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Calgary will run out of water ‘in the days to come’ if current usage doesn’t drop, city says

Despite conservation efforts from Calgarians on Friday, water levels remain critical across the city, with officials warning water could run out in just days if usage continues at this level.

“We’re not going to run out tomorrow, but I can tell you we will run out in the days to come,” said Nancy Mackay, the city’s director of water services.

According to officials, the demand for water is heavily outweighing the city’s ability to supply it. They estimate water use on Friday will be 610 million litres, but the city can currently only produce 520 million litres.

“Days, a week, somewhere in that order,” said Mackay. “We’re continually drawing down the amount of water we made up last night.”

City officials continue to ask Calgarians to use 25 per cent less water than they did Thursday. 

A major feeder water main break night plunged Calgary’s water supply into a critical state Wednesday night. 

The Bearspaw south water main — which is 11 kilometres long and as wide as two metres in parts — suffered a that left hundreds of homes and businesses in the city’s northwest without water.

two workers in orange vests point at buckled pavement and a muddy street.
A major water main break in northwest Calgary has left the city’s water supply situation in a critical state, officials say. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, the break caused streets to suddenly flood in the Montgomery area around Home Road, forcing the closure of several roads and intersections, including 16th Avenue in both directions.

In an update provided Friday afternoon, the city said crews have uncovered both sides of the water main and exposed an area where there was some damage. 

“We can now pump out that remaining water, expose the rest of the pipe so we can finalize our repair plans,” Mackay said.

The repair is going to take days, she said, and crews are still working to determine the cause of the break.

“We don’t know what went wrong yet,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday morning.

“What I can tell you is that this piece of infrastructure was identified for maintenance work earlier this year, and that work took place in April. And that’s a good news story that our water teams are very well aware of how to maintain our infrastructure.”

WATCH | Officials urge Calgarians to conserve water:

City provides latest update on water main break

1 hour ago

Duration 27:55

City officials provide a fourth update on major feeder main break affecting Calgary’s water supply.

The Stage 4 water restrictions remain in place, and the city continues to maintain a mandatory outdoor watering ban. Officials are also asking Calgarians to limit their non-essential water use by taking these additional actions:

  • Limiting showers and keeping baths shallow.

  • Delay using appliances that use water, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

  • Turning off humidifiers and ice machines.

  • Turning off water taps when not in use.

  • Reducing water use in any way that can be done safely.

When asked about possibly invoking mandatory indoor water restrictions, MacKay said that the city is still only asking Calgarians to “scale back where they can.”

“The one thing that we do know about Calgarians is that they do step up.”

A number of events, including Friday night’s Calgary Stampeders’ season opener, will go forward as scheduled. Officials say they are continuing to assess the risk associated with events that have a large draw on the water supply, but the football game is not one of those.

a large parking lot and a closed off road. there is construction equipment.
An aerial view of the spot where the ‘catastrophic’ water main rupture broke ground, next to a plaza on 16th Avenue N.W., just west of Home Road. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

A boil-water advisory for the community of Bowness remains in place. The boil-water advisory requires all residents and businesses in Bowness to bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before any consumption, including:

LISTEN | Calgary’s mayor discusses repairs to the feeder main:

Calgary Eyeopener6:16Mayor Gondek on the watermain break

We speak with the Mayor about the ongoing efforts to fix that massive watermain break that’s still having an impact across Calgary.

The city has placed nine water wagons around the Bowness area in these locations:

  • 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 85th Street beside Belvedere Parkway School). 

  • 7915 43 Ave. N.W. (Bow Centre Seniors Home). 

  • 2003 46 St. N.W. (James Shouldice Manor, access between school and manor on 47th Street.

  • 82 Juniper Dr. N.W. 

  • 4628 Montgomery Blvd. N.W. (Bow View Manor Nursing Home).

  • 6540 Bowness Rd. N.W. (on 65th Street N.W. beside Bowness Car Wash).

WATCH | How residents are dealing with the water main break:

Calgary water main break forces residents to conserve water

22 hours ago

Duration 1:47

A water main break that left hundreds of homes without water in Calgary triggered an Alberta Emergency Alert, warning that Calgary’s water supply is in a critical state. Residents are being asked to conserve water while the city finds the break and conducts repairs.

The citywide fire ban is also still in effect.

As of Friday afternoon, bylaw officers had attended a total of 170 calls.

“What we found yesterday with a lot of the calls is that people were unaware,” said Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) during Friday’s press conference. 

Henry said most of the complaints they’ve received have been about people watering lawns or for automated sprinkler systems.

Henry says the city will continue to take an education-based approach and will only issue tickets as a last resort.

LISTEN | Ward 1 city councillor talks about the community impact:

Calgary Eyeopener8:37Sonya Sharp on the water main break

We check in on the community of Bowness, which remains under a boil water advisory. 

The Trans-Canada Highway remains closed eastbound between Sarcee Trail and Home Road N.W. The highway is also closed westbound between Home Road and 49 Street N.W.

The closure notice is set to be in effect until Monday morning, according to the city’s website.

“This is a massive break that cannot be repaired in a day or two,” said Mackay.

“Just as we came together in the floods of 2013, we need everyone to do their part.”

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said the ongoing water issues have been a “shock” to Bowness residents.

“This community has been through so much since the floods in 2013,” Sharp told CBC Radio host Loren McGinnis on Friday morning.

Despite the stress, Sharp said that, on Thursday, the Bowness Community Association became a hub for the neighbourhood to help each other out.

The city councillor said that for senior residents and residents with mobility issues, the water wagon locations weren’t easily accessible. In order to address the immediate need for water, community members delivered bottles to each other’s houses and the local community centre.

“It just shows that this community comes together so quickly and supports one another.”

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