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New pipe arrives for water-restricted Calgarians; full service still days away

Calgary's mayor says residents should expect restrictions on their water use to last into the weekend as workers continue work to fix a major pipeline break and restore supply. The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — A new section of water pipe was set to arrive in Calgary on Tuesday, as the city’s mayor urged residents to stay the course, conserve and keep the taps from running dry.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said residents need to keep limiting their water use, including by taking short showers and not watering lawns.

"Everything you're doing matters for all of us," Gondek told reporters at a briefing, as the city of 1.6 million entered a sixth day of voluntary and mandatory rationing.

The measures were imposed after a main feeder pipe – one of two servicing the city – fractured Wednesday, flooding a neighbourhood in the northwest and sending water levels dropping precipitously.

Nancy Mackay, the city's director of water services, said crews have since isolated and removed the broken section of concrete pipe (which is large enough to drive a pickup truck through) and a placement pipe was set to arrive later in the day.

The new pipe is to be installed over two days, but Mackay said it could then take up to three days to flush the entire water main.

Filling the pipe, and testing water quality, could add another two days to the timeline.

"We do not have a date for the restoration of the service," Mackay said.

"However, based on the information we have now, I expect to be able to share a closer date mid-next week.

"We appreciate that this is longer than the minimum timelines perhaps originally understood," she said.

The city has imposed a mandatory ban on outdoor watering, such as lawns and washing windows, while urging Calgarians to voluntarily reduce home usage by reducing toilet flushes, laundry and dishwasher use.

Residents have been asked to reduce their water by about 25 per cent to keep the city's reservoirs from drying up and keeping enough water in reserve to fight fires.

Sue Henry, head of Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said most have been following the restrictions.

But, since they began last Thursday, the city has issued 993 notices. Of those, the city has issued 249 written warnings, 321 verbal warnings and one ticket.

"We are not out of the woods yet, and we ask you to be comfortable making water conservation a part of your daily routine," said Henry.

The city is also under a fire ban.

The pipeline broke in the neighbourhood of Bowness, and the 10,000 residents there were offered fresh water and directed to boil water from the taps. The boil water directive was lifted Monday night.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024.

— By Lisa Johnson in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

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