Water Protection & Conservation

New Westminster’s fish bearing watercourses include the Fraser and Brunette rivers – home to salmonid and non-salmonid species. Localized water quality degradation (e.g. from contaminants) in and along or near upstream areas in the City and adjacent municipalities may affect aquatic life and limit fish production. Destruction and alteration of foreshore habitat and riparian clearing in and around watercourses (including a few in Queensborough) may limit the capability of these areas to support aquatic life and provide fish habitat.

The City of New Westminster is committed to protecting or enhancing the quality of its water resources and encouraging water conservation with its citizens. Check out the programs and policies around water protection and conservation that the City is currently undertaking.

Check out section 2.5 “Environment and the Riverfront and Climate Action” in the City’s OCP.  Click here to go directly to section 2.5 of the OCP.

Additional information about water conservation can be found on the Metro Vancouver’s website.


  • 2023: Stage 2 of the New Westminster Water Shortage Response Plan is in effect Aug. 4.

    Lawn watering is NOT permitted under Stage 2.

    Additional restrictions for both residential and non-residential under Stage 2 include:

    • No topping up or filling of aesthetic water features.
    • No washing of impermeable/hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks unless it's for a health or safety reason, or to prepare a surface for painting or similar treatment.
    • No new permits for watering new lawns or lawns being treated for the European Chafer Beetle. Permits issued in Stage 1 remain in effect until they expire.
    • Reduction of the watering of some playing fields and golf course fairways.

    Permitted watering hours for gardens are summarized below.


    Watering trees, shrubs and flowers is permitted any day from 5:00 am to 9:00 am if using a sprinkler, or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation. All hoses must have an automatic shut-off device.

    Edible plants are exempt from regulations.


    Watering trees, shrubs and flowers is permitted any day from 4:00 am to 9:00 am if using a sprinkler, or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation. All hoses must have an automatic shut-off device.

    Edible plants are exempt from regulations.

    Watering Methods

    Automatic watering means applying water using an automated water delivery system that requires only minimal human intervention or supervision and typically employs mechanical, electronic, or other components and devices, including but not limited to timers, sensors, computers, or mechanical appliances. 

    Manual watering means applying water using a device or tool that is manually held or operated by a human being, without automatic watering.

    Check out the Lawn Watering: Automatic vs. Manual Methods guide for examples.


    1. Water Exemption Permits: Lawn Watering Permits issued during Stage 1 remain in effect until their expiry date. No new permits or renewals will be issued during Stage 2. With a Lawn Watering Permit, newly turfed/seeded lawns and those being treated with Nematodes may continue to be irrigated. Apply online for a permit.
      Remember that, while exemption permits allow for watering to continue on multiple days, watering is still restricted to the following hours:

      • Residential: Automatic watering from 5:00 to 7:00 am only; Manual watering from 6:00 am to 9:00 am
      • Non-residential: Automatic watering from 4:00 to 6:00 am only; Manual watering from 6:00 am to 9:00 am
    2. Hand-watering of flowers, shrubs and vegetable gardens is not affected by the regulations at this stage.
    3. Car washing using a hose equipped with a spring loaded shut-off device is permitted.
    4. Residents may water their lawn with water from rain barrels at any time.

    Your cooperation will help save water and reduce the risk of more severe restrictions.


    Sprinkling outside of the allowed days and times is subject to a fine based on the current stage of the Drinking Water Conservation Plan.

    • Stage 1 $100
    • Stage 2 $200
    • Stage 3 $500
    • Stage 4 $1,000


    To report lawn watering violations, please contact Parking at 604-519-2010 or . When reporting, please provide the following information:

    • Address
    • Date(s) and time(s) of the observed violation
    • Location of watering (e.g. front lawn)


    If you require more information, please contact Engineering Operations at 604-526-4691. Thank you for your cooperation.

    Additional Resources

    Lawn Watering FAQs

    Water Shortage Response Bylaw No. 6948

    Metro Vancouver Lawn Watering Regulations

    Metro Vancouver Drinking Water Conservation Plan - Summary

    Metro Vancouver Drinking Water Conservation Plan FAQ's


  • The impacts of urban development can have large scale impacts to the natural environment and in particular to aquatic systems.  In order to protect aquatic life from the impacts of sediment during land development and construction activities, the City implemented an Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Bylaw 7754.  The regulation outlines acceptable water quality standards and requires proactive planning and the implementation of effective ESC best management practices by property owners and developers to mitigate the risk of sediment release.

    Building permit applicants for single family and duplex development are required to identify ESC measures that will be implemented.  Applicants must complete and sign an Erosion & Sediment Control submission form for Single Detached/Duplex Resident Development.  This ESC Best Management Practice Guide is helpful as a support document for the single family/duplex residential community.

