City of Calgary conditions are currently “Dry”. This decision is based on monitoring precipitation, temperature, reservoir levels, river flow, and water demand.
Updated October 30, 2023
Effective Oct. 31, The City of Calgary has returned Calgary’s drought conditions to “DRY”. This status update comes after lifting the city-wide outdoor water use restrictions.
Thank you Calgarians for doing your part. Our collective actions through the summer and fall helped tremendously to reduce water demand during drought conditions. These conditions were caused by this year’s low snowpack and early snowmelt. Calgary also saw persistent hot, dry weather conditions and low flows on the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
Conserving water, year-round
We’re still conscious of reducing our water use and will continue to find ways to conserve water through winter. We encourage Calgarians to be conscious of their water use and look for ways to reduce their own demand.
Leaks are a major cause of water waste and unnecessary costs. You can find out how to find and fix leaks, as well as other water use tips at Calgary.ca/waterguide.
Forecasting a dry winter
The forecasts are showing drier-than-normal winter months for the 2023/2024 season, just as we saw last winter.
Because Calgary gets a significant amount of its water supply from mountain snow melt, we'll be monitoring the snowpack and melt through the winter and spring seasons.
We will continue to monitor drought conditions (watershed, operational and regional conditions) and reduce operational water use where we can, through the winter months. It helps sustain Calgary’s water supply in the Glenmore Reservoir through to the spring, supports our neighbours, and keeps good riparian and aquatic health downstream.
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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- Exterior washing of City vehicles and buses will be limited to health and safety considerations.
- 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
Is there a drought in Calgary?
Please refer to the above dial to understand the current conditions in Calgary and our response plan.
Drought Resilience Plan
Calgary’s Drought Resilience Plan will be presented at the Community Development Committee meeting on October 2, 2023. The Drought Resilience Plan sets the long-term direction for proactive drought resilience measures and identifies the key actions we need to take now to build resilience to drought.