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Water conservation

The City of Calgary is committed to conservation efforts to protect our water supply. We balance the needs of a growing population with the impacts of our decisions, programs and actions. We continue to manage our water resources wisely so that Calgarians can rely on their water system for decades to come.

Where does Calgary's drinking water come from?

Calgary has two sources of drinking water. The Bow River supplies the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant. The Elbow River, which flows into the Glenmore Reservoir, supplies the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant.

The Bow and Elbow rivers are part of expansive watersheds that cover thousands of kilometres. Daily water management operations ensure that the water supply from both the Bow and Elbow Rivers meets the drinking water demands for all our customers.

Supply and demand: managing water resources

The City is focused on ongoing watershed monitoring and analysis to inform our daily water treatment operations, and to meet Calgary's water demand.

Current water supply forecasts

Due to little rain and above average seasonal temperatures, some areas in southern Alberta have experienced drought conditions. Currently, water supply forecasts on our rivers are slightly lower than normal, although the demand for water is still being met and water restrictions are not planned at this time. The City is undertaking a number of steps to assess and further reduce our water use, and we encourage citizens to do the same.

Water management plans and programs

We have a number of plans, programs and tools in place to help reduce water demand.

Our 30 year Water Efficiency Plan, aims to maintain river water withdrawals at 2003 levels, even with population growth. We are on track to meet this.

We engage with citizens and businesses about a number of programs aimed at using water wisely. These include:

The Water Utility Bylaw 40M2006 allows The City to implement water restrictions. However, we consider many factors before restricting outdoor water use during a shortage.

These factors include river flows, available water, raw water quality, infrastructure construction and maintenance and reservoir storage levels. We also consider the nature of the water shortage.

City of Calgary water conservation

The City leads by example in conserving water and adapting to water restrictions when necessary. Various programs have resulted in major water savings. Some of these are:

Water Treatment Plant upgrades

Allow us to include reused water in the treatment process. This has reduced the amount of water we take out of the rivers by up to 100MLD.

Upgraded weather based irrigation system

The amount of water used for irrigation in 2015 decreased even with drier conditions and the addition of new parks.

Recreation has upgraded existing spray parks

We use holding tanks and water treatment systems to contain and reuse water. Spray parks now use a fraction of the water older designs required.

Sports fields are watered using weather and sensor-based irrigation systems

Several golf courses use water from storm-ponds for irrigation.

Roads water conservation strategies

We have strategies in place to promote natural resource conservation, prevent pollution and reduce water consumption.

Low water use fixtures and irrigation

Our Municipal buildings and offices make use of low water use fixtures and water efficient irrigation systems as part of our sustainable building policy.

Water recycling for bus washing

In 2015, new water recycling techniques piloted at the Spring Gardens bus washing station cut fresh water use from 200L to 30L per bus washed – an 85% reduction in water use.

Low water use for training exercises

Corporate Properties (including Fire, CPS and EMS), have been upgraded with low water use fixtures and irrigation systems. These include new systems to reduce the amount of potable water used in training exercises.​​