Stage 1 Outdoor water restrictions in effect
We are calling on all Calgarians to limit their outdoor water use. These restrictions apply to all homes and businesses.
When can I use my sprinkler?
Residences and businesses are allowed to use their sprinkler, soaker hose or in-ground sprinkling system one day per week according to a specific schedule that is determined by address.
Please follow the outdoor watering schedule that is listed below.
Individual units or residences
- Use the last digit of your house or unit number.
- Use the street address of your building.
Even number addresses (ending in 0,2,4,6,8)
For example: 32 31 Avenue S.W.
You can use your sprinkler for up to a maximum total of two hours on either Wednesday or Saturday during the following days/times:
- 4 a.m. - 7 a.m.; or
- 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.; or
- 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Odd number addresses (ending in 1,3,5,7,9)
For example: 2355 22 Street N.W.
You can use your sprinkler for up to a maximum total of two hours on either Thursday or Sunday during the following days/times:
- 4 a.m. - 7 a.m.; or
- 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.; or
- 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
What other outdoor water use is allowed during water restrictions
The following outdoor water use is allowed any day and any time:
Water gardens, trees and shrubs with a:
- watering can
- a hose with shut-off spray
- watering wand that automatically shuts off when not in use
- drip irrigation system
Water new sod (planted within 21 days) or lawn seed (planted within 45 days) with a sprinkler or hose.
Fill an outdoor pool, hot tub or wading pool.
Please try to use a pool cover to keep water clean and prevent evaporation.
Use water for construction purposes, i.e. grading, compaction, or dust control.
Actions not allowed during water restrictions
The following outdoor water use is not allowed:
Wash your car with water in the driveway or street.
- Bringing your car to a car wash is okay.
Apply pesticide or fertilizer that requires the use of potable water
Run a test of your irrigation system
Fill fountains or decorative water features.
Clean exterior building surfaces.
Use water to wash sidewalks, driveways or walkways.
As an alternative, use a broom to clean hard surfaces.
Wash outdoor windows.
Exceptions for businesses
The following outdoor water use is allowed for health and safety reasons and core business needs:
Wash vehicles to follow health and safety regulations.
Wash outdoor surfaces at childcare facilities, restaurants, kennel and animal care facilities where required by health and safety regulations.
Water plants, shrubs and trees for commercial sale.
Licensed cleaning services are allowed to wash exterior windows.
While not a bylaw exception, any customer that is a Water Managed Site has less restrictive allowances as an incentive to maximize water efficiency in irrigation.
Frequently asked questions
Many factors are taken into consideration when water restrictions are put in place. To help inform the decision, City staff examine:
- river flows, including if there is a fire risk in our watersheds that could affect the quality
- current and projected water demand in Calgary and amongst other large water users on the Bow River
- weather forecasts
- any potential infrastructure construction or maintenance required
Since we issued a Drought Advisory in late July, the natural flows on the Bow and Elbow rivers remain low. Also, with dry weather and warmer-than-average temperatures in the forecast, we are taking precautions to help reduce water demand. Protecting the Glenmore Reservoir water supply will sustain our city through to the spring.
These measures will also support our neighbours downstream, as well as fish and other species, who all depend on the river.
During an outdoor watering restriction, the watering schedule is designed to give some flexibility by letting Calgarians choose one of two possible watering days during the week and either morning or evening watering times.
If you’re not home during either day, we encourage you to ask a friend or neighbour to turn on your sprinkler during the approved times or consider installing a timer on your sprinkler system.
When grass goes dormant for the winter, it shuts down and turns brown to save water and nutrients. Grass can also go dormant in the summer if your lawn is stressed from heat or lack of water.
If your lawn has an established root system, it should come back in the spring. The best way to support root growth is to leave your grass at least three inches long when you mow. A deeper root system will develop and more moisture is kept. Longer grass also keeps roots cool helping your lawn handle drought and severe heat.
No. However, we encourage all Calgarians to use water wisely indoors all the time. Here are some easy ways you can reduce your indoor water use, save money and help the environment:
- Wash vegetables and fruit in a partially filled sink or pot and then rinse them quickly.
- Turn off the tap when brushing teeth or shaving.
- Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when required and with full loads.
- Turn off humidifiers and ice machines.
- Limit showers to five minutes or less and keep baths shallow.
