As critical water supply issues worsen, Calgary mayor says indoor mandatory restrictions may be considered

If water usage in Calgary continues at its current rate, the city could be forced to bring in mandatory indoor water restrictions, the mayor said Friday, calling the situation  "urgent and catastrophic."

Jyoti Gondek delivered that message Friday morning during an update on the latest water main break developments as part of a plea for better conservation efforts from residents.

"We don't know what that looks like, I really don't want to get to that stage," Gondek said. "But if we can't do our part by banding together, there may be some restrictions that come into place."

The Bearspaw south water main, which is 11 kilometres long and as wide as two metres in parts, suffered a break on June 5 that temporarily left hundreds of homes and businesses in the city's northwest without water. The pipe failure triggered a fire ban and mandatory outdoor water restrictions.

Work was paused on the site of a water main break after two people were injured.
Work was paused on the site of a water main break after two people were injured. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Water usage has been increasing every day since Saturday, three days after the pipe broke. On Thursday, 480 million litres — considered the sustainable threshold — was used across the city.

That's less than the amount used the previous day, but according to the mayor, it's not enough.

"If our water usage continues to trend up and our water can't keep up, the taps will run dry at some point," Gondek said.

There's still no timeline for when that could happen, or how many days of water supply the city has, but the mayor did have a response for those wondering.

"The only answer that the more water we use, the sooner those taps run dry," Gondek said. "You and I, we cannot give up on our conservation efforts right now. We need to do better."

Work on the feeder main site was temporarily paused overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning when two people were injured on site. Repair work began again on Thursday afternoon.

The work stoppage delayed the repairs, but there is still no definitive timeline for when they will mend the main and fully restore water back to the city.

On Thursday, Francois Bouchart, the director of capital priorities and investment with the city's infrastructure services department, said progress has been made on fixing the water main. He said crews are also working on finding out what went wrong to cause the pipe to burst.

The priority, however, remains to restore full water service.