Woman watering lawn with hose

What you can do to be water wise

Waterwise challenge

Try this fun #waterwise game to learn about conserving water at home.

We have excellent drinking water, and it is important to be water wise every day by:

  • Minimizing your use of treated drinking water
    Water use doubles in the summer due to lawn and garden irrigation. Minimizing your outdoor water use is the single biggest thing you can do in the summer to save our treated drinking water for where it’s needed most: drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

  • Taking action to keep our waterways healthy and clean
    ​Whatever goes down the drain directly affects aquatic life, water quality, and the livability of your neighbourhood. Help protect our waterways by ensuring that toxic chemicals don’t go down the drain at home or in the storm sewer. 

Let your lawn go gold

Your lawn only needs one inch of water a week to stay healthy. This promotes deeper roots and a greener lawn, while using less water. Better yet, let it go dormant over the summer, It will grow back when the rain returns.

A manicured lawn uses more water and requires more time and effort to maintain than other forms of landscaping. Watering, mowing, weed control, and fertilizing have both economic and environmental impacts. There are many low maintenance alternatives that are attractive, environmentally sensitive, and require little to no watering. 

Alternatives to lawn

  • Replace lawn with drought tolerant groundcovers 
  • Let moss grow — perfect for shady moist spots
  • Install permeable patios and paths

If lawn is a necessity

  • One inch of watering a week during the dry season is all you need 
  • Allow lawn to go dormant (gold) in summer; it will green up again in the fall 

Find out when you can water your lawn and garden

Learn how to recognize and manage European Chafer Beetle infestation on your lawn

Purchase a rain barrel


Create a water wise garden

Plants may need supplemental water during the dry season, but over-watering can lead to rot and disease. Conventional sprinkler systems are water wasters.

Drought tolerant plants survive with very little supplemental water once established. While native plants flourish in our climate of dry summers and wet winters, they don’t always offer us the range of colour we desire. Using plants from other regions of the world can broaden our colour palette. They will perform beautifully alongside native species while injecting a boost of colour. 

Tips for being waterwise in your garden

You can go a long way to reducing your outdoor water use by:

  • Installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater for irrigation
  • Watering in the morning or when cool to reduce water loss through evaporation
  • Installing a recirculation pump on your ponds, water features, fountains, or swimming pools
  • Use a broom to clean your driveway or other surfaces
  • Only using hoses with an automatic shut-off device

Avoid pesticides and fertilizers

Rain washes fertilizers and pesticides into our waterways.

Get tips for gardening without chemicals


Check for leaks

Water leaks from the average household accounts for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted each year. Check your faucets, showers, and toilets for leaks, and you could go a long way to ensuring that our water is for drinking – not wasting.

Fix leaks for:

  • Outdoor fixtures; including irrigation systems, ponds, fountains, and water features
  • Indoor appliances and plumbing fixtures; including heating and cooling devices


Install a rain barrel

Buy a low-cost, high quality rain barrel. 

Benefits of rain barrels

  • The water they collect gives you a source of chlorine-free, slightly-acidic, ambient-temperature water that's great for your garden.
  • They reduce your demand for treated drinking water that's often in short supply in the summer.

Where to purchase a rain barrel



Volunteer to help keep water ways clean

Volunteer to paint yellow fish on Vancouver's storm drains, to remind everyone that what we pour down the drain can harm our rivers and oceans.

Call 3-1-1 to request a storm drain marking kit.

Learn more about the storm drain marking program 


Avoid washing your car on the street

Washing your car on the street is illegal because it flushes soap and grease into curb drains, polluting our waterways. 

Instead, go to a car wash, they:

  • Have special drains and use recirculating water
  • Typically use seven times less water than washing in your driveway

If you can't make it to a car wash:

  • Wash your car on unpaved surfaces like gravel driveways or lawns
  • Use a bucket and spring-loaded spray valve to reduce water uses

Read the bylaw


Use take-back programs

Return old or unwanted medication

In many places around the world, trace levels of pharmaceuticals can be found in the water supply.

Return old or unwanted medication, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter non-prescription drugs, and herbal medications, to the pharmacy or retailer where you bought them.

Find a take-back program for paint, oil, and other chemicals

Search Metro Vancouver Recycles  to find places to safely dispose of paint, oil, batteries, and other household chemical products.

Use non-toxic cleaning products

Get recipes for non-toxic alternatives for cleaning products. A good resource is the Recycling Council of BC's Toxic Toolkit. Find out more from the Recycling Council of BC 


Dispose of cooking grease

Grease quickly turns solid within sewer pipes, and can cause blockages that lead to backups and sewer overflows.

Pour hot cooking grease into a tin can or drink carton to cool and solidify before disposing the grease into the garbage.


Avoid using a garburator

When food enters the ocean it requires oxygen to decompose. The more food in the ocean, the less oxygen there is available for fish and other organisms.

Instead of using your in-sink garburator:


Programs and services

Children and the environment

Encourage climate protection early and help raise active, healthy, and aware children. Get links to programs and resources for teachers and parents, and fun interactive activities for children.

Waterwise challengeCase studies