Although Calgary City officials are aiming for July 5 as the date to ease water restrictions and finish repairs on the five remaining damaged areas of the south Bearspaw water feeder main, Mayor Jyoti Gondek is cautioning residents.

"... A potential site may require a bit more repair than we had expected, or that water testing is going to take a little bit more time. I want you all to be prepared for these changes to the schedule as we continue to learn more about the progress that we're making," she said on Thursday morning.

Mayor Gondek reiterated that repair work is underway to the additional damaged areas in the feeder main, and yesterday, the sections of the pipe were fully excavated. Work has started to cut out the sections where the damaged areas were identified.

"These hot spots are not leaks; they are places along this portion of the feeder main... Where robotic inspection told us that tension wires on the outside were losing their strength. It makes sense to get these repairs done now while the pipe is free of water. We have all of the pipe pieces that we need in the city. Three are ready to go, and two are being sandblasted and coated with epoxy. All five will have custom connectors to attach them to the existing feeder main that is in the ground."

She noted that other phases of the repair work include backfilling the work sites and repaving 16 Avenue.

"Then there will be a flushing of the line and water testing to ensure that it's safe for you to drink, and we rely on Alberta Health Services to give us the all-clear in that regard; once that's complete, we can return to normal water flow."

Water consumption remains low despite steady uptick since weekend

Mayor Gondek commended residents once again for their water conservation efforts, noting that on Wednesday, water consumption was at 454 million litres within Calgary and the surrounding communities.

"... Which means you're now on a five-day streak of making sure that we stay well below the threshold, and that is such a great job that you have all done," she said. "All of those things are making sure that firefighters and hospitals have access to the emergency water supply if it's needed."

Mayor Gondek noted that the Calgary Fire Department swiftly responded to a house fire in the Bowness area yesterday, and firefighting efforts consumed 600 litres of water.

"You can see how important our saving measures are to the Calgary Fire Department and the folks that were involved in that fire. So, thank you again for everything you're doing."

The Mayor also issued a warning about harassing city workers.

"City workers who are flushing water lines via hydrants are doing this to make sure that they're meeting regulatory standards for water quality, public health and safety and to maintain our water system," Gondek noted. 

She added that The City also received permits from the province to be able to pump water from the Bow River for construction purposes.

"This is peak building season, and we want to make sure that as many houses as possible can be constructed," she said.

Airdrie officials address contingency plans 

According to Airdrie officials, while taking water from storm ponds is prohibited by the city's drainage bylaw, Water Services and Parks Operations are currently exploring opportunities to provide non-potable water to residents for the purposes of watering gardens and flowers.

"At this point, we are working towards having some direction on this shortly."

Many residents have also been inquiring about the city's rain barrel program, which found meteoric success this year. 

"Our regular supplier is sold out for 2024, and we are currently working with another supplier out of Ontario to provide the rest of the rain barrels for those who have pre-ordered with us. We received one shipment from Ontario at the end of last week, and we expect to receive the rest of the barrels we require to cover our pre-orders by the end of June," Airdrie officials wrote in an email.

Based on the numbers provided thus far, the city expects to have approximately 50 additional rain barrels—beyond their pre-orders—available for purchase as they continue to work with the Ontario supplier to see if they can increase this number further. The City also stated that now that they have a more precise timeline of water restrictions, they are going to begin conversations with other municipalities about water.

"We are going to open up conversations about if we need water from other areas and for whom. Discussions on this will continue throughout the week."

And as far as Canada Day is concerned, officials said these are early days.

"We are just starting conversations on how this will impact events; we don’t have anything to comment on this yet, but will in the coming days," an official for the city added.

Airdrie water consumption hit target

In a brief update on Monday afternoon, city officials said that Airdrie residents' water conservation has paid off, hitting a 25 per cent drop in water usage.

"Great work, Airdrie! Our community's efforts to reduce water usage are paying off. Yesterday, June 17, we saw a 25 per cent drop in water usage compared to normal levels before the outdoor water restrictions," The City stated.

However, the Genesis Place pool and aquatics facilities will remain closed until and including July 1. 

"Ice-arena activities resumed over the weekend. The water used to maintain the City’s ice arenas is being supplied from sources outside the Calgary water main break impacted region via a water truck," officials added.

Under level four water restrictions, all outdoor water use is temporarily banned, and indoor water conservation is strongly encouraged. Under level four water restrictions, residents cannot:

  • Water lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs and flowers by any method other than rain water.
  • 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.

No boil water advisories are 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 asked to reduce water use.
  • Businesses that use water to deliver a life-sustaining product or service for people and animals are exempt. Other exemptions include businesses using water to meet health code standards, such as health centres and restaurants.

"We thank residents for their cooperation in making temporary sacrifices to ensure that Airdrie and our surrounding communities have water for life-saving purposes," The City added.

Road closures 

Several road closures are associated with the ongoing repairs to the water main.

"Access to all businesses in the area is currently being maintained, and Bowness and Montgomery businesses are open. We encourage you to shop locally and, where possible, plan your route ahead of time to avoid delays."

The following traffic impacts will be in effect until the completion of the feeder main repairs:

  • Westbound lanes along 16 Avenue Northwest from 49 Street Northwest to Home Road will remain closed. Eastbound lanes will be open.
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 46 Street Northwest and 45 Street Northwest
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 43 Street Northwest to Bowness Road Northwest
  • East/West traffic will be detoured onto Bowness Road. Expect delays.
  • Eastbound detour starts at 46 Street to Bowness Road and re-enters 16 Avenue at the Shaganappi Trail interchange.

An Alberta Emergency Alert advisory remains in place for Calgary, Airdrie, Strathmore, and Chestermere.

"... Supply levels remain in a critical state, affecting the city's ability to provide water to communities and ensure adequate water is available to support emergency fire suppression."

While a fire ban remains in place in both Airdrie and Calgary, on Monday, Rocky View County lifted its fire ban. 

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