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The enactment of municipal bylaws imposing water conservation or efficiency measures is common and can be an effective way to conserve water. There are a number of legal restrictions and requirements that municipalities can implement, ranging from very specific, targeted programs that restrict lawn watering to certain days of the week, to broad restrictions that require all residential, commercial, and industrial water users to prevent any wasting of water.

Water scarcity bylaws:

Regardless of whether or not water supply is currently an issue for a municipality, a bylaw that can prove beneficial is one that gives the municipality powers to control water usage during times of scarcity. These bylaws generally outline different stages, granting the municipality increased powers to ban water usage dependent on the level of drought. Stage 1 often features restrictions on types of water use or specifying certain times of day that it is permissible to water the lawn, while the final stage is usually an outright ban on all outdoor water use. Municipalities typically advertise the restrictions/ban to their residents through local media and roadside signs or billboards. By passing a bylaw like this, your municipality is better prepared in the event of drought, and will not need to scramble to deal with the situation.

Programs like outdoor water use restrictions can prove very useful for municipalities that see water usage peak to unsustainable rates in the summer, but may not be useful if water consumption remains relatively constant throughout the year. Bylaws which promote or encourage water efficiency can help municipalities deal with year-round demand. Examples of efficiency bylaws include mandating the use of high-efficiency fixtures, requiring homes to be connected to a water meter, or banning excessive water use. However, it is important to be aware that many consumers in Alberta are already purchasing high-efficiency fixtures and taking action to reduce their water use regardless of whether such bylaws exist. Thus, it is important to fully understand the scope of water usage in your community before moving ahead with time and resource-consuming work to pass bylaws.

For more information or resources regarding water bylaws, please email