Calgary’s worsening drought has led to city-wide water restrictions
By Gurleen Jassal, Contributor
A beautiful end to the summer brings an unfortunate note for Calgarians and their water usage as a water shortage in the city has led to restrictions being put in place.
As the weather warmed in late August, the rate of precipitation had dwindled leading the water levels for both the Elbow and Bow River to hit a low. This occurred due to the early melt of snow in spring, resulting in lower flows of water into the rivers.
With these unexpected occurrences, the City of Calgary decided to put in water restrictions to ensure continued water access.
“To manage water use in times of shortage, the water utility bylaw outlines outdoor water restrictions, which may be implemented by the director of water services,” said the City of Calgary. “The bylaw outlines four stages of mandatory restrictions based on the severity of the water shortage. The first stage is the least restrictive while the fourth is the most restrictive.”
Currently, the city is at stage one for restrictions, which means that Calgarians can have outdoor water usage twice a week on designated days according to house number.
“Outdoor water use is only restricted during a period of water shortage to maximize water conservation to help balance demand with the available water supply so that water is available for the most essential uses,” the City of Calgary explains.
With these restrictions being put in full effect through mid-to-end of August, the city has been able to save over 1.1 billion litres of water— which has sustained the city’s water supply.
The city monitors the river year-round to determine when a drought declaration is necessary.
“City staff examine river flows— including if there is a fire risk in our watersheds that could affect the quality — what our current and projected water demand is in Calgary and amongst other large water users on the Bow River, weather forecasts, and any construction and maintenance that is happening on our infrastructure,” said the City of Calgary.
Restrictions will be held in place until further notice as the city periodically examines the state of the water levels in the Bow and Elbow River.
“We would remind everyone that restrictions are still in effect as we continue to see regional dry conditions and record low natural flows on the Bow and Elbow River. We are continuing to monitor conditions and will escalate or remove restrictions accordingly.”
As restrictions on water usage change according to river conditions, Calgarians will have to pay close attention to all alerts the city rolls out.