Water Use Best Practices

The Nicola watershed is one of the driest regions of British Columbia. All residents and all sectors must practice water conservation and use water wisely. Please do your part to conserve this vital resource.


City of Merritt Water Regulations

Water usage and sprinkler regulations are in effect from May 1 to September 30.


Watering is only permitted during the following days and times (and this includes soaker hoses):


If your address is EVEN, you may water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

If your address is ODD, you may water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Watering Hours:


Non-automatic: 6 am to 8 am and 7 pm to 10 pm

Automatic sprinklers: midnight to 5 am

Hand watering is permitted anytime with a sprinkler can or controlled flow nozzle (even when washing the car).


Visit the City of Merritt’s web site for more information.


Do You Know How Much Water You're Using?

Brushing teeth

10 litres (3 gal) each day



150 litres (40 gal) for a 10 minute shower



At least 75 litres (20 gal) for each bath


Flushing toilet

100 litres (30 gal) per person each day.

Toilets account for 43% of daily indoor water consumption.


Washing clothes

170 litres (45 gal) each time you wash




20 litres (5 gal) a day


Running dishwasher

60 litres (15 gal) each load


Watering landscape

Over 1,300 litres (350 gal) each day


Hosing driveway

550 litres (150 gal) each time


Washing car


Over 500 litres (130 gal)

Indoor Water Use Tips

In the Bathroom

  • Don't run water while brushing your teeth. Fill a glass for rinsing.
  • The average bath tub holds over 180 litres (50 gal) of water. Conserve water by only partially filling your tub. Bath small children together.
  • Install water-saving showerheads. This can save up to 3,000 litres (800 gal) per month.
  • Turn off the shower while soaping up or shampooing.
  • Limit shower time to five mintues.
  • Standard toilets use over 19 liters of water per flush. Install ultra-low flow toilets (6 litres/1.5 gal per flush) – a family of four can save over 1,500 litres (400 gal) of water per week.
  • Don't use the toilet as a trash can.

In the Kitchen & Laundry

  • Install inexpensive lowflow aerators. A single indoor faucet without a lowflow aerator can pour out 8 - 30 litres of water per minute.
  • Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator and use ice instead of running the tap until the water is cold.
  • When cleaning fruit and vegetables, never let the tap run continuously. Wash them in a bucket and then use the water around your garden
  • When cooking vegetables use only enough water to cover them, and use a tight fitting lid. Steaming uses even less water and conserves more nutrients.
  • Limit the use of your in-sink garbage disposer. It's a big water guzzler!
  • Instead of using a dishwasher, wash dishes by hand, and don't leave the water running.
  • Washing machines and dishwashers can account for 20% of weekly household water use. By running washing machines and dishwashers with only full loads, you can save about 2,000 litres (530 gal) per month. When buying a new machine, look for models that use less water and are more energy efficient.


  • Leaks can waste 14% of all the water we use in our homes. Even the smallest drip can add up to a significant loss of water (and energy, if a hot water faucet is leaking).
  • Seek and repair leaks. By fixing leaky taps and plumbing joints, you can save 75 litres (20 gal) per day for every leak stopped.
  • A leaking toilet can waste up to 750 litres per day. To check your toilet for leaks, add food colouring to the water in the tank. If colour appears in the bowl without flushing there is a leak.

Outdoor Water Use Tips

At least 50% of all the water we use is for the yard and garden. Simple steps can save a lot of water! By simply not watering the driveway and pavement, we can save nearly 2,000 litres (530 gal) of water each month. Water wisely – position sprinklers so that lawns and gardens receive all the water.


Do You Need to Water?

  • Consider the weather before turning the sprinkler on. Water when it's calm; watering when it's windy increases water loss by evaporation and wastes over 1,000 litres (270 gal) each time.
  • Water less when it is cool and overcast, and don't water in the rain. Watering every three to five days is sufficient, less often when it rains.
  • Longer grass means less evaporation. In hot weather, let the grass grow taller, and set the mower one notch higher.
  • Aerate your lawn by removing plugs of lawn every six inches to increase water penetration.

How to Know If Your Grass Needs Watering

  • Step on it. If it springs back when you lift your foot there is no need to water.
  • Setting your sprinklers to water every few days instead of daily can save over 5,000 litres (1300 gal) of water per month. When you do water, soak the lawn thoroughly to produces a deep root system and stronger grass. Daily watering results in shallow roots and weaker grass.
  • Water in the early morning or evening when the least evaporation occurs.
  • If the children want to cool off with the sprinkler or garden hose, move their play area around the lawn frequently – that way, the water does

Rethink Your Landscaping

  • Plan a xeriscape garden. Drought resistant plants need less water. Add mulch to reduce loss by evaporation and weed growth.
  • Rethink your irrigation system.Manual sprinklers used without care are less efficient than a well-maintained in-ground system. Install drip irrigation wherever possible or use a root irrigator for deep watering to take water down to the roots where it is needed. 

Mowing Properly

  • Mowing affects turf density, uniformity, and aesthetic quality. The ideal lawn height is 2.5”-3” and will produce an extensive root system, be thick, and retain moisture. Shorter lawns have a shallow root system, promote weed growth, and are subject to drought stress.
  • Mow when dry, leave clippings on the lawn to retain nutrients and moisture.
  • Keep mower blades SHARP.

Fertilizing the Lawn


Grass needs three types of nutrients:

  • Nitrogen (N) for leaf development, density, dark green color
  • Phosphorus (P) for good roots and uptake of nutrients and water
  • Potassium (K) for stress resistance, wear and drought tolerance, and hardiness

Fertilizers are either natural or chemical. Consider using COMPOST as an alternative to chemical fertilizer.


Aerating & Controlling Thatch


Benefits of aeration - Minimizes thatch and allows better flow of water, air and nutrients to roots.


When to aerate - When the ground is hard and compact or when thatch has built up.


What is thatch - A layer of dead grass and roots between lawn and soil surface.  Thatch over ½” thick prevents water, air, and nutrients from reaching roots and houses harmful insects and diseases. Excessive watering, over fertilizing, and heavy pesticide use can kill microorganisms that are beneficial for thatch control.


How to remove thatch - Machine removal first, then rake and remove dead grass. Minimize thatch by mowing frequently, watering properly, and using proper fertilization techniques.


Aerating with removal - Removes cores of soil or slices the soil to help water, air and nutrients get to the roots. Allows microorganisms to go higher and helps break down thatch and reduce soil compaction.


When to de-thatch / aerate - Spring or fall.




Dormancy - Occurs with lack of water, and turns lawn brown. Lawn can stay in this state for up to six weeks before permanent damage occurs.


Need to water - Water when you cannot see footprints on lawn or when grass changes colour.


How much to water - 1-1 ½” per week. Amount differs according to soil type and vegetative area. The Merritt area soil has a high clay content which makes it harder to irrigate efficiently. Watch water absorption and reset sprinklers to apply smaller amounts of water over shorter cycles.


When to water - Water according to NEED. Allow grass to dry between watering to encourage deeper roots. Excessive watering leads to buildup of thatch, fertilizer leaching, weeds, and reduced uptake of oxygen and nutrients.


What time of day to water - Early morning because:

  • there is less wind which means more even water distribution and slower evaporation.
  • evening watering allows water to sit which encourages disease development.
  • blades can dry before heat, and prevents burning.

Take the 10% Challenge

If everyone in Merritt follows these water use tips we can reduce our water consumption by 10%. Come on, give it a try!




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