Calgary Stampede will go on as planned amid water crisis

After a catastrophic water feeder main break cut Calgary off from 60 per cent of its treated water supply on June 5, the portion of the pipe that ruptured was fully repaired over the weekend. Now, the city's focus is on repairing the five hot spots that were identified after robots were sent through the pipe to inspect it.

The City of Calgary closed two new sections of 16th Avenue N.W. at midnight on Monday.

CBC News has learned that all five hot spots are located within those two new closed areas — which are below Bowness Road and 43rd Street N.W., and 45th and 46th streets N.W., respectively.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in her Monday morning update on the city's ongoing water disruptions that repairs on those five hot spots have commenced and will be worked on at the same time.

Stampede will go on

On Monday afternoon, city officials confirmed the ongoing stress on Calgary's water supply won't impact the Calgary Stampede, which is set to take place from July 5 to 14.

Joel Cowley, CEO of the Calgary Stampede, says it's "very important" that the Stampede continue amid the water crisis, citing community and economic impacts.

"The show will go on, and it will go on in a very responsible manner," Cowley said during the Monday afternoon briefing.

He says city officials and Calgary Stampede partners met over the weekend to identify areas where the annual, 10-day event could conserve potable water, and that the festival will be able to alter the way some processes are done in order to limit usage.

"I doubt we'll be washing the grandstand seating that often."

Officials said that with repair work on the initial pipe break completed the site was being backfilled with soil on Sunday.
This week, the city's focus will be repairing the five additional hot spots in the water feeder main. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Gondek said the city is confident it can host the influx of people visiting for the Stampede because the city was able to handle the over 3,000 delegates who just visited for the three-day-long Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference that took place in Calgary from June 6 to 9.

"Calgary is open to visitors, and we look forward to welcoming them in a responsible, safe and sustainable way," said Tourism Calgary president and CEO, Alisha Reynolds.

Help from other municipalities, energy experts

Over the weekend, two roundtables were held with energy sector experts and the city's operations team. Two more of these roundtable sessions will be held, says the mayor.

"Collaborating with experts behind the scenes has been incredibly beneficial to us."

The mayor also says the city has now engaged with six private companies: Standard General, Volker Stevin, Whissell Contracting, LBCO Contracting, Associated Engineering and Pure Technologies.

The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) helped source this piece of feeder main pipe, which the City of Calgary says currently being transported and will be arrive this week.
The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) helped source this piece of feeder main pipe, which the City of Calgary says is being transported and will be arrive this week. (@cityofcalgary/X)

The city says it has contacted various municipalities across North America in order to secure the parts needed to repair the pipe.

"Those parts are either on their way or they are already here," said Gondek.

While the three- to five-week timeframe for repairs remains, Gondek says the heavy duty equipment needed for the repairs would be arriving Monday.

"We knew we had to take a bold approach to get this pipe fixed," she said.

New low for weekend water consumption

After declaring a state of local emergency on Saturday, city officials continue urging residents to use less water.

Gondek says the city has been in touch with more than 700 commercial users to ask them to lower their water consumption.

However, the focus still remains on individual water users, as Gondek says residents make up roughly two-thirds of the city's water use.

She says one fewer toilet flush per household could save the city roughly 12.5 million litres of water.

But on Monday morning, she thanked Calgarians and residents of surrounding communities such as Tsuut'ina Nation, Strathmore, Airdrie and Chestermere for limiting their water use.

As of Friday morning, bylaw officers had attended eight calls for fires and 56 calls for misuse of water, according to the City of Calgary.
In Calgary, Stage 4 water restrictions remain in place. (Helen Pike/CBC)

According to the mayor, consumption over the weekend lowered.

Just 438 million litres were consumed on Saturday, and 439 million litres on Sunday. Gondek says the threshold for consumption that the city must remain below is 480 million litres.

She says usage exceeded that threshold last Wednesday.

The mayor says that, after consulting with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver and Calgary's emergency management team, declaring a state of local emergency was a "necessary step."


LISTEN | Calgary's mayor discusses businesses and water consumption:

In an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener before her morning briefing, Gondek told CBC Radio host Loren McGinnis that many businesses have been doing their part in terms of water consumption.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a post made to X that he had spoken with Gondek about Calgary's ongoing water issues.

Stage 4 water restrictions and a citywide fire ban remain in place, as well as multiple road closures along 16th Avenue N.W.

As of Monday afternoon, city officials say two violation tickets for water use have been issued. Four violation tickets have been issued in response to the fire ban.

Hundreds of written and verbal warnings have been issued by bylaw officers.