Calgary’s mayor is concerned about rising water use, with restrictions set to remain in place for another week
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Calgary’s mayor is concerned about rising water use, with restrictions set to remain in place for another week

CALGARY — Calgary’s water use is rising again despite city officials’ pleas for environmental protection as crews scramble to repair a massive water main break. “We – you and I – must continually reduce our water consumption,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Wednesday.

CALGARY — Calgary’s water use is rising again despite city officials’ pleas for environmental protection as crews scramble to repair a massive water main break.

“We – you and I – must continually reduce our water consumption,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Wednesday.

Gondek said Calgarians used about 440 million liters of water on Saturday. By Wednesday, that number had risen to 480 million.

This is still below the threshold that will allow the city of 1.6 million inhabitants to supply water to all its districts and maintain a reserve for basic services, including the fire brigade.

However, the trend is not “great,” Gondek said.

“We see that water consumption is increasing. This gradual increase is certainly becoming disturbing.

“I know it’s hard to look at the clothes piling up and I know sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror and see sad, floppy hair, but that’s the most important thing,” she said.

All residents were asked to reduce their water use at home with solutions such as shorter showers and fewer toilet flushes. A mandatory ban has been introduced on watering outdoor areas, including lawns and washing windows.

Calgarians were in their seventh day of restrictions, which became necessary after a rupture in one of the city’s two main water pipes, which transport about 60 percent of the water.

On Tuesday, a seven-meter section of replacement pipe with a diameter large enough for a passenger car to pass through it arrived at the site. But this is just the beginning of the recovery process, Gondek said.

Installing and welding the new pipe will take about two days, she added. It will take another three to flush and fill the pipe. Ultimately, it will take two days to prepare a new section of pipe to supply water to the city’s underground reservoirs.

Infrastructure manager Francois Bouchard said that no city monitoring indicated that the pipe was at risk of failure.

“The pipe is about 49 years into its 100-year life,” he said.

Bouchard found the pressure in the pipe to be within the acceptable range. Acoustic monitors, designed to detect early signs of failure, showed none.

Physically inspecting the pipe would require disabling it and digging it out, which would put stress on both the pipe itself and other pipes in the system, Bouchard said.

“Our regular modeling of the pipe, taking into account factors such as age, pipe materials (and) operating pressures, did not provide any indication that a physical inspection was necessary,” he said.

Emergency management chief Sue Henry said officers were taking an “educational approach” to calls about water misuse.

She said the city received 1,170 such calls and responded to 1,077 of them. The officers issued 306 written warnings, 368 oral warnings and one summons.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2024.

Canadian Press