Caution | Mandatory Outdoor Water Restrictions

Due to continued dry conditions, mandatory Stage 1 Outdoor Water Restrictions are in place until further notice.

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City of Calgary conditions are currently “Very Dry”. This decision is based on monitoring precipitation, temperature, reservoir levels, river flow, and water demand.

Updated September 21 2023

Stage 1 Outdoor water restrictions have been declared citywide by The City of Calgary effective August 15, until further notice. 

Regional conditions remain dry. Forecast rain and low temperatures will help locally in the short term, however both precipitation and river flows remain below average.  Environment Canada is predicting a warm and dry winter, and restrictions remain an important measure to help us sustain Calgary’s water supply in the Glenmore Reservoir through to the spring, support our neighbours, and sustain riparian and aquatic  health downstream.

These restrictions apply to all Calgary residents, businesses and City operations. Calgarians can still use water outdoors during Stage 1; however, there are restrictions on how and when water can be used as outline in the Water Utility Bylaw. 

For details about the outdoor watering restrictions, visit

Understanding droughts in Calgary

Calgary is a dry climate, but because of our proximity to the mountains we can experience unpredictable swings in the weather from heavy rains to many weeks of dry temperatures and little rain.

A drought is when there is less water available over a large physical area for a long period of time. It happens when precipitation (i.e. rain/snow), river flow and ground water are below average levels.

Key facts

  • Unlike floods, which can happen very quickly, droughts develop slowly over time.
  • Calgary is most at risk of experiencing a drought from mid-July to the end of September.
  • A drought can last anywhere from weeks to months and can evolve into multi-year droughts if the region is consistently not getting enough moisture.

Doing our part

Building resiliency to flood and drought is a top priority for The City as climate modelling tells us that Calgary will experience more severe and frequent extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts.


We monitor our watershed conditions year-round and increase monitoring from mid-May to mid-September where there is an increased risk of flooding and drought.


In addition to using the Canadian Drought Monitor, we look at many local indicators to help us predict if a drought may happen and how severe it could become. Learn more about how The City keeps an eye on our watershed.

Taking action

The information we collect through our monitoring helps us carefully manage water storage at the Glenmore Reservoir and other City-owned infrastructure. The City also collaborates with Alberta Environment and Parks, and partners such as TransAlta and downstream Irrigation Districts to manage water supply and demand along the Bow River.

During the onset of a drought, City services will also reduce their water use where and when it is safe to do so. This includes:

City parks

  • Outdoor decorative fountains will run on reduced schedules or turned off completely;
  • We will reduce outdoor watering of flowers, turf in parks (where possible) and sports fields. 
  • Watering of newly planted trees or turf will continue at a reduced rate.

City vehicles

  • Exterior washing of City vehicles and buses will be limited to health and safety considerations.

City buildings

  • Reduce outdoor watering at City-owned and operated buildings.

If drought conditions persist and a significant supply shortage exists, The City would implement one of the four stages of outdoor water restrictions to further reduce water demand.

Planning for the future

Our long term water supply and efficiency plans factor in the effects of a drought. We’re also taking steps to update our Drought Resilience Plan that will include short term actions to be better prepared for a drought and long term strategies to strengthen Calgary’s resilience to drought.

Is there a drought in Calgary?

Please refer to the above dial to understand the current conditions in Calgary and our response plan.

We’re preparing now, so we’re ready for the future

We’re developing a Drought Resilience Plan that will proactively adapt Calgary’s water needs so we have enough water for Calgarians now and into the future. In spring 2022, we engaged with Calgarians city-wide to understand their perspectives and ideas on a variety of strategies that would help our homes, businesses and park spaces use less water outdoors. We’re using this feedback, along with feedback from other interested parties, to shape and refine the strategies that will be presented to Council for approval in fall 2023.