Guelph is heating up: Level yellow outside watering restrictions now in effect

Lawn watering allowed 7-9 a.m. and 7-9 p.m. on odd or even calendar dates by address number

Guelph, Ont., July 8, 2020 – After a sustained period with no steady rain and a heat warning in effect, the City is enforcing watering restrictions for level 1 yellow.

At level 1 yellow, lawn watering is restricted to 7-9 a.m. and 7-9 p.m. on odd or even calendar dates by address number — odd-numbered houses can water on odd-numbered dates and even-numbered houses on even dates.

“These hot, dry conditions, with little relief and low rainfall in the forecast ahead, are the primary reason we’ve moved from level blue to yellow,” said Karen McKeown, Outside Water Use Program Coordinator at the City. “As always, we encourage our community to use water wisely, especially through drier periods when water levels are lower everywhere.”

In addition to rainfall and dry conditions, other indicators that change local watering restrictions include local river flows, how much water the community is using and how much the City is producing or pumping through the system. The City will continue to monitor conditions and work with the Grand River Conservation Authority throughout the summer to decide if water use levels need to change again, up or down.

Outside water uses such as watering trees and flower or food gardens, running sprinklers for children’s recreational use, and at-home car washing is still allowed. At-home car washing must use a hose with a shut–off nozzle or a bucket of water.

“We’re thankful that Guelph residents and businesses are conscientious water users, especially during the dry summer months,” notes McKeown. “The City’s outside water use program is still one of the most successful and recognized water conservation programs in Ontario, and we have our community to thank for that.”

Guelph is a groundwater community. Groundwater comes from rain and melted snow that seeps into open spaces and cracks in soil and rock. As temperatures rise and we experience low precipitation, our water supply infrastructure needs to work harder to keep up with demands, especially during peak water usage times. Guelph’s water supply is not unlimited and is greatly dependent on local precipitation, which is why the City promotes responsible and efficient outdoor and indoor water use at all times.

How to report a concern

To report a possible infraction of the outside water use program:

  • Call 519-837-2529,
  • Use the 311GIS map app, or
  • Fill out a report online through the How can we help you tool by clicking on the “Bylaw compliance and concerns” button.

For reasons of privacy, please don’t post pictures of private property to social media to report an infraction. Calling or completing an online request are the fastest and most effective ways to report a concern.

In level 1 yellow, the outside water use program is actively enforced by the City’s bylaw officers. Bylaw officers will issue a fine or court summons for each observed infraction.

Lawn and garden care tips


  • Lawn grasses will stop growing in hot weather and should be allowed to go dormant
  • In severe drought and heat, it’s better for your grass if you don’t mow at all or walk on it
  • If you have to mow your lawn, set your mower blade to its highest setting and only cut your lawn when grass is 7.5 cm (3 inches) tall; this will help your grass grow stronger, deeper roots
  • If you water your lawn, only do so once per week, use a rain gauge and apply 2.5 cm (1 inch) at the most; if it’s rained in the past week you probably don’t need to water at all
  • Use oscillating sprinklers that shoot water low to the ground instead of fan­–style sprinklers which lose more water to evaporation and wind


  • Use mulch in gardens to keep soil moist; add 7-10 cm (3-4 inches)
  • Use a soaker hose or watering can to water plants at their roots and reduce water lost to evaporation
  • Water first thing in the morning; watering at night can lead to plant disease
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants native to the area and only water plants to get them established


Media contact


Karen McKeown
Outside Water Use Program Coordinator, Environmental Services
519-822-1260 extension 2109
[email protected]