Down the Drain no more – Practical Reuse Leads Water Conservation Efforts in Calgary

example of a rainwater housing system
example of a rainwater housing system

Calgary – Reusing waste water instead of sending it down the drain is one way The City demonstrates leadership in water conservation and sustainability. The City is leading not only by example, but also at the regulatory level.

Inspections & Permit Services is a group that has always helped businesses, builders and homeowners navigate the world of green building and sustainable design practices. However, one thing that was missing was the provincial Plumbing Code was the allowance of reclaimed water* usage. That was until August of this year when Municipal Affairs issued a variance to the Plumbing Code – a result of The City of Calgary and other municipalities working towards a change.

“It is important to lead conservation discussions, while at the same time, thinking about the health aspect,” explains Richard Burk, Operational Supervisor, Inspection and Permit Services. In addition to helping enact this change, Richard chaired the task group that created the guidelines all municipalities must follow to work to regulate acceptable reclaimed waste water systems.

“On a day-to-day basis, we enforce the rules set down by the province. We work with home owners, plumbers and engineers to advise on provincial and national codes and standards to ensure [the] correct plans for the implementation of green technologies are being used,” says Richard.

water distribution system
water distribution system

If a business or homeowner wants to install a reclaimed water system, Inspections & Permit Services reviews the plans submitted under the application for a plumbing permit. Once the plans are approved, an inspection is completed upon installation to make sure the system is good to go.

Businesses are jumping on board to save money and water. The new Calgary Airport terminal has included reclaimed water systems in their design and the Calgary South Hospital is using water from water softening equipment to flush toilets and urinals. The new Telus Sky tower is also looking at incorporating reclaimed water into its design. And The City? We’re now able to start using reclaimed water to wash garbage trucks.

“Solutions like this help alleviate stress and add years of service to City facilities. It is important to be able to use our sustainable design practices in order to benefit the environment and reduce demand on infrastructure,” says Richard.

Permit requirements for installing sustainable technology

Depending on the construction processes involved and Land Use Bylaw rules, the installation of a sustainable technology system may require a development permit, building permit and/or trade permits (electrical, heating, plumbing). For more information, please contact the Planning Services Support Centre at 403-268-5311.

Other information regarding water reuse

Check out The City commitment to reduce water consumption (in 2002) by 30 per cent over 30 years.
Check out the Rainwater Harvesting Guide which outlines the best practices for rainwater harvesting systems in the City of Calgary.

*Reclaimed water is the practice of treating wastewater to remove all impurities to meet commercial and industrial water needs, such as toilet and urinal flushing and car washes. Reclaimed water is water that is used more than one time before it passes back into the natural water cycle promoting water conservation and sustainability. 

Source City of Calgary