The two lengths of pipe from the San Diego County Water Authority that are heading to Calgary from California will arrive later on Tuesday evening. Once the crucial elements arrive, city crews will begin prepping them before the pipe lengths are installed as part of the repair work to the five damaged spots in the South Bearspaw water feeder main.

According to Mayor Jyoti Gondek's afternoon update, the arrival of the two pipe segments means the concurrent work on all five hotspots is underway.

"With regard to the work that's being done on the active sites, we have implemented a process to have crew leads meeting with each other twice a day to discuss lessons learned over the course of their shifts. We have also had the learnings from the repairs to the original break come forward so that we can have some suggestions that help us do things quicker while also maintaining the highest standards of safety."

She noted that collaboration between city crews and private sector contract partners will allow for a quick and safe resolution to the ongoing water crisis in Calgary, Airdrie, and other surrounding areas. 

Water conservation efforts lauded 

Deputy Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Coby Duerr lauded Calgarians and Airdrie residents for their continued efforts in water conservation.

"My heartfelt gratitude to all of you for pulling together and helping us with this emergency," Duerr said.

However, he noted that going forward, bylaw officers in the city will ticket residents more often if they are caught breaking the stage four water restrictions. To date, peace officers in Calgary have responded to over 2,000 complaints about individuals or businesses not adhering to stage four water restrictions. While most of the complaints were resolved through education, two tickets have been issued.

"Moving forward, unless there are mitigating circumstances, the direction to our peace officers is to proceed with ticketing if there is evidence of an offence for someone contravening the water restrictions," he said. "I'll remind folks that the specific penalty is $3,000 for an offence under the water utility bylaw, which speaks to the seriousness of this situation. With ongoing updates and the media attention to this situation, and a number of warnings given to date, it would be very difficult to believe that someone is still unaware that they can't run their sprinklers, fill their pool or wash something outdoors on their property."

Third-party review of the water main break

With repairs having been completed on the original feeder main break near 16 Avenue Northwest and Calgary city crews now tackling the two new construction locations to fix five remaining damaged areas of the water feeder main, attention has turned to why the water main break occurred in the first place.

Earlier today, David Duckworth, the City of Calgary's Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), outlined that a post-incident review of the main break will happen.

"The framework for the full third party review has already been established, and the scope of this review will include, but not be limited to, understanding the factors that contributed to the original pipe failure, understanding of current practices for inspection and asset sustainability, and it will include recommendations for specific actions to improve water supply resilience."

He said the expert panel will consist of academics, professionals from the water utilities industry, management and engineering, and government entities. Ultimately, the panel will provide recommendations based on the findings.

Mayor Gondek stated that she, along with all Calgarians, wants answers.

"I look forward to the light that this will shine on what led up to the failure of this pipe and how we can prevent anything like this from ever happening again," Gondek said. 

On Monday, despite the prolonged water restrictions and a state of local emergency being declared in Calgary, officials said that the 2024 Calgary Stampede would go on.

"The show will go on, and the summer will carry forward," Mayor Gondek said on Monday afternoon.

She reiterated that message on Tuesday morning, saying that summer isn't cancelled.

"We continue to find ways that festivals and events can proceed in a way that's responsible and sustainable."

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 up to and inclusive of July 1. Airdrie remains under level four outdoor water restrictions due to an extensive water main break in Calgary.

"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.

'Fun isn't cancelled'

On Monday, Duerr said they have been working with event organizers, including the Stampede, to ensure the 10-day marquee event can go as planned. 

"We have been working with the event organizers to make sure they don't impact our water use during this critical time," he said.

He added that they had reviewed the five-year daily water demand trend during Stampede Week, and it has been noted that there wasn’t a significant uptick in demand during past years.

“This is due to two factors. During Stampede, we know Calgarians are also travelling elsewhere during the summer vacation plans. We also know that water use is weather-dependent, and as we know from past years, many of us have been caught in this; early July can bring big storms, reducing the need for water outdoors."

Duerr added that the city's water expert team would analyze the demand trends more thoroughly as they continue to prepare strategies to support the Stampede.

"... But knowing that Calgary is Stampede, and The Stampede is Calgary, we feel that we can look forward to a great Stampede."

What about visitors?

