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Calgary takes steps to conserve water amid possible drought conditions

Click to play video: '‘Every drop counts’: Calgary launches water conservation plan'
‘Every drop counts’: Calgary launches water conservation plan
WATCH: The City of Calgary said no water restrictions will be implemented yet but people should prepare for them as early as May as it launches a new conservation campaign and measures to conserve water during a possible drought. Doug Vaessen has the details – Mar 19, 2024

As much of Alberta prepares for the possibility of drought, the City of Calgary is asking residents to conserve water.

The city launched a new campaign Tuesday called “Together we can make every drop count.” The goal is to get Calgarians to conserve water ahead of any possible water restrictions this spring and summer.

“The long-term forecast predicts warmer than average temperatures this spring, which may increase pressure on our water supply if we’re not mindful about how much water we’re using,” said Nicole Newton, manager of natural environment and adaptation with the city.

“If dry conditions persist, outdoor water restrictions may be in place as early as May 1 to ensure there is enough water to meet Calgary’s essential needs including water for drinking and fighting fires, as well as to support our neighbours and river health.”

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The City of Calgary will be doing its part by washing city vehicles less often; firetrucks being one example.

“The Calgary Fire Department is very committed to environmental stewardship,” said Carol Henke with the CFD. “Anything we can do to support water restrictions — as long as it doesn’t impede the safety of our firefighters when we are responding to calls.”

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The city said parks may not be as green as previous years and water fountains may not operate as often. Storm water will be reused to irrigate some golf courses, parks and flower baskets. Irrigation systems that use up to 30 per cent less water will be used to keep sports turf intact, the city said.

To conserve water, the city encourages Calgarians to take shorter showers, wash only full loads in their dishwashers and washing machines, and turn off the tap while brushing their teeth or shaving.

Calgarians are also asked to set up a rain barrel in their backyards, add mulch to their gardens to reduce evaporation, and make sure their downspouts are either pointed into the rain barrel or toward their gardens.

“It’s critical that we work together to do our part and incorporate water conservation into our daily routines this year,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in a news release.

“Over the last 20 years, Calgarians have steadily reduced their water use. In fact, we’re taking less water from the river than we did in 2003 while serving a population that has grown by half a million. It’s in Calgarians’ nature to answer the call when an emergent situation arises, and I know this year will be no different.”

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Newton said that in 2003, Calgary used just over 500 litres of water per capita per day. Now, the city uses about 350 litres per capita per day.

Kerry Black, an assistant professor and research chair at the University of Calgary, said Calgary should be doing better. The world model calls for only 200 litres per person per day.

The city said it will continue to monitor conditions in the watershed, including snowpack, river flows and reservoirs, upcoming forecasts and projected water demand.

Calgary resident Melissa Fellows was jogging with her infant in a stroller in Confederation Park on Tuesday. She said people need to be doing more now to conserve water.

“It’s absolutely concerning. It’s our natural resources. It’s what we rely on every day.”

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