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From Skates to the Stampede: Water by the Numbers at Sporting and Cultural Events

You know Niagara Falls as one of North America's most well-known natural wonders. The falls earn their fame because of the astounding amount of water that flows over this waterfall.

  • The water falls nearly 10 m (32 feet) per second. That's 65 km (40 miles) per hour!

  • Every second more than 2.5 million L (681,000 gallons) of water drop over the largest waterfall at Niagara Falls, Horseshoe Falls.

  • Numerous hydroelectric power plants at Niagara Falls can generate more than 4 million kilowatts of electricity per year. The generated electricity accounts for one-fourth of all the power used in Ontario and New York State.

  • It's illegal, but 14 people have journeyed over Niagara Falls in barrels. The first to complete the stunt was a 63-year-old school teacher from Michigan.

As a recreational site, Niagara Falls is more enjoyable from boats and observation decks. Visitors come year-round to see the grandeur.

It's impossible to rival the amount of water found at Niagara Falls. But, large amounts of water often accompany other forms of recreation, from festivals and cultural events to winter and summer sports. Check out these facts and figures regarding how people use, measure, and classify huge amounts of water.

Water for Winter Sports

Canadians of all ages enjoy staying active during the winter. Canada has more than 2,600 indoor ice rinks where we can participate in pastimes like hockey, figure skating, and curling.

Ice rinks for these sports vary somewhat in size. It takes about 40,125 L (10,600 gallons) of water to create an NHL-sized hockey rink. In contrast, a curling rink requires around 3,800 L (1,000 gallons) of water. Olympic-sized figure skating rinks are the largest of the three types. They measure 30 m wide (98.4 feet) by 60 m long (197 feet).

Indoor ice rinks require careful temperature control to maintain optimum ice conditions. The most important temperature measurement tracks the air temperature where the ice meets the air. This is known as air/ice interface temperature. Guidelines recommend keeping air/ice interface temperature near these values:

  • For hockey: -5.5 to -3 degrees Celsius (22 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • For figure skating: -4.5 to -1.6 degrees Celsius (24 to 29 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • For curling: -3 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit)

Water for Summer Fun

Fun in and around water happens during the summertime, too. People flock to swimming pools, river rapids, lakes, and oceans, seeking relief from the heat or opportunities for adventure.

If you prefer a controlled environment to splash around in, head to a local swimming pool. Your local pool probably holds more than 100,000 L (26,400 gallons), but some swimming pools are super-sized. You can swim in more than 250 million L (66 million gallons) of water if you ever visit the world's largest pool. It rests right next to the beach at San Alfonso del Mar Resort in Algarrobo, Chile.

Do you prefer a standard pool size? Try an Olympic-sized one. An Olympic swimming pool's dimensions are:

  • Length: 50 m (164 feet 1 inch)

  • Width: 25 m (82 feet)

  • Depth: at least 2 m (6 feet 7 inches); 3 m (9 feet 10 inches) is recommended.

A pool that size has enough room for 2.5 million L (660,000 gallons) of water.

What if you want a watery adventure in a more natural setting? Head out on a rafting or kayaking trip in the Canadian Rockies. Just check the class ratings on the rapids before you head down river. Class 1 and 2 rapids will give you a leisurely ride and time to observe nature; class 4, 5, and 6 rapids will give you a heart-pumping journey downstream.

Water for Big Events

Each year Alberta becomes a backdrop for many large-scale events. These events include film and TV festivals, concerts, theatre performances, and air and car shows. These events attract large crowds, which temporarily raises water demand in the area around the event. Private water services often supplement public sources to ensure that festival attendees have plenty of fresh water available.

No list of Alberta's big events is complete without the Calgary Stampede. Organizers of the Calgary Stampede recognize the need to conserve water, even with more than a million visitors tramping around Stampede Park. Their recent water conservation efforts include:

20 on-site water heaters that operate on demand rather than round the clock

20 urinals that work without water

Yellow fish markers reminding people not to litter on every storm drain that empties into the river

Officials also reported that people at the 2014 Stampede recycled twice as many plastic bottles, including countless water bottles, as in previous years.

No matter how you enjoy using water, from ice rinks to swimming pools to drinking water, remember to do your part to preserve water. As we all conserve water and other natural resources, we can ensure that we'll have water for sporting and cultural events far into the future.

And if you ever build an ice rink, create a swimming pool, or host an event that needs water, choose Alberta Water Services. We care about sustainability to provide your water.

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