No showers or baths, washing dishes, or watering gardens – Calgary in Western Canada on Thursday ordered citywide extreme water rationing after a major water pipe broke. A “critical water supply alert” was issued to mobile phones and to broadcasters, warning that water levels had “reached a critical state” affecting the city’s ability to supply residents and be ready for fire emergencies.

The notice ordered all households and businesses in the city of 1.4 million people to conserve water. Mayor Jyoti Gondek urged “skipping a shower or a bath or a load of dishes or laundry.”

Images on social media and television showed motorists and cyclists navigating through flooded streets due to the break. Portable toilets were set up and bottled water was being distributed.

“Every drop of water will count until we get this repair done. We need everyone in the city to pull together,” Sue Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, told a news conference.

The cause of the burst pipe was not immediately known. Henry said it could take an “extended period of time” to fix.

The province of Alberta is facing a drought, but the Bow River, from which Calgary draws its water, has seen improved conditions this spring.

Le Monde with AFP