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State of local emergency called as Cochrane, Alta., residents could run out of water


Officials in Cochrane, Alta., say water levels in the community's reservoirs are very low, meaning some residents could run out of water.

The town says it has declared a state of local emergency over the issue, which began on Oct. 21 when a contractor punctured a sewage and water line.

The new measure, which allows the town to "take extraordinary actions," comes after Cochrane put mandatory water conservation rules in place earlier this week.

"All Cochrane residents and businesses must adhere to emergency mandatory water conservation," the town said in a statement.

Officials said drinking water supplies for Cochrane and Calgary are safe, but the issue has disrupted the town's ability to supply water.

“Water quality is not our problem, water quantity is our problem,” Shawn Polley, Cochrane's emergency co-ordination centre director, said Tuesday.

In response, several businesses have restricted their water use and residents were told to do the same, but the town says some aren't fully on board yet.

“We had initially put water restrictions in place and that’s not working, to be quite frank,” Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung said Tuesday.

“Yesterday, we saw the single-highest water use day in the month of October by our residents and it was not related to the leak, it was people consuming water from our reservoirs.”

Polley said the situation could become dire for some residents.

"If water consumption continues at current levels, we anticipate that some communities may soon be without water," he said in a news release.

 Town crews have been actively monitoring levels in the water reservoirs. A noticeable decrease overnight contributed to the decision to enact the state of emergency.

“Overnight, town crews saw significant water depletion in Cochrane’s reservoir supply, leaving water levels at a critical state,” Polley told reporters Tuesday.

“These levels directly impact our ability to provide water to the community and ensure we have the required water resources to support our citizens and our emergency fire response.”

It could also impact the fire department's ability to fight fires.

The sewage leak was stopped on Monday and while officials aren't sure how much leaked into the river, they estimate it was a "significant" amount.

Water restrictions may remain in place for days, the town said.

Cochrane says it is working with regional partners in the response.

Cochrane is approximately 36 kilometres northwest of Calgary. Top Stories

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