Officials concerned warmer weather will increase Calgary’s water consumption

It has been over two weeks of water restrictions in Calgary, and mayor Jyoti Gondeks says progress on the repairs of a burst water main is progressing well.

The city says all pieces of damaged pipe that needed to be replaced along the broken water main will be cut out and removed by the end of the day Friday as Calgary enters its third week of its water emergency.

During a Friday afternoon update, officials said July 5 remains the date when water service could return to normal across the city. That day marks the opening of the Calgary Stampede.

Though Mayor Jyoti Gondek has cautioned that it is still possible the repairs take longer.

In terms of water conservation, Gondek says six billion litres has been saved since the restrictions first went into place more than two weeks ago.

Officals expressed concern that, with the warmer weather on the way this weekend, it is possible that water consumption goes up.

The mayor shared some more ways Calgarians were working to save water, citing a 15-year-old who “uses an Olivia Rodrigo song to time her short shower” and a 98-year-old man who is using “rain barrels to water his garden.”

Gondek also thanked Spruce Meadows, which has been relying on their internal water supply for the last two weeks.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Sue Henry says the city has now handed out a total of 14 tickets for violating the outdoor watering restrictions.

“Many of these tickets were issued relating to automatic sprinkler systems,” she said. “These restrictions are not new. These automatic sprinklers should have all had plenty of time to be shutdown or reprogrammed.”

The city said earlier this week they were moving away from their education-first approach to water misuse and starting to crackdown with more enforcement.

Stage 4 outdoor water restrictions and a fire ban remain in place. Fines are now being handed out for non-compliance.

City hall to examine water budget, infrastructure

In Gondek’s Friday morning update, where she provided a recap on what’s happened each day since the water feeder main ruptured on June 5.

She says at the upcoming council meeting, she’ll be asking questions about what budget considerations can be made to ensure Calgary’s infrastructure is up to date.

“Next week at council, on Tuesday, I’m going to be asking important questions to find out what we need in the budget so we have the technology and inspection methods that are needed to understand the type of state that our water infrastructure is in,” Gondek said.

The mayor added she will “be calling in all favours” from the provincial and federal governments who have said they are willing and ready to step up and support as needed.

Gondek especially gave praise to Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver for their help.

“That is the least we can do, is give you that peace of mind that we are looking after our infrastructure,” she said. “It’s my primary focus to ensure we have safety and security of water infrastructure in our city.”

She went on to say another aim is to make sure this situation doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“If it happened in Calgary, it can happen anywhere,” Gondek said, explaining she has been in communication with the chair and co-chair of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus to ask for advice. “I needed to make sure that the experience we’ve had here in Calgary translates to lessons learned and preemptive behaviour for other cities as well.”

It’s unclear what that could look like, but possibilities include a task force, working group, or panel.

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