Crews work on the water main break in Calgary June 24.

Calgary diocese adapts in face of water emergency

Adaptability is the name of the game for the Diocese of Calgary and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) during the ongoing state of emergency sparked by a rupture in the city’s water main on June 5 and the discovery ten days later of five additional hot spots requiring repair.

Stage 4 outdoor water restrictions are in effect. It is forbidden to water lawns, gardens or flowers with city water, utilize automatic sprinkler systems, wash outdoor surfaces, fill outdoor pools or hot tubs or use water for construction. As for interior conservation, Calgarians are encouraged to take shorter showers, decrease laundry loads, reduce toilet flushing and scrape instead of rinse food off of plates. Violators could receive fines of $3,000 or greater.

Timothy Troy, executive director of business and operations for the diocese, emailed The Catholic Register about several measures initiated at parishes and the Catholic Pastoral Centre to address the water constraints.

Troy wrote that even before the city went to Stage 4, the diocese and member houses of worship had “either significantly cut back or suspended” lawn and garden irrigation. Diocesan leadership is also committed to identifying “more drought-resistant landscaping options.”

Water usage within buildings is also closely monitored. Troy touted that “water consumption at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in downtown Calgary, which is a relatively large building, is now less than 200 (litres) per week.”

Remote working arrangements for certain diocesan staff is also permitted, and priests are encouraged to preach the importance of water conservation to their congregations.

Similar to the diocese’s awareness-raising efforts, Zeljko Dragicevic, the CCIS facilities manager, said the 80 to 90 refugees receiving short-term (two-three weeks) accommodation at the society’s Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre in northeast Calgary are receiving coping tips.

“We are making sure to tell them not to leave the water tap running when washing their hands and to take just one minute or two for a brief shower,” said Dragicevic. “We definitely have to repeat the information because when you are a newcomer to the country, you are bombarded with so much during the orientation session about (creating) a new life in Canada.”

Though undeniably inconvenient, the impact of the restrictions is being alleviated by timely rainfall and the city’s establishment of six sites (as of June 23) throughout the city where residents can pick up non-potable water to use for gardens and plants.

On June 15, Mayor Jyoti Gondek informed citizens it would take three to five weeks to complete all restorations. Just four days later, Michael Thompson, general manager of infrastructure services, told media that work on the five hot spots is proceeding more swiftly than forecast. The arrival of two replacement pipes from San Diego has been instrumental in accelerating the timeline.

July 5 is the target completion date for the repairs, which is the opening day of the Calgary Stampede. On average, the “world’s largest outdoor rodeo” attracts one million visitors every year.

If severe additional complications emerge that cause the timetable for finishing the work to stretch beyond five weeks, Dragicevic said CCIS would consider informing the federal government to send arriving migrants to other cities or towns for resettlement until the state of emergency is lifted.

The Catholic Register


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