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Calgary is big city on two small rivers, the Bow and the Elbow. We depend on our rivers to provide a stable supply of water for more than 1.25 million people living in the region and the businesses that work here – numbers that continue to climb.

Calgary's 30-in-30 Water Efficiency Plan developed in 2005 and updated in 2016, has been a major success and demonstrated our commitment to sustainable water management.

Our goal was to hold the amount of water we take from our rivers steady at the amount we were using in 2003 – 212.5 billion litres - despite our growing population. We committed to reducing our water consumption by 30% over 30 years.

We reached this goal 10 years ahead of schedule thanks to Calgarians’ commitment to using less water.

Calgary needs to continue to invest in water efficiency to ensure that the water needs and water security of our expected population of 2 million is met. This is something that all Calgarians have a stake in. 

We can can be a leader when it comes to water efficiency and water security today and into the future. Together we can make every drop count.


Our rivers are under increasing pressure from a growing population, development and extreme weather ranging from intense rainfall to hotter, drier summers and, shorter, more extreme winters.

Calgary's water use

Calgarians have been working hard to protect our rivers by using and wasting less water and we’ve made great progress.

In 2023, Calgary’s average water demand was roughly 350 litres per person per day. This is in line with the 10 year goal in our Water Efficiency Plan.

This number includes industrial, commercial, and institutional customers like hospitals, food processors, universities, and other water use including flushing of pipes to maintain water quality after repairs, firefighting, and other water losses.

Calgarians use roughly 170 litres per person per day in their homes, below the Canadian average of around 220 litres per person per day.

water use progress

This figure shows water used by residents, businesses and institutions as well as water lost through leaks, unaccounted for or not billed. This total is then divided by the number of people living in Calgary.

Updating our Water Efficiency Plan

We’ve made great progress over the past twenty years, but there’s still more to do. Using water more efficiently is essential to a reliable water supply for future generations, as we face a changing climate, long-term drought conditions and a growing population.

We are working on updating our Water Efficiency Plan in 2024. This is in step with the goals of Calgary’s Drought Resilience Plan.

The new Water Efficiency Plan will:

  • Include new water efficiency targets in line with our growth, availability of water and changing climate
  • Plans and tools for The City and Calgarians to reduce our residential and non-residential water use

Calgarians and our regional partners will have the opportunity to provide feedback on our updated Water Efficiency Plan later this summer and fall.

Benefits of water efficiency

Being water efficient today helps us ensure future generations have the water they need. There are also many benefits water efficiency brings to Calgarians today.

  • Keeps our rivers healthy
  • Save money on treating and delivering water
  • Builds a culture of sustainability and strong communities
  • Reduces pressure on our water treatment infrastructure
  • Saves energy
  • Increases our resiliency to climate change
  • Ensures our downstream neighbours have enough
benefits water

This image shows the benefits of water efficiency including impacts to society, the environment and the economy.

How can Calgarian’s be more water efficient?

In your yard

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

Water wisely

- Avoid watering if there is rain in the forecast

- Water in the early morning and evening

- Start limiting outdoor watering to 4 hours a week.

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.

Install a rain barrel

Capture and reuse any rainwater Mother Nature provides this season.

Add mulch to your garden

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

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.

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.

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.

More information