Go golden to stay green: that is the challenge being issued in south Willoughby this summer.
Each year, the Township of Langley teams up with Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) for Water Wise, a program that delivers water conservation education and advice right to residents' doors.
An initiative of the Township's Water Resources Management Strategy, Water Wise focuses on a specific community each year, where it teaches residents about the importance of local groundwater resources and provides practical information on how to save water.
Five years ago, the program started issuing a Water Conservation Challenge, and last summer nearly 500 Murrayville residents signed on.
This summer, it is south Willoughby's turn, and people living in single-family homes in Willowbrook, Routley, and South West Gordon Estates are being asked to reduce their water consumption.
"People are receptive about being Water Wise," said the program's Taryn Hesketh, who noted that 86 per cent of residents approached in the past four years have pledged to reduce outdoor water consumption. "That is a trend we hope continues."
Right through August, in addition to community events, the Water Wise team plans to visit more than 1,700 homes to encourage residents to limit lawn watering to "one hour or one inch" per week - or even better, to stop watering altogether and let the grass "go golden."
Lawn lovers will be happy to learn that grass isn't fazed by going golden - it comes back greener than ever in the fall.
"Water use typically doubles in the summer," said Water Wise's Jason Paul. "There are many uses that contribute to this increase, but lawn watering accounts for a lot of it. It is estimated that an hour's worth of sprinkling may use up to 2,100 litres of water."
Residents who accept the Water Conservation Challenge are given a lawn sign, and those who take the pledge to "Go Golden" and not water at all will get a gold star for their extra commitment.
It is hoped the lawn signs will get neighbours talking about not over-watering their lawns this summer.
Roughly 50 per cent of the Township's municipal water comes from groundwater and the other half is piped from Metro Vancouver's Coquitlam reservoir.
Even if this spring has been rainy and wet, water levels in aquifers and reservoirs can quickly become strained when the weather turns hot and consumption reaches its peak.
"Reservoirs can only hold so much water, and it takes many years to recharge an aquifer if it's been depleted," Hesketh said.
Residents looking for other ways to get Water Wise can take advantage of subsidized rain barrels and water conservation kits that the Township offers its residents.
Rain barrels can be purchased for $35 at the Township Operations Centre or the Civic Facility. Water conservation kits - which are $15 for the outdoor set and $10 for indoor - are available any time at nearly all Township facilities.
As well, Metro Vancouver has made changes to residential lawn sprinkling regulations. Stage 1 runs until Sept. 30. Even-numbered addresses are allowed to sprinkle Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, 4-9 a.m., and odd-numbered addresses are allowed on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, 4-9 a.m.