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Calgary water crisis: Mayor says citizens can ‘ease’ back to normal indoor water use

Nearly a month after Calgary’s water supply crisis began, Mayor Jyoti Gondek announced “much needed good news” on Tuesday. Citizens are now allowed to resume normal indoor water usage, though they are urged to “ease” into it.

“(Today) is a very big day,” Gondek stated at a news conference, attended by Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver and Michael Thompson, the City of Calgary’s general manager of infrastructure services. “We are one giant step closer to restoring full water usage to all of you.”

Although indoor water use was never officially restricted, city officials had urged Calgarians to conserve water indoors to prevent depleting the city’s supply. Restrictions on outdoor water use and a fire ban remained in effect as of Tuesday.

Gondek explained that the Bearspaw feeder main, which suffered catastrophic damage on June 5, is now operating at 50% capacity. Testing and monitoring are ongoing.

“The reductions you have been doing at home are not needed anymore, so you can return to using water inside your home the way that you were used to,” Gondek told reporters. However, McIver reminded Calgarians that the city is “not completely out of the woods yet,” even if Tuesday’s announcement brought some relief.

The water crisis also led to restrictions in nearby municipalities relying on Calgary’s water supply.

Gondek confirmed that Calgarians can resume regular indoor water use but encouraged continued conservation by postponing dish and laundry loads until water service fully normalizes. Thompson described the announcement as an “exciting milestone” but stressed the need for residents to gradually increase their water usage to avoid straining the system.

The announcement precedes the start of the Calgary Stampede on Friday, an event that attracts many tourists. Gondek noted that a state of local emergency remains in effect, and no timeline has been set for lifting outdoor water restrictions.

McIver acknowledged the crisis as an “unexpected expense” and anticipates the city will discuss financial costs with the province.

The northwest water main break last month led to outdoor water use restrictions as the city worked to prevent demand from exceeding supply. The repair process revealed five additional weak spots in the pipeline, complicating the task.

Crews are currently pressurizing the repaired water main after several days of tests and checks. On Monday, Gondek said Alberta Health Services’ tests confirmed the water met quality guidelines following the repairs. However, she cautioned that the pressurization step carries risks, so crews will proceed carefully.

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