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Calgary to get permanent watering schedule; restrictions still possible

Calgary is gearing up to implement a permanent watering schedule, but the city says the move won’t rule out the possibility of outdoor water restrictions.

“We’re bringing forward a watering schedule to council to be able to proactively manage our water use, as well as raise awareness around efficient watering practices,” says Nicole Newton, Manager of Natural Environment and Adaptation with the City of Calgary. “And really make a commitment to our water conservation and make it an everyday conservation practice for Calgarians.”

She says the outdoor watering schedule will be brought to the council’s executive committee on June 11 and to the council on June 18. The city will anticipate the implementation of watering schedules immediately following council approval.

Referring to the success of such practices in towns like Okotoks, Newton says its tried and tested for success.

“The schedules vary among neighboring municipalities, but it is a practice that most municipalities around Calgary do have,” she says. “We’ll be looking to align ourselves with having a regular schedule in which Calgarians can follow to use outdoor water.”

Newton says the watering schedule will be incorporated as a water utility bylaw update and will set out best practices, times and schedules in which Calgarians can use outdoor water.

When it comes to violations and fines, Newton says the city will take an education first approach.

“There are some fines set out in the bylaw,” she says. “But with all bylaws in the city, particularly the water utility bylaw, we know this is a practice that will take some time for Calgarians to understand and to implement.”

“We’ll continue to implement the watering schedule with a communications campaign and work with our bylaw officers to take an education first approach.”

In terms of outdoor water restrictions this summer, the city will monitor conditions to see if there needs to be escalation later.

Newton says the city has received a lot of precipitation over the last month and as a result has moved its drought dial to normal.

“So the outdoor watering schedule is more flexible and less stringent than the stage one watering restrictions, which we experienced last year,” Newton says. “But we’ve been communicating with Calgarians since last fall on water conservation practices, and we’ll be monitoring the demand to make sure that we’re seeing the reductions that we need given the available water supply.”

“That will support one of the indicators to be able to make decisions if we need to move to a more higher stage in our water restrictions.”

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