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Calgary businesses to be allowed to use river water during crisis

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Calgary businesses whose workflow has run dry under the current restrictions related to a water main repair have been given a break by the city.

Officials say Calgary has applied for and been granted two temporary diversion licences (TDLs) to use water from the Bow River for industrial purposes.

This means that commercial users will be able to access supplies of non-potable water at two locations along the river.

The TDLs allow the city to draw 200,000 cubic metres or 200 million litres of water in total.

"This temporary diversion of non-potable water will help reduce pressure on the potable water system that is stressed due to the line break," said Ryan Fournier, press secretary to Alberta Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz.

"(It) is up to the City of Calgary to track and manage water withdrawals and access."

There is no information about where on the river the water will be drawn from but, according to the provincial guidelines on TDLs, they must "have minimal impact on the aquatic environment."

"Recommended sources are: surface runoff dugouts, sloughs and non-fish-bearing lakes and creeks. Fish-bearing lakes and creeks are least recommended," the Alberta government's TDL documentation reads.

TDLs are not required for statutory household use, traditional agriculture use, firefighting, wells equipped with hand pumps, operating alternative watering systems for surface water for livestock that are generally grazed, dugouts that collect surface runoff, hydrostatic testing of pipelines for water diversions up to 30,000 cubic metres and other uses exempted under the Water Act.

Anyone who diverts water without a TDL from the provincial government may face a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual and up to $500,000 for a corporation.

(With files from Kevin Green)

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