- Scrape your plate clean rather than rinsing food off.
- Check for and fix any household leaks such as toilets and faucets.
Yes. Your drinking water quality remains high; this is an issue of water quantity, not quality. Our water treatment plants are working normally to continue to supply Calgary with safe, high quality drinking water.
Although outdoor water restrictions should not impact water pressure for customers, some customers may experience low water pressure at peak water demand times.
With a water meter, you only pay for the water you use. By using less water outdoors, you may see a reduction on your water utility bill.
Our regional customers including the City of Airdrie, the City of Chestermere, Tsuut’ina Nation and the Town of Strathmore that also depend on the same water supply also have water restrictions in place.
For restrictions in effect in the City of Airdrie, the City of Chestermere, Tsuut’ina Nation and the Town of Strathmore, please check with your local authority.
During this time, The City of Calgary is also doing its part to reduce water use. This includes:
- reducing or restricting irrigation and sprinkler systems that use treated water in parks.
- turning off decorative fountains and features outside of the downtown core.
- stopping non-essential street cleaning, bridge washing, and vehicle washing (except for health and safety reasons)
- Water Managed Sites certified by The City must reduce their watering by 15% in Stage 1. (A Water Managed Site is a property with an in-ground irrigation system that is certified for water efficiency.)
- where stormwater is safely available, The City will use it to water young trees, flower baskets and golf courses, as well as for construction purposes.
The intent of the outdoor watering restrictions is to reduce water use in way that does not cause serious economic hardship to businesses. Those requiring water for their core business needs and/or health and safety reasons are allowed to continue using water for those specific purposes.
During this hot summer weather, spray parks allow residents to curb their own water use by providing a more water efficient and free way for kids in the community to cool off rather than filling up kiddie pools or running in the sprinkler. Hours of spray parks may be modified.
For the health & safety of Calgarians, the bylaw allows for the filling & topping up of outdoor swimming & wading pools to help provide relief from the heat. This changes in subsequent stages, when further reduction in water demand in needed & filling pools is no longer allowed.
Yes, you can fill your bird bath during restrictions. Only fountains or decorative water features are affected by restrictions.
Yes. The bylaw has an exception for newly laid sod or grass seed. You can water new grass plantings (sod or seed) any time during Stages 1-3 restrictions. Due to the severity of the water shortage, no outdoor watering is allowed during stage 4.
During outdoor water restrictions, there are a few things you can do to help keep your lawn healthy and reduce watering needs. This includes.
- Keep your grass three inches long. Longer grass keeps roots cool helping your lawn handle drought and severe heat.
- Leave your grass clippings on the lawn, which returns nutrients to the soil and keeps moisture in.
- Don’t mow your grass in the middle of the day when the sun is hot. Lawns cut short in the summer heat can get stressed out and become diseased.
- Let your grass go dormant (brown) during a hot, dry spell. Most grass will recover and become green again when we receive a good rainfall and the right temperature returns.
Our many thanks to everyone who is following outdoor water restrictions and helping us sustain Calgary’s water supply in the Glenmore Reservoir, as well as supporting our neighbours and the river health downstream.
We would remind everyone restrictions are still in effect as we continue to see regional dry conditions and record low natural flows on the Bow and Elbow rivers. Many factors are taken into consideration when water restrictions are put in place. To help inform this decision, City staff examine river flows, including if there is a fire risk in our watersheds that could affect the quality, what our current and projected water demand is in Calgary and amongst other large water users on the Bow River, weather forecasts, and any construction and maintenance that is happening on our infrastructure. We are continuing to monitor conditions and will escalate or remove restrictions accordingly.
How are watering restrictions enforced?
Water restrictions are governed and enforced under the Water Utility Bylaw. While The City takes an education-first approach with citizens, it’s important that all Calgarians do their part so there are penalties for violations that depend on the stage of water restriction.
The fines are listed in the Water Utility Bylaw and range from $400 for a violation during Stage 1 to $3000 for a violation during Stage 4.
My neighbour isn’t following the outdoor water restrictions. What should I do?
If you know your neighbour, we encourage you to gently remind them that outdoor watering restrictions are in effect and direct them to Calgary.ca/restrictions for more information.
If you’re concerned about potential confrontation, please contact 311 and it will be shared / investigated by City Bylaw.