The City of Calgary is building drought resilience by exploring water conservation strategies. PHOTO: ENGIN AKYURT/UNSPLASH

With climate change increasing the chance of future droughts in Calgary, city officials are looking for input on water-saving strategies through a new survey. 

Pamela Duncan, a team lead of water resource strategy with the City of Calgary, says climate change is causing longer, hotter and drier summers. 

“That’s going to push up the evapotranspiration and how much water we’re going to need for all our activities,” she says. “Both humans and all the plants and animals are going to need more water to thrive.”

Duncan says warmer winters cause less snow to be saved as water for the summer. Calgary’s rivers will also see the impact of climate change, as runoff earlier in the spring is harder to capture. 

Israel Dunmade, a professor of sustainable engineering at Mount Royal University, notes a significant amount of water is needed for consumption, agriculture, electricity generation and industrial purposes. 

“In order to ensure that water is available in a sufficient manner and quality for various uses, there’s a need for us to manage the water resources appropriately by conserving the water to make it available for those areas.” 

He feels it’s important for Calgarians to understand water is a replenishable resource — as long as we’re careful with it, noting if you dig a well and pump water from it faster than it can refill, you eventually will run it dry.  

“If [water] is well managed, it’ll be available continuously, but if it is not, then you find out that it’ll dry up,” Dunmade says. 

Since the city’s drought resilience plan requires participation and support from Calgarians, Duncan hopes the survey will help build awareness while also helping people share their opinions. 

The city’s potential strategies for water conservation include an outdoor water schedule, a landscaping incentive program, diversifying water supply and paying a premium if extra fresh drinking water is wanted. 

“We want to raise awareness about drought risk, and how important it is to build drought resilience for the future so that our homes, our gardens, our businesses, our park spaces can continue to thrive in a dryer climate in the future. And we need everybody to participate.”

Calgarians can learn more about the plan and provide feedback on the City of Calgary website.

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