Caution | Outdoor water restrictions in effect

Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions are in effect. Learn more about how City services are impacted and what you can do during this stage.

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Ward 7 - Terry Wong

16 Ave NW Critical Watermain Break

On June 5th, 2024, a critical watermain broke in the Ward 7 Community of Montgomery. Councillor Wong was quick to the scene on that day and returned twice the following day with City Administration, engineers, and tradespeople to assess the cause of the water main break and evaluate the situation for remediation and restoration of full water services. For the days following the break, Councillor Wong has engaged the Emergency Operations Centre team twice a day to provide perspective of the Montgomery neighbourhood, its residents, and its businesses. He has also reached out to support Ward 1 City Councillor Sonya Sharp and the Bowness community whose residents who were under a boil water advisory until June 10th.

On his own time and expense, Councillor Wong brought thirty cases of bottled water early Saturday morning to the Bowness community to supplement the City water trucks and provide water for citizens of Bowness. This spurred other Council members to do the same, and the generosity of Calgary communities also came forward to help Bowness in their time of need.

Since then, Councillor Wong has been engaged with City Administration behind the scenes as they conducted water main pipe inspections which resulted it the discover of five ‘hot spots’ (i.e., critical pipeline conditions) which required immediate and urgent remediation. This work was expected to extend the water restrictions for an addition 3-5 weeks, but we have since received an updated timeline that remediation should be complete with the 3-week period.

During this remediation period, Councillor Wong has been in contact with the Montgomery Business Improvement Area and the City’s Business Support team to ensure local business are minimally impacted and supported along with all Bowness residents.

The following are a series of City notifications on the 16 Ave critical watermain break for your review and information:

Overview

  • Original watermain repair complete
  • Local State of Emergency Declared
  • Indoor water restrictions
  • Mandatory Stage 4 Outdoor Water Restrictions in effect
  • Fire Ban in effect
  • Five additional repairs required for full water service restoration
  • Stampede is set to continue
Live Updates Daily @ 2pm Latest Updates
Outage updates
Date Update Summary

June 19, 2024 - 4:25 p.m.

With the arrival of two new lengths of pipe from San Diego early this morning and excavation complete at the sites of five hot spots, work on repairing the water feeder main break is progressing faster than expected. Read update #18

June 18, 2024 - 6:15 p.m.

Repair work on the five hotspots continues. Three sections of the pipe are being prepped for installation and the remaining two are expected to arrive from San Diego soon. The initial timeline of three to five weeks remains in place. Read update #17

June 17, 2024 - 5:15 p.m.

Repairs have been completed on the original feeder main break and construction is under way on the remaining five hotspots. Important festivals, conferences and events will go ahead. Read update #16

June 16, 2024 - 4:45 p.m.

We have concluded the inspection on the remaining 300 metres of pipe and preliminary results indicate no new hotspots. Expanded road closures will be in effect on 16 Avenue, NW.  Read update #15.

June 15, 2024 - 3:45 p.m.

Repair work continues on the 16 Avenue Feeder Main and crews have begun inspections at other hotspot locations. Materials for repairs have been sourced and are en route to Calgary. Read update #14

June 15, 2024 - 9 a.m.

City declares State of Local Emergency. Read Update #13

June 14, 2024 - 6:30 p.m.

A total of 4.3 km of  the pipe has been inspected for further repairs. Five hotspots south of the current break have been assessed to require critical and urgent repair. Current water restrictions will remain in place for 3-5 weeks. Read update #12

June 13, 2024 - 6:50 p.m.

Work has resumed after an overnight shut down due to a safety incident. We continue working on repairs as quickly and safely as possible and have transported the removed pipe for additional analysis. Today the focus was on welding the new piece of pipe.  Read update #11

June 12, 2024 - 4:15 p.m.

Crews are working on welding repairs on some of the access hatches along the inspected section of the pipe. The new section of the pipe was completely disinfected this morning in preparation for being lowered into place. Read update #10.

June 11, 2024 - 2:30 p.m

Today, we are deploying a second robot that will travel further into the pipe to assess more sections. We also expect crews to begin preparing the pipe for its replacement. Read update #9.

June 10, 2024 - 7:45 p.m.

Boil water advisory lifted for community of Bowness. Read update #8.

June 10, 2024 - 5 p.m.

Crews are removing sections of the damaged pipe. and inspections are underway. Roads remain closed and Calgarians are urged to stay clear of the work area. Read update #7.

June 9, 2024 - 7 p.m.

The City of Calgary continues its efforts to repair a large feeder main break near 16 Avenue NW and Home Road. Work is progressing well, and crews are moving closer to replacing the damaged area of pipe. Read update #6.

June 8, 2024 - 11 a.m.

Crews are preparing the feeder main for inspection to determine the next steps and expect to begin cutting out the damaged section of pipe. Read update #5.

