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Here's what you can and cannot do amid Calgary's water crisis


As Calgary continues to deal with a water crisis amid a critical water main break, many people may be confused about what they can and cannot do, and how they can help conserve water.

Here's a rundown of the water use restrictions in place for all of Calgary as of Tuesday, June 11, 2024:

All outdoor water use is currently banned because the city is operating under Stage 4 water restrictions. This means don't:

  • Water lawns, gardens, flowers, trees, and shrubs using city water;
  • Wash any outdoor surfaces, including exterior building surfaces, windows, sidewalks, driveways, or walkways of any sort unless your business requires to do so for health and safety reasons;
  • Fill outdoor decorative features, fountains, pools or hot tubs; and
  • Use water for construction purposes such as grading, compaction, or dust control. 

A fire ban is also in effect, which means the following are prohibited:

  • Open fires;
  • Fire pits;
  • Gas or propane fire pits;
  • Outdoor chimeneas;
  • Recreational solid fuel barbecues and stoves (charcoal briquettes or wood);
  • Tiki torches; and
  • Patio heaters (propane, catalytic or infrared/radiant).

Despite the fire ban, the following are currently allowed:

  • Gas or propane stoves and barbeques that are CSA approved or ULC certified for cooking purposes; and
  • Approved commercial solid fuel cooking appliances. (e.g. BBQ and Pizza establishments/vendors).

The City of Calgary is also encouraging residents to follow the following voluntary water restrictions:

  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when required and with full loads;
  • Limit showers to three minutes or less and keep baths shallow if you’re able to do so;
  • Turn off humidifiers, ice machines and automatic sprinkler systems;
  • Scrape your plate clean rather than rinsing off food;
  • Wash vegetables and fruit in a partially filled sink or pot and then rinse them quickly;
  • Keep a jug of drinking water in your fridge and don’t run the tap to get ice-cold water; and
  • Turn off the tap when brushing teeth or shaving.

The City of Calgary is also encouraging residents to follow voluntary water restrictions.

"If we don’t stick to using less water, the reality is we may run out of water," warned Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Monday.

"You could turn on a tap and nothing will come out. That is the reality. It’s not a scene out of a movie anymore."

Chefs with ATCO’s Blue Flame Kitchen suggest an easy way to conserve water is to stay away from cooking pasta, soups or dried beans.

Alternatively, you can use boxes of chicken or beef stock for cooking those items.  

Ultimately, it’s hard to be food safe without water, but using your barbeque to cook can also help cut down on the number of dishes used.

Businesses that use large volumes of non-essential water, such as laundromats or car washes,  are also being asked to reduce their water use where possible.

According to the city's website, businesses using water to deliver a product or service that is "life sustaining for people, animals and plants for sale and not yet planted" are exempt.

"Other exemptions include any businesses that must use water to meet health code standards, such as hospitals and restaurants."

For more information on Calgary's critical water main break, you can visit the City of Calgary's website. Top Stories

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