Calgary Water Main Break Forces Local State of Emergency

By WCTA Staff

A 6’ diameter water main break in Calgary disrupted the entire city’s water supply for over a month affecting residences, businesses, recreation facilities and had many locals and event event-goers alike wondering how the crisis might impact the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’ (the Calgary Stampede), scheduled for July 5 – 14.

It all began June 5, after a large water main supplying more than half of the city’s drinking water failed dramatically, flooding streets in the process.  City Hall was quick to notify Calgarians that a 25% cut of indoor water use was necessary while indoor pools were closed.

Meanwhile, crews found five more weak spots in the main and the City declared a state of local emergency.  The entire affair made international headlines and it wasn’t long before frustrated residents were struggling to understand how this had happened.

To keep information flowing, the City was quick to put up a communication page with answers to many frequently asked questions like, “How does a break like this impact the whole city?” and “Why did it take so long to repair?”  Even the source of the replacement pipe (San Diego) spurred controversy keeping in mind the province is an international oil and gas superpower.

As the situation pertained to golf and sportsfields, residents were especially curious about why City golf courses and parks were still watering. Here’s the posted explanation:

•  The City is using non-potable water to irrigate our five golf course greens and select athletic parks.
•  City crews and contractors are using non-potable water collected from recent rainfall to protect trees, parks, flowers and sport fields.
•  We've turned off all irrigation systems that use potable water. We are using non-potable water in areas where we need to protect turf.

As of July 6th, it (thankfully) looks like the worst is over for Calgarians - here's the official update:

Calgary moves from Stage 4 to Stage 3 water restrictions effective today:

•  Water restrictions eased:  Outdoor hand watering with a watering can or container is allowed. More information on Stage 3 water restrictions here.
•  Fire ban lifted: The fire ban has been lifted, but Calgarians are urged to practice fire safety.
•  Public outdoor pools and spray parks were given an exemption from Stage 3 restrictions, as these facilities help us create safe spaces for all Calgarians looking for relief from the heat. All City wading pools and spray parks are filled with potable water at the beginning of the season and then through a system of filters, recirculate the water the remainder of the season. For spray park and wading pool status and locations, visit For information on community outdoor pool locations and operating hours, visit
•  Street sweeping: Community street sweeping will resume July 8 and is expected to be completed later in July.
•  Water pick-up locations: Now that Calgarians are able to hand-water from their own tap, all residential water pick-up locations will be closed later today. The Ogden location for river water collection will remain open for landscaping businesses.