June 7, 2024 - 6 p.m.

We have uncovered the pipe and exposed the break. We can now pump out the remaining the water, expose the rest of the pipe and finalize repair plans. Read update #4

June 7, 2024 - 7:45 a.m.

Our crews are still working around the clock. Overnight, we continued to pump water from the area around the break. We are hopeful that by later today we’ll be able to see the feeder main and determine the cause of the break. Read update #3

June 6, 2024 - 3:13 p.m.

We continue to work on repairing a large water main break in the Bowness and Montgomery area. The break is on a critical transmission line that enables us to move water across the city. Read update #2

June 5, 2024 - 9:36 p.m.

We have investigated and confirmed an extensive water main break in the N.W. areas of Bowness and Montgomery. We are confirming the full extent of the impacts and will provide more information as soon as we know more information. Read update


Frequently Asked Questions

Are car washes still open?

The City of Calgary announced that car washes, car dealerships, and car repair shops are required to stop using water for vehicle cleaning.

City administration has reached out to these businesses to explain this decision and to address their concerns and questions.

Is Stampede still happening?

Now more than ever we realize that summer events and festivals are not only important for our economy, but they are also critical to our community and cultural connections. They add vitality and vibrancy to our city and are a destination for visitors who want to experience what our city has to offer.

Important festivals, conferences and events will go ahead, including the Calgary Stampede. We are working with the Stampede and other event organizers to ensure they don’t impact our water use during this critical time. These events will look slightly different this summer, but they will proceed.

Will water use increase during Stampede?

Regarding concerns about water conservation during Stampede, we've reviewed the five-year daily water demand trend during the festival, and there is no significant uptick in demand noted. This is due to two factors – during Stampede we know many Calgarians are travelling elsewhere for their summer vacation. We also know the water use is weather dependent and as we know from past years, early July can bring big storms reducing Calgarians need for outdoor watering.

We are asking visitors to come, enjoy our city and live like a local. While you are here, you are one of us. Follow all the restrictions. Make every drop count, take three minute or less showers, make memories and take pictures – but also take your dirty laundry home with you to wash.

Will the City provide non-potable water or reimburse residents for plants lost due to the outdoor water restrictions?

Currently, there are no plans to provide non-potable water or reimbursement for citizens or businesses for any losses incurred due to the water restrictions.

Calgarians are encouraged to use rainwater collected in rain barrels or water obtained from a different jurisdiction not supplied by Calgary. Some landscaping companies are sourcing water from Cochrane or Okotoks to water existing planted materials. 

Pools and Arenas

  • All City-operated pools are closed with the water shut off so no new water enters the pools. Showers are closed in all facilities.
  •  We have closed arenas to reduce water use for ice production and maintenance (except for those with dry pads) and have changed ice hockey programming with ball hockey to keep kids active. Where they are open, we've turned off the showers.
  • Turned off all irrigation systems that use potable water, and where we need to protect new turf, we are using non-potable water. 
  • Athletic parks and the soccer centre are open (except for Shouldice Athletic Park), but we’ve closed the showers.

What efforts has the City been doing to reduce water usage?

  • Facilities have ceased watering plants and flowers, and irrigation of grass areas maintained for city-owned buildings. 
  • Decorative water features & fountains have been turned off to conserve water. • ·Wash bays for City vehicles are closed. Vehicles will only be washed to comply with environmental, health & safety requirements. 
  •  Annual flowers that have already been planted will not be watered this year while restrictions are still active.
  • To avoid additional use of water to wash streets, Street sweeping has been postponed. 
  • The City is working with the Calgary construction industry, to open two locations over the next few days on the Bow River to provide non-potable water for construction work. 
  • This water will be free of charge and will be the responsibility of the end user to ensure that water is appropriate for its intended application.
  • The City has the required permits from the Alberta Government to withdraw from the river.

Why are City golf courses and parks watering?

  • The City is resuming the use of non-potable water to irrigate our five City golf course greens.
  • City crews and contractors are using non-potable water collected from recent rainfall to protect trees, parks, flowers, and sport fields.
  • The use of non-potable water does not impact water supply for Calgarians.
  • Wading pools and spray parks will remain closed until the restrictions are lifted so that final preparations that involve water use can be completed.

Will a post-incident review take place to ensure a break like this doesn’t happen again?

A third-party review has been established and the scope will include understanding the factors behind the pipe failure and recommendations to ensure water supply resilience.

Can I take water out of the rivers?

You cannot take water from Calgary rivers unless you have a valid permit from the Government of Alberta. Taking water from our rivers is regulated by the Province under the Alberta Water Act. Unauthorized withdrawal of water can lead to legal consequences from the Provincial enforcement body. You need a water license or permit issued by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. These licenses specify the amount of water you can withdraw and the purpose for which it can be used. You may see City crews taking water from the river, as they have the required permits to do so. Additionally, river water is not safe for drinking.

