardens or fruit trees can be watered at any time, but we ask that people strive to follow the current Stage restrictions.
  5. Hand-watering of flowers, shrubs, ornamental trees or hanging baskets can be done at any time during Stages 1 to 3, and only between 7-10 AM or 7-10 PM during Stage 4.  Hand-watering includes using a hose with a nozzle, or watering can.
  6. Micro or drip-irrigation (less than 20 gallons per hour at less than 25 psi) can be done at any time during Stages 1 to 3, and only between 7-10 AM or 7-10 PM during Stage 4.  Please note soaker and weeper hoses are not micro- or drip-irrigation.
  7. Businesses which need water for normal business activities (i.e. power washing or window washing companies, car dealerships, car washes, nurseries, turf farms, tree farms, etc.) are exempt from all Watering Restriction Stages;
  8. Commercial properties may vary hours of use with annual written permission from the Director of Public Works.
  9. Public services and utilities may vary hours of use as required to accomplish maintenance and upkeep of public installations; 
  10. School and municipal playing fields may vary hours of use as required to maintain sports field infrastructure.


The alignment of watering restrictions across the entire region will help avoid confusion among residents, and assist in communicating to customers.

 Highlights from the new framework include:

  • Stage 1 provides flexibility for less-stressed systems to still participate in the framework.
  • Stage 2 limits use in an easy to understand and operationally sound way.
  • Stage 3 requests further voluntary reductions prior to implementing a ban, enabling residents to choose where they cut back – the focus is on lawns, and providing an opportunity to defer a comprehensive ban.
  • Stage 4 bans non-essential water use – particularly automated sprinkling, vehicle washing and outdoor surface washing – when supplies are stressed and voluntary reductions beyond Stage 2 are not sufficiently decreasing demand.
  • Vegetable watering is exempt from all restrictions. Drip irrigation and hand-watering are also exempt from the Stage 4 ban, but restricted to permitted times.
  • Exemptions for commercial enterprises which require water to facilitate normal business, essential municipal infrastructure (i.e. select playing fields), nurseries and tree farms are also included in the proposed framework, to minimize economic impact while ensuring water supplies are conserved. This helps avoid the challenges in applying the bylaw.

Contact Us

Public Works Department 250-758-5222

Last updated: July 6, 2023

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