Sustainable Action Canmore: Water Use

Did You Know?

The Town of Canmore has an Environmental Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP). Its goal for water: By 2035, to reduce residential water consumption by 50% per-capita from 2000 levels. You can help by reducing the amount of water you use and keeping Canmore’s water clean.

Water conservation is an important practice, as water is a finite resource, and water and wastewater treatment requires significant amounts of energy and expense.

Can You Drink Canmore’s Tap Water?

Yes. Canmore produces high quality tap water that meets or exceeds provincial operating regulations.

Where Does Canmore’s Water Come From?

Canmore’s drinking water does not come from the Bow River, but from two other sources:

  • Groundwater – the underground aquifer that flows beneath the town and is connected to the Bow River and
  • The Rundle Forebay, a reservoir near the Canmore Nordic Centre which gets most of its water comes from the Spray Lakes reservoir in Kananaskis Country.

Homes and businesses on the west side of the Bow River and in most of central Canmore receive water from the Rundle Forebay. It is sent to Pumphouse No. 2 where it’s filtered and treated with chlorine, gravity filtration and ultraviolet light disinfection.

Homes and businesses on the east side of the TransCanada Highway receive water from two downtown wells. It is sent to Pumphouse No. 1 and treated with chlorine. Treated water is stored in six underground reservoirs until distribution.

Canmore produces more than 2.6 million cubic metres of drinking water each year, and delivers it through more than 100 kilometres of pipes to all parts of town and to nearby Harvie Heights.

Where Does Canmore’s Water Go?

Into home drains as wastewater, then to the Town of Canmore Wastewater Treatment Plant The Town’s wastewater collection network consists of more than 90 kilometres of gravity and pressure sewer pipes that eventually lead to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The Waste Water Treatment Plant has a capacity of 22 million litres per day. The treatment process includes screening of solids and clarification followed by biological aerated filtration and finally by UV disinfection. The treated waste water is then discharged from Canmore’s Waste Water Treatment Plant into the Bow River. Downstream the Bow River flows into the City of Calgary, smaller communities, and agricultural areas of Alberta and beyond, all the way to Hudson’s Bay.

As the treated effluent from Canmore’s Waste Water Treatment Plant is discharged into the Bow River it is important to ensure that it is reliably treated to the highest standards to maintain the health of the river and water quality for downstream users and aquatic life.

Into storm drains as stormwater
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow. It flows from rooftops, over paved streets, sidewalks and parking lots, across bare soil and lawns and into storm drains. As it flows, runoff collects and transports soil, pet waste, road salt and sand, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, soaps and detergents, litter and a host of other pollutants. Stormwater drains directly into nearby creeks, streams and rivers without receiving treatment at a wastewater treatment plant.

The Town of Canmore has approximately 35 km of storm sewers. Most of these are located in the newer subdivisions on the east side of the Trans Canada Highway and west side of the river. Due to the very flat terrain on the valley floor, the older sections of Town do not have storm sewers. In these areas, storm water is collected via drywells which allow the storm runoff to percolate down into the ground and ultimately reach the water table. A number of these drywells are located within the Town’s groundwater protection zone, resulting in a potential risk to the quality of groundwater resources.

As stormwater carries sediment and contaminants directly to local creeks, streams and rivers without being treated, it is particularly important to minimize individual impacts.

Is There Fluoride in Canmore’s Water?

Some fluoride is naturally occurring in the local ground and surface waters, however additional fluoride is not added to the water system in Canmore.

Keeping Canmore’s Water Clean

Above or below ground, Canmore’s waterways are vulnerable to pollution. We can help to keep our water as pure as possible by reducing and properly disposing of waste:

Car Washing and Maintenance

  • Take vehicles to a commercial car wash. Wash water contains residues from soaps, exhaust fumes, gasoline, oils and heavy metals. These facilities discharge used wash water into the sanitary sewer where it is treated at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • If washing a vehicle at home, use biodegradable soap, a bucket and sponge (dump wash water into a sink or toilet when finished) rather than a running hose and wash it on a grassy or gravel area, where the wash water will soak into the soil.
  • Have vehicles serviced regularly to avoid fluid leaks. If you do this work yourself place a drip pan or tarp underneath to catch drips and spills.
  • Recycle your used oil, oil filters and antifreeze at the Town of Canmore Recycling Depot (115 Boulder Crescent).

Yard and Garden

  • Use slow release, natural fertilizers such as compost and low toxicity pest control products like insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils.
  • Mow the grass high (2 inches). Tall grass develops a deep root system, and prevents weeds from sprouting. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to act as a fertilizer.
  • Mulch and seed bare soil as soon as possible, before rainfall.
  • Make a commitment to keep, or make, your yard healthy. Take the “My Yard is Pesticide Free pledge”.

Around the House

  • Sweep driveways and garages clean rather than washing with a hose and draining out to the street.
  • Firmly seal and store all used chemicals and paints and dispose of excess material at a community Toxic Round-up Event. Clean brushes by wiping excess paint with a rag and then rinsing in a sink.


  • Clean-up pet waste from your yard regularly.
  • Carry a bag with you when taking your dog for a walk and always pick-up after your pet. Throw pet waste into a garbage bin for disposal.

Reducing Water Use

Plumbing and appliances

  • Install low flow aerators on faucets to save up to 40% of water used for hand washing.
  • Replace standard shower heads with low flow shower heads to save up to 50% of water used for showering.
  • Replace standard toilets with low flow or dual flush toilets to save up to 50% of water used for flushing.
  • Replace standard top load washing machines with front load washers to save up to 25% of water used for clothes washing.
  • Check plumbing for leaks and repair quickly: One leaky toilet can waste as much as 20 m3 per day.

Low or no cost measures

  • Use less water per bath or take shorter showers
  • Turn taps off while brushing teeth, washing hands and face or shaving
  • Use the suds saver feature on washing machines or other appliances
  • Refrigerate tap water for drinking
  • Only use washing machines and dishwashers with full loads

Fix Leaks
Leaks can end up causing extremely high bills. If you are aware of any type of water leak in your house you should repair it immediately because it could save you money
Looking for a plumber to help you fix leaks, install low-flow toilets or on demand water heaters? Search the Canmore Business Directory.


  • Water only as needed. One inch of water, once per week (including rainfall), is generally enough to keep a lawn healthy.
  • Water in the early morning or evening to avoid water loss due to evaporation.
  • Use a rain barrel (or 2) to catch and recycle rainwater. Direct the downspouts onto lawns and away from paved surfaces.
  • Choose native and locally adapted plants and grasses which are naturally resistant to local insects and diseases and require far less water.
  • For an example of a local native garden visit the Town of Canmore garden planted by the car bridge over the Bow River.
Town of Canmore

Thanks to Christian Dubois, Christopher Vincent and Charlie Bredo for all their help in preparing the materials.

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.
Sydney Smith