How do I report water misuse?

If you know your neighbour, please inform them about the current water restrictions before contacting bylaw. At this time Community is very important.

If the concerns persist, please contact 311 so Bylaw Officers can investigate the situation.

Are there other options including using non-treated water for street cleaning?

Administration is working to see if street cleaning can resume using non-potable water.

What are the roads and mobility impacts?

We want to remind everyone that although we are still facing water restrictions, ongoing construction work in Montgomery and traffic impacts, Calgary is indeed open for business but expect traffic delays when visiting Bowness and Montgomery.

  • Westbound lanes along 16 Avenue NW from 49 Street NW will remain closed. Eastbound lanes will be open. 
  • 16 Avenue NW will be closed in both directions from 46 Street NW and 45 Street NW • 16 Avenue NW will be closed in both directions from 43 Street NW to Bowness Road NW.
  •  East/West traffic will be detoured onto Bowness Rd. Expect delays.
  •  Eastbound detour starts at 46 Street to Bowness Road and re-enters 16 Avenue at the Shaganappi Trail interchange. 

For more road closure and detour info: www.calgary.ca/16AveWaterMain


Situation

1. What happened?

On the evening of Wednesday, June 5, The City discovered a large water main break in the Bowness and Montgomery area. It immediately impacted water flow to Bowness and affected water pressure in several surrounding communities. Due to the size of the feedermain it has impacted the overall water distribution throughout the city.

2. What was the cause?

On June 8, the pipe was excavated and exposed. We continue to actively look into the cause of the break, confirm the full extent of impacts and will provide more information as it becomes available.

3. When was the pipe last inspected? how is a water main inspected?

The most recent maintenance work took place in the spring of 2024, and included the replacement of air valves and the installation of an acoustic monitoring device. Routine field checks on valve chambers are also performed regularly.

Several test shutdowns were undertaken in the winter of 2023 and spring 2024 in preparation for a full condition assessment planned for this December. 98% of our water distribution system is rated as being in “good” or “very good” physical condition. This rating is due to The City’s ongoing condition assessment and maintenance programs, which helps to identify and address potential problems.

The City has 5,000 kilometres of underground pipe throughout the city. We assess the physical condition by ranking it based on a combination of asset characteristics, physical observations, operational knowledge, and experience of known issues. We also leverage tools like deterioration modelling which takes into consideration operating pressure, soil condition, pipe type/age and performance of similar pipes to help focus our physical inspections.

4. Why did it impact water use throughout Calgary?

The break is on one of our critical water feedermains that enables us to move water across the city. We are asking everyone to reduce their indoor water use and stop all outdoor water use to share the water we have.

5. How does a break like this impact the whole city?

The break occurred on The Bearspaw South Feedermain, which services Calgarians, as well as our regional customers in Airdrie, Chestermere, and Strathmore.

Our water system is interconnected and what happens in one part of the system can impact another part. With the feedermain offline, all the pipes that connect to this line / within the network are unable to receive water. Glenmore is a smaller plant that is pumping at capacity to make up for the shortfall caused from the Bearspaw South feedermain break. Demand is still exceeding supply at critical parts of the day, which prevents us from replenishing our reservoir storage continuously.

6. Was there any Damage to businesses or nearby homes?

Although some water pooled in nearby business parking lots, there was no damage reported from nearby businesses or homes. Shouldice Athletic Park fields were damaged and we are currently assessing the extent of the damage.

PIPE REPAIRS

Pipe repairs change frequently, and key information can be found at Critical water main break - June 2024 (calgary.ca) 

7. Why was there no physical inspection of the pipe done when the acoustic monitoring equipment was installed in the spring of 2024?

There was no indication a physical inspection was required. The feeder main operated well within its pressure limits and the acoustic monitoring equipment installed early 2024 provided no indication of any issues. The physical inspection would have required shutting down the pipe, putting stress on other pipes in the network. Excavation to visually inspect would have also increased unnecessary risk to the pipe.

WATER USE AND LEVELS

8. How much have Calgarians reduced their water use by?

Normal demand is 600 millions of litres of water per day. The target is to keep our demand below 480 million litres of water per day.

9. Given the improvements, how many days would we have before we run out of water? What are the consequences if we run out of water?

If we can keep conserving, we will be able to maintain our current capacity. However, it all really depends on how much daily water we save. It is critical that everyone does their part.

We are continually monitoring our reservoir levels. A key metric of our contingency plan is if reservoirs were to hit one third capacity. If that happens, it will trigger a need to limit water flow to only fire-fighting efforts to protect life. As well, community water mass distribution plans would be enacted, and we would activate Emergency Social Services to assist folks who have a medical condition that requires water.

If we continue to conserve water like we have, this is unlikely to happen.

