Navigating Calgary's Water Crisis: Updates, Repairs, and Conservation Tips

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Water Restrictions Still in Place in Calgary: What You Need to Know

Calgary is still facing water restrictions following a significant feeder main break in the city’s water system. Emergency officials are urging patience as they work to resolve the issue. On Sunday afternoon, Calgary’s water services director Nancy Mackay, Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and Emergency Management Agency chief Susan Henry provided updates to the public.

The Break and Its Impact

The trouble started on Wednesday with a massive feeder main break in the Montgomery neighborhood of northwest Calgary, leading to a boil-water advisory for Bowness residents. This advisory is still in effect, along with a water supply alert for the neighboring areas of Airdrie, Strathmore, and Chestermere. While other Calgarians do not need to boil their water, they are being asked to conserve it.

The damaged feeder main is a critical water line that transports water from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant. This break has severely impacted the city’s water distribution capabilities. Nancy Mackay mentioned that crews began removing the damaged section of the pipe on Saturday and will flush the pipe to ensure the water is safe to drink once repairs are installed. This process could take a few days, and it remains unclear when the boil water advisory and restrictions will be lifted.

The Repair Effort

Repairing the broken feeder main is a substantial task. Mayor Gondek explained that the repair involves cutting out the broken piece, installing a steel replacement piece, and welding it to the existing concrete pipe. Given the size of the pipe, which is large enough to drive a truck through, this process will take at least five to seven days.

The broken main was expected to last 100 years, but it only reached its 50-year mark. Despite this setback, other pipes and feeder mains in the city are reported to be in good condition. Until the repair is complete, the city relies on water from the South Glenmore Treatment Plant, which is also supplying water to the other 40 percent of the city.

Conservation Efforts

Mayor Gondek emphasized the importance of water conservation, stating that if Calgarians do not practice it, the city could run out of water—not because of a shortage at the treatment plant, but because it cannot be transported to the reservoirs until the feeder main is fixed.

Chief Susan Henry noted that if reservoir levels drop to one-third capacity, the city might have to further restrict water usage to ensure there is enough for firefighting efforts. Residents would see little to no water flow if the city runs out of water.

In response, residents are asked to adopt a “navy shower” approach—turn off the water, lather up, then rinse off quickly. Other recommendations include turning off taps while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing hands, and collecting shower water in a bucket to flush toilets. Using dishwashers and washing machines only for full loads is also advised.

Community Compliance

Mayor Gondek reported that Calgarians have been largely compliant with the restrictions. Water consumption dropped from 650 million liters on Wednesday to 440 million liters on Saturday. The average Calgarian uses about 173 liters of water per day, equivalent to two full bathtubs.

Bylaw officers have responded to 638 calls for water misuse since Thursday but have issued only 116 written warnings and no tickets. The city has stopped watering plants and closed showers in leisure facilities to reduce water use. While some crews use non-potable water for newly planted trees and golf course greens, this does not impact the city’s potable water supply.

Communication and Updates

Mayor Gondek acknowledged that communication with the public needs improvement, referencing stronger efforts during the 2013 flood. Work is underway to enhance how the city delivers updates. Daily briefings will continue until the situation is resolved, with Mayor Gondek addressing reporters every morning and emergency officials providing updates every afternoon.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to collect rainwater for watering plants and gardens. With rain in the forecast, it’s a simple way to help conserve the city's water supply.

The situation is evolving, and the city is working hard to manage the crisis and keep the public informed.

Do you agree with the measures taken so far? Think there’s a better way to handle it? Have your say below in the comments!