Calgary's commitment to water conservation
The City of Calgary is committed to conservation efforts to protect our water supply. The City aims to meet the needs of a growing population keeping in mind the impact of our decisions, programs and actions. We must continue to manage our water resources wisely so that Calgarians can continue to 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 square kilometres. Daily water management operations ensure that the water supply from both the Bow and Elbow Rivers meets the water demands for all our customers.
Supply and demand: managing water resources
City of Calgary staff actively monitor watershed conditions. Currently, snow pack and water supply forecasts for our rivers are near normal levels. We predict that conditions will be similar to those experienced in 2015.
To meet Calgary's water needs, conservation, not more water, is the answer. 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.
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.
- Parks has upgraded their centrally controlled, 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 and constructed new ones with 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, centrally controlled irrigation systems. Several golf courses use water from storm-ponds for irrigation.
- Roads has strategies in place to promote natural resource conservation, prevent pollution and reduce water consumption.
- Municipal buildings and offices make use of low water use fixtures and water efficient irrigation systems as part of our sustainable building policy.
- 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.
- 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.