Duerr addressed concerns that tourists coming to the city may also be a significant factor in driving up water usage.

"Calgary is open to visitors. Come, eat here, shop here, and enjoy your time with us. We just ask that when you are in our city, you are one of us and fight this fight with us," Duerr said. "Follow all of our restrictions. Make every drop count. Take three minutes showers or less. Take pictures and memories, but also take your laundry home with you - don't do it here."

Calgary Stampede CEO: 'The show will go on, but responsibly' 

Joel Cowley, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Calgary Stampede, said that the organization is one of the greatest stewards of natural resources because of its agricultural background.

"I'll tell you that it's very important that it [The Stampede] moves on…The least of which is not the $282 million of economic impact generated for the province of Alberta," Cowley said.

Cowley added that The Stampede has been working with the City to identify ways in which the event can reduce the city's water use.

"... And that would involve both the use of non-potable water, which can be used for a number of reasons. We can use that to groom our track and our performance arenas. We can use it for some cleaning purposes with the proper additives as well, and also transporting in treated water to support our livestock population." Cowley explained.

He added that while the organizers want to ensure the safety and health of the Stampede's livestock, they are also concerned about preserving the Calgary water supply.

"We'll also look at ways to bring in treated water to support our human guests as well during that time, and in instances where we have no choice but to use Calgary treated water, we will certainly implement conservation measures in that regard. I mentioned earlier that the Calgary Stampede is part of the community; it is deeper than that," Cowley stated. "We exist for the benefit of the community, and so, yes, the show will go on, but it will be done responsibly."

Tourism Calgary CEO and President Alisha Reynolds also noted that they have been working with the city to better understand the impacts on its tourism industry.

"As many of you know, tens of thousands of Calgarians make their living in the tourism industry, and they rely on visitors coming to our city for their livelihood. As we head into summer, this is a critical time for the industry, with many local businesses depending on visitors coming to our city, as well as locals coming out to their establishments to sustain their operations for the balance of the year."

She said that Tourism Calgary is engaging with its over 1,000 partners to share conservation best practices.

"... So, we can sustainably and responsibly welcome visitors while still providing that great guest experience and continuing to support the industry and our local community as we head into summer. Having been through crises in the past, we know how great this community is coming together and doing everything we can to support each other," Reynolds said.

However, she did underline that the city, despite the water restrictions, is open to visitors and open for business.

"We look forward to welcoming them responsibly, safely and sustainably. To visitors, including our friends and family who have plans to come to Calgary, we know you will have a tremendous time during your visit, and we want to thank you in advance for supporting our industry and community."

City of Airdrie answers frequently asked questions by Airdrie residents

The City also offered answers to some frequently asked questions by residents. For those who have new sod and are worried that it is dying, The City has recommended contracting a landscape company or water hauler to bring potable water from places like Crossfield, Carstairs, or Cochrane.

"Keep proof of purchase for Municipal Enforcement. You can also use harvested rainwater to water your sod. If you have not installed sod yet, please delay until a later date. No exemption permits are being granted at this time."

It was reiterated that the restrictions are expected to last into early July and possibly beyond.

"The situation is being monitored closely, and updates will be provided as the situation evolves," The City added.

Harvested rainwater can also be used for water plants, and the City underlined that it uses non-potable water sources.

"This helps to ensure that potable water is reserved for essential uses. We are prioritizing the conservation of our limited potable water supply."

However, residents are reminded that they cannot use water from storm ponds, as the city drainage bylaw prohibits it.

"Section 10.1 states that storm drainage must not be diverted, used, or re-used without written approval from the City Manager and the applicable Provincial and/or Federal agencies. Using stormwater can pose safety risks and violate regulations."

The City said that water bills are based on usage; hence, reducing consumption can lead to lower bills.

Road closures 

There are several road closures associated with the ongoing repairs to the water main, which include:

  • Eastbound lanes of 16 Avenue Northwest, where the initial break happened, reopened to traffic yesterday.
  • From 16 Avenue Northwest from 49 Street Northwest to Home Road will have the west bound lanes closed. East bound lanes will be opened into a two-way single lane traffic setup.
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 46 Avenue Northwest and 45 Avenue Northwest
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 43 Street to Bowness Road Northwest
  • East/West traffic will be detoured onto Bowness Road. Expect delays.

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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