'Incredibly impressed': Calgary mayor applauds reduced water use after pipeline break

The damaged section of a water pipe is shown in this handout image provided by the City of Calgary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-City of Calgary *MANDATORY CREDIT *

CALGARY - As crews work to fix a massive pipeline break, Calgary’s mayor says citizens are stepping up to draw down on water use to prevent city taps from running dry.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek had asked Calgarians to reduce water use by 25 per cent to keep the reservoirs from running dry, and on Monday said residents went even further and saved 30 per cent.

"Right now, demand is not outstripping supply, but it's only going to stay that way if we continue to not do any outdoor watering and to limit indoor consumption," Gondek told reporters.

If not, she said, “You could end up turning on a tap and nothing will come out."

Calgary was put under a water emergency after the major feeder main in the city's northwest -- one of two main lines servicing the city -- fractured Wednesday night.

Lawn watering and all other outdoor water use was banned.

Residents were asked to conserve water by taking shorter showers, reducing toilet flushes and running fewer loads of dishes and laundry to prevent water reserves from running dry and putting municipal firefighting at risk.

Calgary condo owner Deborah Jean Bradford said she has been washing her dishes with used water, flushing her toilet only when necessary, and cooking grilled cheese sandwiches instead of pasta.

"Lots of people are doing creative things to not use water," Bradford, 72, said in an interview.

"I am a camper, usually self-sufficient, so we do know how to generally conserve water. It's not a big disaster."

She said she has left the city once since last week to shower at her daughter's house – a 30-minute drive away -- and grab some water for her plants.

The situation has been more serious in Bowness, the Calgary neighbourhood of about 10,000 where the pipeline fracture occurred.

Residents there were told to boil their water before drinking since the pipe fracture occurred, but there was good news late Monday, with Alberta Health Services announcing the water quality was satisfactory and the order was lifted effective immediately.

"All residents and businesses in this community can return to normal water consumption practices, as boiling is no longer required," a news release from the health-care delivery agency said.

The City of Calgary explained in an online update that it made changes to allow safe water to bypass the damaged main and reach Bowness. However, it said water restrictions remain in place for all Calgarians while repairs to the pipe continue.

The city had been bringing in large water wagons to Bowness residents, who filled up bottles, barrels and whatever else they could find with fresh water.

City workers were also distributing water to the severely sick and elderly. Businesses and other communities had been donating bottled water.

Logan Renaud, with the Bowness Community Association, said earlier Monday that taps in the community were pouring a discoloured mixture of mud and sediment.

"Even after you boil your water, it still looks brown, muddied, and not something most people are very eager to drink, let alone make a baby formula out of," said Renaud.

Work is expected to continue for the next few days on the pipe, which is big enough to fit a pickup truck.

By Monday, crews had successfully cut and removed the fractured portion of the pipe and will now weld in a replacement.

This report by ϳԹ was first published June 10, 2024.

-- By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

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