Calgary’s water supply at risk of running dry as residents don’t comply with water restrictions

As the city of Calgary pleads with residents to conserve water due to the risk of the supply running dry, Calgarians have been stepping up to help. Silvia Naranjo reports.

By Lauryn Heintz

As Calgary battles a massive water main break in Bowness for a third day, city officials say residents aren’t following water restrictions, and the water supply is at risk of running dry.

The city says there was a significant reduction in water use until Thursday afternoon, but usage jumped significantly around the time people got home from work.

Calgary is currently using more water than it can produce, it adds.

“If Calgarians do not reduce our water use, we are at risk of running out,” a statement from the city says. “The City is asking Calgarians to save water for the next few days while the work gets completed.”

Officials are asking Calgarians to use 25 per cent less water than they did Thursday, which they say could mean shaving a few minutes off your shower, skipping a few flushes, and holding off on a load of laundry.

Water services manager Nancy Mackay says everyone needs to do their part.

“Just as we came together in the floods of 2013, to save all the water we can, we need everyone to do their part,” she said during an update to the public Friday morning.

The city says its crews continue to work around the clock to repair the issue.

Overnight, crews continued to pump area from the around the break.

The hope is that by later Friday, crews will be able to see the feeder main and figure out the source of the break.

The break was confirmed by the city after flooding was reported along 16 Avenue NW near Home Road around 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Major Jyoti Gondek said Thursday the line that broke is the Bearspaw south water feedermain — a two metre diameter pipe that takes water directly from a treatment facility to the reservoir. It’s a key artery that delivers water for the city and surrounding areas, including Airdrie, Chestermere and Strathmore. Officials say it was a key water supply pipe that was installed in 1975.

Restrictions for residences and businesses

The city is pleading with residents and business owners in the northwest community to follow restrictions.

Businesses are asked to stop water use for all non-essential services including businesses that use water for things like construction, outside window cleaning, pesticide applications, and washing services.

Businesses that use water to deliver a product or service that is life-sustaining for people, animals, and plants, are exempt from the restrictions, the city says.

Other exemptions include businesses that need water to meet health code standards, like hospitals and restaurants.

To manage the limited amount of water available, the city has implemented mandatory outdoor water restrictions, asking Calgarians to limit their non-essential water use by taking the following actions:

  • Delay using dishwashers and washing machines
  • Limiting shower times and keeping baths shallow
  • Turning off humidifiers and ice machines
  • Turning off water taps when not in use
  • Reducing water use in any other way that you safely can.

Calgarians are encouraged to use water from rain barrels for outdoor watering.

City officials say some are blatantly ignoring the rules

Mackay says police responded to 56 calls for misuse of water, on Thursday.

“We are trying to get back to normal as fast as we can, but this is a massive break, and it can’t be repaired in a day or two,” she said.

Community standards is taking an education-first approach with both businesses and residences as the city remain under Stage 4 water restrictions, according to the city.

Fines for non-compliance of the ban start at $3,000.

Mackay also said there were eight people who ignored the fire ban.

The Calgary Fire Department’s (CFD) ban prohibits the use of fire pits, recreational campfires, outdoor fireplaces and other open flame devices, such as barbecues and stoves, that burn charcoal briquettes or wood.

The fire ban is in effect until further notice, until water supply is no longer deemed a risk to public health and safety.

Fines for violating a fire ban range from $500 to $5,000.

Boil water advisory remains in effect

Residents and businesses in Bowness still need to bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before any consumption, including drinking, brushing teeth, cleaning raw foods, making baby formula or juices, or making ice.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the City of Calgary continue to monitor the situation through sampling and testing of the drinking water to make sure it is safe for consumption.

The city says this advisory has been issued as a precaution.

Water wagons available

The city has made nine water wagons available for Bowness residents, located in the following place:

  • 4527 77 St. N.W. (Bowness Community Association) 
  • 5927 Bowness Rd. N.W. (Bow Crest Nursing Home) 
  • 7311 34 Ave. N.W. (Our Lady of Assumption School) 
  • 4631 85 St. N.W. (On 85 ST beside Belvedere Parkway School) 
  • 7915 43 Ave. N.W. (Bow Centre Seniors Home) 
  • 2003 46 St. N.W. (James Shouldice Manor – access between school & manor on 47 ST 
  • 82 Juniper Dr. N.W. 
  • 4628 Montgomery Blvd. N.W. (Bow View Manor Nursing Home) 
  • 6540 Bowness Rd. N.W. (on 65 St. N.W. beside Bowness Car Wash)

Changes have also been made to the way water is being distributed across the city, according to Mackey.

“We are continuing to shift drinking water from our Glenmore Water Treatment Plant around the city, we are working that plant very hard to get water to everyone,” she explained.

City services impacted

Various city facilities and services are disrupted as a result of the main break and related restrictions.

City officials say all pools and area are closed, as are art centres.

Athletic parks are open, but no showers are available at city athletic parks. The same goes for the Calgary Soccer Centre, which is open but without showers.

Street sweeping scheduled for the communities of Willow Park, Sandstone Valley, Taradale, Saddleridge, Royal Oak, Highland Park, Greenview, Cranston, Penbrooke Meadows, Southwood, Aspen Woods, and Springbank Hill won’t happen as a result of restrictions. Streets that haven’t been completed will have their dates rescheduled.

Bulk water stations are temporarily closed until restrictions are lifted at the following locations:

  • Fire Hall # 20 – 2800 Peacekeepers Way S.W.
  • Fire Hall # 21 – 209 Silvergrove Dr. N.W.
  • Fire Hall # 26 – 450 Midpark Way S.E.

The northeast and the southeast station are still open for safety or health related filling only.

CityNews660 will have the latest on this developing story.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today