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Calgary’s water usage spikes to highest level since crisis began, mayor warns

Calgary’s mayor issued an urgent call Friday for residents to slash their water consumption, warning the city’s water usage a day earlier had spiked to its highest level since the crisis began.

During her morning briefing on the status of the city’s key water feeder main, Jyoti Gondek said Calgary’s water’s supply is still vulnerable, noting that usage had spiked to 500 million litres on Thursday. 

Calgary officials have said the city’s safety threshold for water use is 480 million litres. 

“We are not out of the woods yet because the job is not done yet — the feeder main that broke is not back online yet,” Gondek said. “For those that think the conclusion of the repairs was the all clear for regular water usage, it was not.”

The Bearspaw south feeder main — a large pipe that carries the majority of Calgary’s treated water from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant to the rest of the city — ruptured three weeks ago.

Its rupture led to outdoor water restrictions, with the city also urging residents and businesses to cut back on their own use to maintain enough water for emergencies, such as fighting fires and use in hospitals.

The city has continued to urge Calgarians to reduce their water consumption 25 per cent by taking shorter showers, flushing their toilets less often, doing laundry less frequently, among other things

a road with construction workers, equipment, and fresh asphalt.
Paving the water main repair sites began on Wednesday. City officials say the roadway can reopen on Friday. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The city has outlined that while repairs to the line are complete, there are still four final stages crews must complete before the system is back to normal.

Gondek explained that workers must complete filling, flushing, testing and stabilizing the system.

“In fact, we’re only on that first step of filling, which is taking a little bit longer to complete than initially expected,” she said. “And if things move according to the updated time estimates, the filling process should complete late tonight.”

The mayor thanked Calgarians for their efforts through much of the crisis in helping reduce water use, urging them to keep it up until all the work is complete.

“Calgary we have done hard things in the past and we can do hard things now,” she said. 

“Right now, we need your can-do attitude.”

a map shows blue and orange lines marking roadway detours, and a red line marking closures.
On Thursday afternoon, city officials said that the areas along 16th Avenue N.W. indicated in red on this map will remain closed. (City of Calgary)

The mayor also said 16th Avenue N.W. will be open to increased traffic on Friday, which she called good news for local businesses and commuters.

A day earlier, Michael Thompson, the City of Calgary’s general manager of infrastructure services, said the top layer of paving could not be completed because of the rain.

That means portions of the road remain closed while work is completed.

The city reopened 16th Avenue N.W. between 45th and 46th streets on Thursday.

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