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Gondek urges Calgarians to keep water usage down amid hot weekend weather

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Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek is asking people to continue conserving water this weekend, warning the hot weather might make it tempting to ignore the restrictions.

"With hot weather this weekend, we need to keep our water usage down, and that means finding smart ways to stay cool," Gondek cautioned during her Friday afternoon update.

Instead of filling up a kiddie pool with water or setting up a Slip 'n Slide in the backyard, the mayor suggests stocking your freezer with popsicles and heading to an air conditioned movie theatre or a gallery.

"While we're now on a six-day streak of keeping our water usage below the threshold, there's also a concerning trend of increased usage over the past few days, and it's expected to be a hot weekend, so let’s make sure that we're trying to conserve water as much as possible.

"Yesterday, we used 460 million litres of water, which is up slightly from Wednesday, and also up a little bit from the day before," she explained.

Speaking to CTV News from a park with his three-year-old daughter, parent Marius Zoicon said it's unfortunate to have the restrictions in place on a hot weekend.

"It’s going be tougher than usual because there’s so many nice options to do when there’s water going around," Zoicon said.

"She’s going to be more bored." 

Instead, Zoicon plans to escape the restrictions by heading out of town.

"We’re going to go to Banff and get away from the city where there’s no water."

He says his family has been conserving water at home, but it has not made a huge impact on their lives so far.  

"It wasn’t so bad. We need to do what we need to do." 

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) chief Sue Henry says this weekend serves as an opportunity for people to “enjoy the summer weather a little bit differently than they normally would have.”

Work on schedule

Gondek says work on the feeder main repairs and hot spots in Montgomery is continuing on as planned.

"Cutting and removing of the hot spots should be completed today," she said, adding that sandblasting and coating of replacement pipe is under way and almost complete.

"Things are looking pretty good for us to hit that July 5 timeline (for completion)."

Gondek says city officials are working on a plan to get citizens, not just businesses, access to non-potable water.

"In the meantime, please continue using your rain barrels and any water that you collect from your yards (for things like watering plants and your lawn).”

"Since the start of this water main break, we've saved nearly two billion litres of water to our typical usage at this time of year," Gondek said.

"This amazing number goes to show how, when we work together, even the small decisions we make amount to a lot."

State of Local Emergency renewed

Henry says a State of Local Emergency put into effect last Saturday was renewed as of 1:15 p.m. on Friday.

Henry says it was renewed to "continue to support our operations, to help us get through the critical stages of these repairs.”

"We're working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore city water."

Both a fire ban and water restrictions remain in effect.

Bylaw numbers

On Friday, Henry said bylaw officers have had 2,300 calls since June 6, and a total of 14 violation tickets have been issued, many of them related to automatic sprinkler systems.

She says bylaw has received a total of 159 calls for service regarding the fire ban, leading to 18 written warnings issued, 66 verbal warnings and five violation tickets.

As of Friday, the total number of calls to 311 in connection with the water crisis was 7,880.

Pipe updates

City of Calgary infrastructure services general manager Michael Thompson said Friday that cutting and removal of the damaged pipe will be completed by the end of the day.

Welding of new parts is also starting Friday.

He said many people have asked if crews discovered any physical damage to pipes as they were dug up.

"On one segment of a hot spot that we removed, we did see some signs of physical damage on the outside of the pipe," Thompson said, though he said he wasn't sure what could have caused the damage.

He said other sections of pipe removed had no signs of cracking.

"You wouldn't know that there was damage."

The pipe that appeared to be damaged and all the other segments of pipe removed are being stored and will be studied during the third-party independent review

Fallout in Hillhurst

While work continues to repair five concerning parts of the feeder main, work of a different kind is affecting residents in the community of Hillhurst, where an entire street is fenced off.

Abandoned diggers and piles of pipes remain at the site of flood mitigation work now paused since the city began dealing with the feeder main break.

"Because of this emergency now in Bowness, they left," said Antoinetta Terrigno. "Who knows when they’llcome back."

"We park all the way down the street. Go for groceries, you have to walk all around, and it’s a problem... hopefully, it will be done soon."

Gondek wants survey of water lines

During her Friday morning update, Gondek said she wants other municipalities to come together to learn all they can from the city's water crisis, which she said could happen anywhere in Canada.

"If it happened in Calgary, it can happen anywhere," she said in her daily address on Friday morning.

Gondek also pledged to reach out to other municipal leaders to make sure what happened to Calgary doesn't happen anywhere else.

"I was in communication with the chair and vice-chair of the Big City Mayors' Caucus, asking them what we can do. I needed to make sure that the experience we had here in Calgary translates into lessons learned and pre-emptive behaviour for other cities as well."

Gondek said she will also ask council about what they can allocate in upcoming budgets for water infrastructure.

"It is my job to advocate for the people of this city and this region, and this is the job that I'm doing," she said Friday.

"Like all of you, I want to have a clear line of sight of our infrastructure under the ground in Calgary."

To do that, she expects to lean on other levels of government to support that work.

"I will be calling in all favours from the provincial and federal governments. They have been generous in saying they have been ready to step up and support as needed."

Second water collection site opens

Calgary got permission from the province to set up two spots along the Bow River where certain businesses can draw water. 

The first water collection site opened Thursday at the West Baker Park boat launch.

A second at the Ogden boat launch opened Friday.

"Absolutely needed, but the amount of water we need is minuscule to some other companies," said Hayden Ewing, owner of Alberta Tropical Plants.

"We mainly focus on interior (plants), so it hadn’t affected us a great deal yet, but exteriors are definitely suffering with all the flowers and all the gardens and stuff like that, so we really appreciate the city stepping in and helping us out here."

Ewing says they had found a solution over the past couple of weeks, but the spot along the Bow River is more convenient.

"We found a source of water prior to this happening, outside the city limits."

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