Information | Rezoning for Housing

Public hearing on April 22, 2024. Proposed rezoning will support more housing options in all communities.

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Updated March 19, 2024

Conditions have improved moderately since mid-winter, but the Calgary region remains in a drought.

What we’re seeing

  • Natural river flows are low.
  • Reservoir storage in the Bow watersheds upstream from Calgary is average for this time of year. Thanks to the investment of  higher gates  at the Glenmore dam on the Elbow River, The City has been able to keep the Glenmore Reservoir as high as possible through the winter.
  • Mountain snowpack has increased since last month and is trending at below average to average.

How we're preparing

The long-term seasonal forecast is currently predicting warmer than average temperatures this spring, which may bring an earlier snowpack melt and increased pressure on our water supply.

If dry conditions persist, outdoor water restrictions  may be in place as early as May 1. We will keep citizens and businesses informed as conditions evolve and will provide an update in late April.

Working with partners to share the available water supply
The Government of Alberta is facilitating voluntary Water Sharing Agreements, where license holders co-operate to share the impacts of a water shortage by deciding how to share the available water supply.

Current drought conditions

Together, we can make every drop count during this drought

Around the house

Every time you use water inside the home there’s an opportunity to conserve water.

Turn off water when brushing teeth, shaving

By turning off the water when brushing your teeth you can save up to 32 litres per person per day!

Run full loads of clothes and dishes

Using your laundry machine/dishwasher when it's half full uses twice the amount water.

Take shorter showers

Each five minutes you reduce can save 100 litres of water.

Fill bathtub halfway or less

Filling the tub only halfway (or less) when bathing children can save 40 litres or more every bath.

Fill a pot to wash vegetables

Place vegetables and fruit in a partially filled sink or pot to rinse them. Use the collected water to water house plants.

Scrape your plate

Scrape your plate into the compost bin. Do not rinse the food off dishes.

Fix leaky taps and toilets

The average home could save up to 10 per cent on water use by fixing water leaks.

Install low flow faucets and showerheads

Look for the WaterSense label when upgrading toilets, faucets and showerheads.

Invest high efficiency appliances

When it’s time, replace your old dishwasher or washing machine with a model that uses less water.

Find other ways to save water in your home

Other quick and inexpensive ways to reduce water use in your home.

In your yard

Prepare your yard for dry conditions and make it as water efficient as possible. 

Add mulch to your garden

Mulch will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil, reducing your need to water your plants.

Install a rain barrel

Capture and reuse any rainwater Mother Nature provides this season.

Choose water-wise plants

Consider removing lawn where you can, and replacing with drought-tolerant, native plants that are suited for Calgary's climate and soil conditions.

Mow less often

Keep your grass 5-7 cm (2-3") high to shade the soil and leave your clippings on the lawn to retain moisture.

Point your downspout toward your garden

If you don’t have a rain barrel, point your downspout away from your home’s foundation and toward your garden or lawn to make the best use of the rainwater.

Add good quality soil

Add a base of at least 20 cm (8”) of good quality soil for a healthy garden that retains water.

Water wisely

Only water when it's needed. Watch the forecast and always water when its coolest in the day. Use a soaker hose, watering can or drip irrigation for your garden.

Prioritize watering trees

Prioritize watering your trees and shrubs over grass. Trees provide many benefits to Calgary’s urban environment and maintaining a healthy tree canopy during drought is important.

Check your irrigation system for leaks

Irrigation systems are one of the most common household leaks. Schedule annual maintenance with an irrigation professional and check often for leaks.

At your business

By reducing your water use, not only are you demonstrating leadership and saving water, but it also helps businesses reduce energy and maintenance costs.

Each business is different, and you know your business best. Here are a few resources to help you get started.

Review your water use

Identify areas of your business where water consumption is highest to see if there are potential water saving opportunities.

Identify potential water-saving opportunities

  • Check your plumbing system for leaks.
  • Consider installing water-efficient fixtures and equipment.
  • Remind your staff about using water wisely.
    • Report dripping taps and running toilets to your building manager.
    • Keep post-workout and after-travel showers to five minutes.
    • Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them.
    • Only run the dishwasher when full.

Doing our part

In response to this year’s conditions, across our City operations, we’re taking steps to make every drop count and further reduce our water use. This includes:

City parks and buildings

  • 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.
  • Where stormwater reuse is available, we’ll be using it to water young trees, flower baskets and some City golf courses.
  • Our City golf courses are looking at various way to minimize water use and increase water retention including changes in irrigation scheduling and mowing practices.

City vehicles

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

City infrastructure

  • We’re accelerating our water loss reduction program to detect and fix leaks.

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 typically develop slowly over time.

  • Calgary is most at risk of experiencing the effects of a drought from mid-July to the end of September.

  • A drought can last anywhere from weeks to multiple years if the region is consistently not getting enough moisture.

How we prepare for droughts

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.

Monitoring conditions

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.

We look at many indicators to help us predict if a drought may happen, how severe it could become and to inform our response. Some of these indicators include:

  • River flows
  • Mountain snowpack
  • Reservoir levels and storage throughout the basin, and projected water demand
  • Soil moisture
  • Weather forecasts

Along with drought risk, a rapid swing to high rainfall could still lead to river flooding conditions in the spring. We continue to closely monitor conditions, while taking steps to be ready for both drought, flood, or other climate risks such as extreme heat that can make drought worse, and lead to wildfires and smoke.

Our planned response

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.

If drought conditions persist and a significant supply shortage exists, The City would implement one of the four stages of outdoor water restrictions to ensure there is enough water to meet Calgary’s essential needs, including water for drinking and fighting fires, as well as to support our neighbours and river health. 

Planning for the future

Drought Resilience Plan

Our long-term water supply and efficiency plans factor in the effects of a drought. We’ve also updated our Drought Resilience Plan (approved by Council in October 2023) that sets the long-term direction for building a city where our residents, ecosystems, and businesses are prepared to withstand and recover from the impacts of prolonged periods of dry conditions and water shortages.