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Two additional wire snaps on feeder main not a cause for concern, city officials say

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The City of Calgary is sharing concerns over the increasing amount of water being used by residents, as the newly repaired system is not yet fully operational.

"Yesterday, we used 555 million litres and we anticipate this will increase again today," said Francois Bouchart, City of Calgary director of capital priorities and investments.

On Tuesday, the city said while all the physical repairs are complete, crews are still struggling with stabilizing the water system and that's hindering further progress toward lowering current restrictions.

Watering gardens with a watering can is OK but officials say it is still too early to drop down to Stage 2 outdoor water restrictions.

City-operated public outdoor pools, wading pools and spray parks have been exempted from Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions.

"We will be extending this exemption to all outdoor pools including private residential, backyard and kiddie pools, as well as non-residential outdoor pools," Bouchart said on Wednesday.

"We hope this move creates more opportunities for people to stay cool over the coming weeks."

Bouchart says the city is slowly reintegrating water into the main feeder line, operating at 55 per cent of what it normally handles.

"The process of putting pressure back into the feeder main in our system is risky," he said.

"When we increase water flow and speed, it increases pressure on the walls of the feeder main. Last month, we fixed five hot spots that were of great concern and there are still other areas that we know are structurally weaker."

Bouchart says the last thing residents want is another major break.

"Since Sunday, our monitors have detected two additional wire snaps along the feeder main," he said.

"These two snaps aren't a sign that another major break is imminent but they do give us some important clues about what the pipe can handle and will help inform our decision whether the flow and pressure can be increased."

The city says irrigation systems are still prohibited.

"Watering using sprinklers and irrigation systems continues to be prohibited, except in very specific cases like watering new sod or grass seed," a statement from the city's water services department read.

"We have been in discussion with the Irrigation Association and are continuing to work with them to clarify what work can and can't take place under current restrictions."

NAIAD Irrigation Systems staff say they are losing money.

"The phone stopped ringing so we have no more install quotes," said owner Myles Sidorak.

"So this is going to be a hangover for us that will last years. So this has gone way past what it should have."

Sidorak says the company has not been able to fully operate since June 6.

"Two, three weeks before the Stampede, they were still able to say, 'The show will go on, everything's great,'" he said.

"However, we've been left in the dark the entire time."

Sidorak says there are 250 service projects his company is waiting to do but can't due to restrictions.

"Our money-making months are May and June. That's what we make a lot of money. July and August, we kind of do some installs. We break even," he said.

"Then we do fall blowouts. ... So we've already lost June. So the hope is if we can get back to work soon enough, we can somewhat play catch-up." 

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