    For larger development and sites other than single family/duplex development, builders/developers are required to complete and sign the ESC submission form for large developments.  ESC requirements for larger development include the creation of an ESC Plan and the insurance that an ESC Supervisor is retained. ESC Supervisor commitment form can be found here.

    More information on ESC best management practices can be found in this Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) document: Land Development Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Habitat.

    For information on city requirements related to concrete works and concrete washing activities during construction, please see this brochure.

  • The Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) is a provincial policy directive which came into effect on March 31, 2006. Its intent is to protect riparian areas and the natural features and functions that support fish life processes. RAR affects local governmental approvals for new residential, commercial and industrial developments around watercourses considered fish habitat. The approaches to protect riparian areas around watercourses in New Westminster include the following:

    Fraser River and Brunette River: For development applications in these areas, a default 30 metre setback on both sides of the river (to top of bank) will be established. Development applications within the 30 metre setback will require assessment by a qualified environmental professional (QEP).

    Queensborough Ditches: Guidelines were created related to development and work activities around the various constructed watercourses on Queensborough. A number of ditches are subject to RAR (see map).

    For more information about RAR and development around riparian areas, please see our Riparian Area Regulation brochure (PDF).

    Did you know?
    The province is providing a consistent approach to addressing the potential impact of residential, commercial and industrial activity on the riparian fish habitat. For more information on the RAR, please visit the BC Government website.
  • Water conservation is not just about water shortages. It is more effective and less costly to conserve water than it is to build new infrastructure.

    Long-range climate projections show that our region can expect longer summer dry spells and decreased winter snowpack, limiting future summer water availability.

    Metro Vancouver’s per capita water use has been steadily declining for over a decade, but continued population growth – about 35,000 people every year – is expected to increase overall water demand in the coming years. On average, Metro Vancouver residents use over 400 liters per day for washing dishes and clothes, showering, flushing toilets, watering lawns and other outside activities.

    Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan

    Lawn and garden watering accounts for the largest portion of residential water use in the summer – water demand can be up to 60% higher in the summer than in the winter. Reducing water use for lawn sprinkling purposes during peak periods helps to ensure a sufficient water supply in the summer and can defer the need for system upgrades to the water supply infrastructure. In order to conserve our region's water supply, New Westminster supports Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Conservation Plan by enforcing the region’s Lawn Watering Regulations

    Rain Barrel Program 

    Rain barrels are a great way for you to keep your gardens watered and growing. Rain barrel water is healthier for your plants as it is unchlorinated and oxygen-rich.

    With lawn watering restrictions in effect from May 1 to Oct. 15, rain barrels are an affordable and sustainable gardening solution.

    A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from the roof to reuse on gardens, lawns, and hanging baskets.


    • 208 Liters (55 gallon) capacity: 34 inches high by 24 inches wide
    • Easily accommodates existing downspouts
    • Made of 50% recycled materials
    • Overflow capability, can be linked to another rain barrel
    • Square shape and neutral color blends into any gardenscape
    • Stainless steel screen keeps out bugs and leaf debris


    How to purchase a Rain Barrel:

    • Cost is $70 + GST
    • Proof of New Westminster Residency is required

    Options to purchase the rain barrel:

    • Pay in-person by cash, credit card, or cheque at City Hall
    • Online: email for order and payment


    Once payment is complete, pick up will be available at the Engineering Operations Works Yard (901 First St) between 9am and 12pm on the following dates:

    August 26

    September 9, 16, 23, 30

    October 7, 14

    *Proof of purchase is required.



    For general inquires: email or call Engineering Administration 604.527.4592

    Water Usage Calculator

    Find out how much water is used in your home with the Alliance for Water Efficiency's Water Calculator.

    Information and Resources

    • When rainstorms hit New Westminster, the combined sewers (sanitary and storm) in the city often do not have the capacity to carry all the wastewater from homes to the region’s treatment plants. As a result, sewage from the combined sewer overflows (CSO) unavoidably enters receiving watercourses – namely the Fraser or Brunette Rivers.

      The City of New Westminster has been replacing its combined sewers – an older type of collection system – with separate pipe systems (wastewater and stormwater). This process is a costly, long-range project that results in a replacement rate of only 1% annually. 

      In 2005, the City partnered with Metro Vancouver (GVRD) in an initiative to create a tank (CSO tank) that would receive combined sewer overflows from the west end side of the City. The tank, which is a 20,000 cubic meter volume storage facility, was designed to address the CSO problem in that area by collecting large quantities of wastewater (e.g. during large rainfall events) and storing it until a time when the treatment plants can handle the additional load. This CSO tank aims to reduce combined sewer overflows in the City by 30%!

      Did you know?
      CSO Building wins "green" award! Visit the Metro Vancouver website to watch a video on the construction of a CSO tank (Episode 21).