10. What is considered essential water use?

We are asking Calgarians to conserve their water use by complying with the mandatory outdoor water restrictions and limiting their indoor water use.

11.Why are city-wide water restrictions needed?

The incident affected a critical water feedermain, and it is impacting our ability to deliver drinking water across the city.

12. What do people need to do?

The City has enacted a Stage 4 mandatory outdoor watering ban. Currently all outdoor water use is prohibited.

We are also asking Calgarians to limit their indoor water use by taking these additional actions:

  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when required and with full loads.
  • Limit showers to three minutes or less and keeping baths shallow if you are able to do so.
  • Turn off humidifiers, ice machines and automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Turn off water taps when brushing teeth or shaving.

More information can be found at Stage 4 Outdoor water restrictions in effect (calgary.ca)

13. What should businesses do?

Businesses using large volumes of non-essential water, such as laundromats, are being asked to reduce water use. Businesses using water to deliver a product or service that is life sustaining for people, animals and plants are exempt. Other exemptions include any businesses that must use water to meet health code standards, such as hospitals and restaurants.

The City of Calgary is also reducing its non-essential water use. An FAQ located at Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (calgary.ca) lists all the efforts that The City continues to make to reduce water usage.

14. Are there fines for violating outdoor watering restrictions at stage 4?

Given the urgency of this situation, we are counting on all Calgarians to do their part by obeying the mandatory outdoor water restrictions and following the voluntary indoor water restrictions.

The City strives to take an education-first approach with citizens, as it’s important that all Calgarians do their part. Under the act, violations of these restrictions may lead to fines, but we hope everyone complies willingly and that fines arenot required.

If you know your neighbor, you may want to ensure they are aware of the outdoor water restrictions before reporting them to Bylaw.

Otherwise, please contact 311 so Bylaw Officers can follow-up to investigate the situation.

15. Why are City golf courses watering?

The City is resuming the use of non-potable water to irrigate our five City golf course greens. City crews and contractors are using non-potable water to protect 500 newly planted trees. The use of non-potable water does not impact water supply for Calgarians.

16. What other efforts has The City been doing to reduce water usage?

  • Facilities have ceased watering plants and flowers, and irrigation of grassy areas maintained for city-owned buildings.
  • Decorative water features & fountains have been turned off to conserve water.
  • Wash bays for City vehicles are closed. Vehicles will only be washed to comply with environmental, health & safety requirements.

17. Pools & Arenas

  • All City-operated aquatic facilities are closed with the water shut off, so no new water enters our pools.
  • We have also shut off water in our Leisure Centres to ensure no new water enters our wave pools & water parks. The showers are closed as well.
  • All irrigation systems that use potable water have been turned off, and where we need to protect new turf, we are using non-potable water. Athletic parks and the Soccer Centre are open (except for Shouldice Athletic Park), but showers remain closed.

18. Operations & Construction

To avoid additional use of water to wash streets, street sweeping has been postponed. City construction & operational teams have stopped implementing dust suppression where safe to do so.

19. Can we use water at hair salons?

Hair salons and other businesses have been asked to voluntarily limit their indoor water use as they deem appropriate.

20.Why can garden centres/businesses use potable water to water their plants and flowers during Stage 4 restrictions?

Under the Stage 4 Outdoor Water Restrictions, certain businesses are exempt. This includes those businesses using water to deliver a product or service that is life sustaining for people, animals, and plants “that are for sale and not yet planted.”

21.Can we use water from rain barrels to water plants / shrubs? What about grey water?

Yes, you can use water from rain barrels to water plants, shrubs, and gardens. Greywater can also be used to water plants but there are considerations you should investigate further (i.e. don't use greywater to water your vegetable plants).

22. Due to the circumstance, can people collect water from the river or reservoir to water their gardens?

We do not advise Calgarians to collect water from the river due to safety reasons accessing the river. An alternative is to use a rain barrel (or a bucket) to collect rainwater and reuse in your garden.

23. Why can the community garden water their plants but I can’t water my veggie garden?

According to the Water Utility Bylaw, community gardens are allowed to continue using water for their gardens during Stage 4 restrictions, but we have been reaching out to them to urge them to be as efficient as possible with their water use. This includes checking all hoses for leaks and turning hoses off when not in use, using a watering can to hand-water where possible, and only giving plants the water they need to survive. At this point in the growing season, veggie gardens need very little water to survive. Consider putting a tote in your shower to collect clean, cold water while you’re waiting for it to heat up and reuse it to water your veggie garden. Don’t use water collected while showering/bathing or other greywater to water your edible plants.

24. Will The City replace flowers that may die due to limited watering?

Annual flowers that have already been planted will not be watered this year while restrictions are still active. There is no plan to replace them.

 

Categories: Safety, Updates, Ward 7, Water

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