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'The show will go on': Calgary Stampede will proceed despite water restrictions

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The Calgary Stampede will go on as the city continues work to repair a major water main over the next few weeks – overlapping with the annual event.

The city estimates it will take three to five weeks for repairs to be completed and restrictions to be lifted.

During an update on Monday afternoon, city officials emphasized that summer, and its many events in Calgary, is not “cancelled.”

“We have been working with the event organizers to make sure they don’t impact our water use during this critical time,” Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) acting chief Coby Duerr said.

“Similar to the 2013 floods, the 2024 Stampede won’t be cancelled, it just might look a little different.”

The city is currently under stage four outdoor water restrictions, which ban all outdoor water use. Voluntary indoor restrictions are also in place, encouraging residents to reduce their water usage at home.

The city has been working with the Stampede to develop contingency plans to try to reduce the impact of water use.

“We reviewed the five-year daily water demand trend during Stampede week and we aren’t seeing a significant uptick in demand noted during past years,” Duerr said.

The city said the lack of an increase in water use during Stampede is likely due to it being a popular time for Calgarians to travel, and the rain storms the city often receives in early July.

“It’s important (the Calgary Stampede) moves on, for a number of reasons, the least of which is not the $282 million of economic impact generated for the province of Alberta during that 10-day festival,” Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley said.

“As such, the show will go on, but it will go on in a very responsible manner.”

The Stampede team met to identify the locations on Stampede Park that use water and Cowley said the event will seek to offset the use of Calgary treated water in those areas.

Some of those offsets include finding uses for non-potable water and transporting in some treated water where needed. Non-potable water can be used to wet the race track and rodeo infield, water the 1,000 livestock on site each day and for some cleaning applications.

“In instances where we have no choice but to use Calgary treated water, we will certainly implement conservation measures in that regard,” Cowley said.

The city is encouraging any visitors coming to Calgary to enjoy their time, but to follow the water restrictions.

“Follow all of our restrictions, make every drop count,” Duerr said.

Tourism Calgary said it will be engaging with its partners to share water conservation best practices.

“So we are able to sustainably and responsibly welcome visitors while still providing that great guest experience and continuing to support the industry and our local community as we head into summer,” Alisha Reynolds, the president and CEO of Tourism Calgary, said.

According to Calgary Tourism, 138,000 people are expected to come to the city to stay in hotels over the course of Stampede.

Hotels are asking guests to limit shower times, reduce the amount of linens being used and take dirty laundry home instead of washing it in Calgary.

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