Calgary's population and economic growth are supported with a limited water supply from the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The City must also consider how uncertainties such as climate change, changing water quality and future needs may impact the long-term water supply reliability and sustainability.
Several drivers for water efficiency include:
A finite supply: "New water" will only be found via water efficiency and water reuse. In 2003, Alberta Environment closed the South Saskatchewan River Basin (including the Bow River) to new license allocations. In the long-term, water shortages will become increasingly wide spread in North America.
Population and economic growth: From 2003 to 2015, over 300,000 new Calgarians were connected to Calgary's water supply. While Calgary has experienced a recent slow down in economic growth, by 2033 the population is expected to be over 1.5 million.
Climate change: Warming temperatures will contribute to increasing water demand. While seasonal temperature and precipitation are predicted to become more variable, the extent of the impact this variability will have on water supply is uncertain.
Provincial alignment: As a large municipality Calgary is aligned with the provincial Water for Life strategy and actively involved in conservation efforts of the Alberta Water Council and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Community Perceptions: The majority of citizens agree there is a need for immediate water conservation in Calgary (78%). In addition, most Calgarians feel it is important that The City promotes water conservation (64%).