Calgary residents are being asked to reduce their water by 25 per cent; this plea comes after officials said that Calgary is currently using more water than it can produce.

At a Friday morning news conference, officials said that while yesterday Calgary saw a significant reduction in water use until the afternoon, water use greatly increased around the time people got home from work. 

"This current level of water use cannot continue. If we do not reduce our water use even further, we're at risk of running out so please keep following the outdoor watering ban and cut down on your non-essential indoor water use; both at work and home," said Nancy Mackay, City of Calgary Director for Water Services. "We are trying to get back to normal as fast as we can, but this is a massive break that cannot be repaired in a day or two."

Mackay added that city crews were able to pump water from the area around the break overnight, which is a necessary step before excavation happens.

"We are hopeful that later today, we'll be able to fully expose the section of the feeder main to see the extent of the break. This will help us finalize our repair plans. We are continuing to shift to drinking water from our Glenmore Water Treatment Plant around the city. We're working that plant very hard to get water to everyone," Mackay added. "We've also been able to adjust some of the pumping around the city so that we're able to get water differently to some of the communities."

According to Susan Henry, Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), as of Friday morning, Calgary bylaw officers had responded to 56 calls for misuse of water and attended eight service calls for having a fire during a fire ban. 

Yesterday, it was revealed that the break occurred in a key water supply pipe that carries water across the city, which has impacted not only water availability in Calgary, but in other neighbouring communities including Airdrie, Strathmore, and Chestermere.

"[This is the] Bearspaw South Feeder Main, which serves 1.2 million Calgarians as well as our regional customers living in Airdrie, Chestermere and Strathmore. This Bearspaw Main is the most critical feeder meeting in Calgary's water system, allowing for the movement of water to the east and south parts of the city, away from our largest water treatment plant in the north of the city," Mackay previously said. 

The feeder main is 11 kilometres long, and it varies up to two meters in width. 

"We will take the time to get to the exact location and determine our approach once we're able to surface the pipe and we'll then be able to see the size; where we still have not been able to see what exactly needs to be replaced, but we are working on a repair plan regardless," Mackay added. 

The feeder main was installed in 1975 and regular asset maintenance is completed on the city's pipes.

Airdrie continues to be under level four water restrictions due the Calgary's water main break, as Airdrie receives its water from Calgary. On Thursday afternoon, City of Airdrie officials informed the public that all City-operated aquatic facilities would close at 4 p.m. 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.

Municipal enforcement is also out in the community educating users on level four water restrictions as a primary approach.

"Businesses using large volumes of non-essential water are restricted. This includes water used for construction, exterior window washing, pesticide application and washing outdoor surfaces (except where required for health and safety regulations).

Airdrie's Fire Department has also put all of its training on hold.

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

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.

As of Friday morning, Calgary also continues to be under Stage 4 outdoor watering restrictions, while a Boil Water Advisory remains in place for all residents and businesses in Bowness.

"Alberta Health Services and The City of Calgary will continue to monitor the situation, including sampling and testing of the drinking water to ensure it is safe for consumption. This advisory is being issued as a precautionary measure. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice."

The City of Calgary added that Community Standards will be taking a compliance-first approach with both businesses and residents while Stage 4 water restrictions remain in place.

"Restrictions include no use of sprinklers, hoses with spray nozzle (only for gardens, trees and shrubs) and washing outdoors (cars, windows, exterior building surfaces, sidewalks, driveways or walkways). Continued non-compliance will result in fines starting at $3,000."

City of Calgary pool facilities are closed.

"Southland Leisure Centre & Village Square Leisure Centre: the weight room, non-water-based registered and drop-in programs are still available. The water parks, wave pools and showers are closed. All impacted programs, classes and lessons will be automatically cancelled and refunded."

While all arenas are also closed.

"... Except those with dry pads (non-ice). Some ice bookings will be impacted. Groups will be notified."

Athletic parks will have disruptions, though will remain open.

"... No showers are available at City athletic parks."

Fire Hall Bulk Water Stations are temporarily closed until further notice unit the water restriction is lifted.

Due to the major water main break and Level 4 water restrictions in the city, the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) has issued a city-wide full fire ban prohibiting the use of fire pits, recreational campfires, outdoor fireplaces and other open flame devices that burn solid fuels barbecues and stoves (charcoal briquettes or wood). The fire ban will be in effect until further notice.

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