Indoor water use remains below safety threshold as crews work to stabilize Calgary's system

A drone shot from early June of the spot where the catastrophic water main rupture broke ground, next to a plaza on 16th Avenue N.W., just west of Home Road. (Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit)
A drone shot from early June of the spot where the catastrophic water main rupture broke ground, next to a plaza on 16th Avenue N.W., just west of Home Road. (Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit)

Residents of Calgary and the surrounding areas that use its water have eased back into regular water use since city officials announced Tuesday that indoor water use could return to normal.

According to city officials, 478 million litres of treated water was used on Tuesday — which is below the city's 480-million-litre target safety threshold — and usage increased mostly in the evening.

It comes after the city said indoor water use could return to normal, though Mayor Jyoti Gondek continued to urge residents to ease back into their regular water-use habits as crews work to fully stabilize the system.

During a regular Wednesday afternoon update, Gondek used surgery as an analogy to make sense of the city's water system.

"We are now in post-op, we are in recovery mode, and we need to monitor how our patient is doing," she said.

"The last thing we want to do is put the feeder main or the system at risk again."

The city remains under a state of local emergency and outdoor Stage 4 water restrictions and a citywide fire ban remain in place as crews determine how the system will respond to the easing of indoor conservation measures.

"We need to keep the whole system stable at this current level of pressure before we can relax to a lesser set of outdoor water restrictions" said Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, on Wednesday.

Henry says all city-owned pools reopened on Wednesday, but certain features — such as hot tubs, water slides and kiddie pools — have not yet been reopened.

As for outdoor pools, the city says these recreational spaces won't reopen until the city reaches at least Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions.

The state of local emergency expires on Thursday, and the city will review whether to renew or lift it as they monitor the situation.

The City of Calgary's general manager of infrastructure services, Michael Thompson, said on Tuesday the Bearspaw south feeder main — which ruptured on June 5 — is operating at 50 per cent capacity for now, and restoring normal water supply also means taking some of the stress off of the rest of the system.

The mayor says that, since the feeder main broke, over 3.5 billion litres of water have been conserved compared to what's typically used in Calgary by this time of year.