Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced that they will be implementing, 'various proactive conservation measures on a discretionary basis' in the Calgary zone to reduce water usage as Calgary and surrounding communities, including Airdrie continue to be under strict water restrictions after a water main break occurred in the city's northwest earlier this week.

The AHS Calgary zone encompasses Airdrie, Banff, Black Diamond, Canmore, Chestermere, Claresholm, Cochrane, Didsbury, High River, Lake Louise, Langdon, Nanton, Okotoks, Strathmore, as well as Vulcan.

According to a tweet sent out by the organization on Friday evening, the measures will only be implemented in appropriate situations and will not interfere with patient care or infection prevention protocols.

"Patient care and safety is our number one priority," AHS stated. "Some of these temporary measures include utilizing single-use utensils and disposable sterile supplies, showering patients during off-peak hours and stocking up on bottled water."

However, AHS underlined that it continues to ensure appropriate cleaning of floors and bathrooms.

"Laundry continues to be a priority at all sites. Signage asking staff, patients and families to reduce water use has also been disseminated throughout our care sites to remind everyone to do their part in conserving water."

In a Friday afternoon update, Calgary city officials stated that city crews have uncovered the pipe and exposed where the water main break is.

"Our crews continue working around the clock. We can now pump out the remaining water, expose the rest of the pipe and finalize repair plans,” said Water Services Director Nancy Mackay. "While this is good news, it will still take days before the feedermain is back in service. And it is crucial that we work together to reduce our water use."

It is not known how long it will take to make the crucial repair, but Mayor Jyoti Gondek says now is the time for Calgarians to continue conserving as much water as possible because this key artery delivers water for the city and surrounding areas. 

"As the work continues in the repair of the water feedermain, we all need to do our part in reducing our water usage to make sure we don’t run out of water,” Mayor Gondek said. "All of our everyday decisions can make a difference. Let’s keep limiting our water usage in our homes. We can get through this together."

Heading into the weekend, both Calgary and Airdrie city officials are continuing to ask residents to continue reducing water use all day, including mornings and evenings. Calgary City-operated pools remain closed until Monday. A fire ban remains in effect as well for Calgary and Airdrie.

"If you are staying in Calgary over the weekend, we need your help to save water for the next few days. If you are travelling out of the city, consider travel and traffic impacts along 16 Avenue in your travel plans," said Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Susan Henry.

Earlier on Friday, officials said that if water use is not reduced, there is a risk of running out.

"The City is asking Calgarians to save water for the next few days while the work gets completed. We’re asking citizens to try to use 25 per cent less water than yesterday. This could mean actions like shaving a few minutes off your shower, skipping a few flushes, and holding off on a load of laundry. We want to encourage Calgarians that right now is not the time to wash your car," Henry added.

The Boil Water Advisory remains in place for all residents and businesses in Bowness. Residents and businesses need to bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before any consumption. 

Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown also issued a plea to Airdrie residents earlier in the day. In a video released on social media, the city's Mayor is asking residents to, 'watching every drop that we utilize.'

The Mayor also urged residents to not use any potable water for any outdoor use, reminding residents the city continues to be under level four water restrictions. During level four outdoor water restrictions, residents are asked to not:

  • Water lawns, gardens, trees, and shrubs by any method.

  • Wash down any outdoor surfaces, including exterior building surfaces, windows, sidewalks, driveways, or walkways of any sort unless your business requires them to for health and safety reasons.

  • Wash cars on driveways or streets.

  • Fill outdoor decorative features, fountains, pools, or hot tubs.

  • Use potable water for construction purposes such as grading, compaction, or dust control

"We're asking all businesses and in fact, we've reached out to our top 100 users to ask them, specifically to reduce their use. We're meeting with them as we speak," Mayor Brown added. "We get our water exclusively from the City of Calgary... and we want to do everything possible to support them, when they're dealing with the challenges they have to deal with, in their own community. Please reduce your potable water usage."

There are no boil water advisories in effect within the City of Airdrie and water remains safe to drink.

"To ensure we share the water currently available, we are asking Airdrie residents to immediately restrict indoor water use by taking the following voluntary actions:"

  • Use dishwasher and washing machine only when required and with full loads.
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Limit showers to five minutes or less and keep baths shallow.
  • Scrape plates clean rather than rinsing food off.
  • Turn off humidifiers and ice machines, delay washing vehicles,
  • Businesses using large volumes of non-essential water, such as laundromats and car washes, are being asked to reduce water use.
  • Businesses using water to deliver a product or service that is life-sustaining for people and animals are exempt. Other exemptions include any businesses that must use water to meet health code standards, such as health centres and restaurants.

On Friday morning, Airdrie city officials said that water quality remains safe and Airdrie Water Services staff continue to monitor it very closely.

"The pool and arenas in Airdrie will remain closed over the weekend," a brief update stated.

The main break occurred on Wednesday evening in Calgary's northwest, and on Thursday morning an Alberta Emergency alert was issued, alerting residents of a water supply alert. The alert advisory remains in effect for all communities on Calgary's water supply, including Airdrie, Strathmore, and Chestermere.

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