This week will be critically important for the ongoing repairs to Calgary's South Bearspaw water feeder main, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said on Monday afternoon.

"... With the installing of pipe and backfilling of excavations expected soon. Once that's done, crews can begin testing and returning the feeder main to full service. When the team is ready to add water to the pipe, it's going to be a staged easing of getting that pipe, as well as the rest of the system, back to normal operation," she said. 

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Sue Henry also noted that all needed pipes and construction materials are now on site. 

Mayor Gondek also extended her thanks to surrounding communities that have been impacted by the water feeder main break, which has resulted in temporary outdoor water bans.

"I'd like to thank the good people of Calgary, Airdrie, Tsuut'ina NationChestermere and Strathmore for how you have banded together over the last few weeks," she said. "You've been able to conserve an average of 22 per cent less water than usual and that's not quite the quarter that we were hoping for, but we're almost there."

On Sunday water consumption rose to 462 million litres, although this is below the threshold, it is higher than Saturday's water usage.

"We've been saying conserving water is essential to making sure that we have enough water in situations where there are life-saving efforts needed either in hospital or care facilities or in firefighting missions. Like overnight, there was a two-alarm fire in the community of Prestwick in a condo building, and it caused the evacuation of dozens of families," Mayor Gondek noted.

She said that the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) used more than three million litres of water to battle the blaze. 

"As a result of the fire, we were able to see an impact on our system. The community is supplied out of the South Glenmore Reservoir and with the help of water crews, we were able to maintain levels in the reservoir to an acceptable level throughout the night," Henry added. "The water-saving efforts that everyone has made, have allowed us to respond to this large fire and still have adequate storage to continue supporting others' essential usage."

Condo complex fire in Calgary's Southeast

On Sunday night at approximately 10 p.m., CFD crews responded to reports of a structure fire at the Prestwick Villas Southeast condo complex. A second alarm was called to ensure adequate resources on the scene.

"As we're responding to fires these days, it's always a little bit of a hesitancy for us, as we consider what kind of water that we're going to get out of those hydrants," said CFD Acting Chief Deb Bergeson. "Our crews were able to tie into those hydrants and thanks to the water preservation - and the efforts of Calgarians - to make sure that the reservoir levels were adequate; we were able to have the water that we needed to fight those fires."

According to a city release, upon arrival, fire crews faced significant smoke and flame from an exterior corner and soon after, the entire roof of one of the buildings.

"Firefighters quickly initiated an exterior fire attack with master streams, both from the ground and from an elevated position on aerial apparatus. Interior attacks and searches were conducted in coordination with the exterior efforts."

Residences on all sides were protected by crews operating exposure lines. An entire building (48 units) suffered severe damage to the top floor and roof due to the fire. Water damage is also significant throughout the structure.

"Red Cross has set up a reception center and is assessing displaced residents’ needs at the time of this release, with CPS and AHS assisting. Transit has supplied buses to shelter residents while being assessed. There are no reports of injuries at the scene."

Fire crews including a fire investigator remain on scene to ensure there is no fire extension and to confirm extinguishment. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

"Much of that safety to our firefighters, and safety to the people that we were evacuating shouldn't be attributed to the people who are saving water for us to do our job," Bergeson added. 

Calgary's non-potable options for residents and commercial users

According to a City of Calgary news release, two commercial pick-up sites for non-potable river water were opened for use on Friday, one at West Baker Park and the other in Ogden, for businesses doing work that requires dust control, compacting of dirt or gravel surfaces and establishing new landscaping projects.

"These businesses picked up approximately 336,280 litres from both sites as of Sunday."

On Sunday, The City expanded our program to make non-potable river water available to all Calgarians. It can be picked up free of charge at the following locations:

  • Ogden boat launch
  • West Baker Park boat launch
  • Bishop O’Bryne High School
  • The Genesis Centre
  • Ambrose University
  • Spy Hill Landfill

This water can be used for garden vegetables, flowers, and outdoor and indoor plants.

"Please wash your vegetables thoroughly before consuming. This water can also be used for handwashing, if it is boiled for one minute, and cleaning, but not for surfaces or dishes in contact with food. You must bring your container to hold the water so choose your container wisely. To ensure there is a fair opportunity for all Calgarians, you can take up to 25 gallons or 100 litres of water."

Roads and Mobility

Access to all businesses in the area is currently being maintained and Bowness and Montgomery businesses are open. 

The following traffic impacts will be in effect until the completion of the feeder main repairs:

  • Westbound lanes along 16 Avenue Northwest from 49 Street Northwest to Home Road have reopened today. Eastbound lanes are open.
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 46 Street Northwest and 45 Street Northwest
  • 16 Avenue Northwest will be closed in both directions from 43 Street Northwest to Bowness Road Northwest
  • East/West traffic will be detoured onto Bowness Road. Expect delays.
  • The eastbound detour starts at 46 Street to Bowness Road and re-enters 16 Avenue at the Shaganappi Trail interchange