Chestermere and Strathmore — with 25,000 and 15,000 residents, respectively — both get their water from a water line that runs 43 kilometres between Calgary and Strathmore

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Calgary’s water flows far beyond the city limits, as do the repercussions of crises with its sprawling underground network of water pipes.

Two Calgary bedroom communities, Chestermere and Airdrie, get their water from pipes that extend outward from the big city. But the system extends even farther to the Town of Strathmore, more than 60 kilometres away from the Bearspaw feeder main pipe that burst on June 5 in northwest Calgary, causing a water crisis across the region.

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Despite the distance, residents of all three communities are in the same boat as Calgarians when it comes to restrictions on outdoor water use over the last two weeks and face the same timeline of up to five weeks for a fix.

Chestermere and Strathmore — with 25,000 and 15,000 residents, respectively — both get their water from a water line that runs 43 kilometres between Calgary and Strathmore.

“We’ve had really, really good response from our residents,” said Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, noting an average of 23 per cent reduction in water use since June 5 — just shy of the 25 per cent target oft-repeated by Calgary officials.

Fule says the town has shut down its aquatic centre, closed a splash park and is using non-potable water to water plants. It’s also shuttered its wash bay for city vehicles and stopped any street sweeping.

The City of Chestermere is using similar practices to reduce water consumption by its city crews. City-wide water use fell by a record 28 per cent last Saturday and has hovered in the low to mid-20s throughout the crisis.

Chestermere, Strathmore residents and businesses stepping up

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Both communities have implemented a bar on outdoor watering and voluntary indoor restrictions mirroring Calgary’s Stage 4 water restrictions. Chestermere, like Calgary, has also implemented a fire ban, though no such restriction is in effect in Strathmore.

“Although we’re not the City of Calgary, all of our restrictions are going to be the same,” said Chestermere communications manager Ty Tomasta, pointing to the service agreement that stipulates Chestermere mimic Calgary’s water-use restrictions.

Tomasta said that in Chestermere, the onus for water conservation largely rests on residents due to the city’s limited commercial base. However, both residents and businesses have stepped up during the city’s — and the region’s — time of need.

“We’ve seen people getting creative with their water barrels. We’ve seen how keen people are being about conserving water, about making sure they’re doing full loads of laundry about . . . not doing your dishes,” he said. “Some of these things are really easy to do, but again, we’re just so so grateful for the support that we’ve seen from Chestermere residents.”

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Fule says Strathmore businesses have risen to the occasion, with local car dealerships refraining from washing vehicles and car washes shuttering their water-heavy automatic washers.

“Some of our businesses have reduced their water usage by up to 50 per cent,” he said.

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Both municipalities went to work immediately after the main break in Calgary, communicating to residents that despite the distance, they’d also need to make changes. Tomasta said it’s important to paint the picture to residents as to where their water comes from and what the system looks like.

“That’s one we’re constantly trying to educate individuals about,” said Tomasta. “A lot of people don’t understand the system that is in place and how Chestermere gets its water and how water even further goes to Strathmore. And so that’s sort of a battle that we’re constantly fighting.”

Fule said Strathmore always aims to be a good collaborator regarding the system that gives its residents water and has been constantly working with Calgary, Chestermere and other area partners throughout the crisis.

“We’re trying to really be good stewards of the water and to really step up at this time to help reduce our use,” said Fule.

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