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Glacier ice is disappearing at an alarming rate and Calgary could be one of the first affected.

Vanishing glaciers force Albertans to reassess their water use

Thursday, April 9, 2015, 12:21 PM - As glacier ice continues to disappear in B.C. and Alberta, a local ecologist is asking residents to see this as a wake-up call.

It's time people started thinking long term," David Schindler told the Edmonton Journal. "In Alberta, as a society we have been masterful short-term thinkers . . .but our grandchildren will not be very happy if we don't change that."

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A recent study from the University of B.C. revealed that 70 per cent of the remaining glacial ice could disappear by the end of the century.

Schindler warns that Calgary could be among the first communities affected by this situation as the Bow Glacier is mostly gone and it's the source that feeds most of the city's rivers.

Among some of the suggestions Schindler has are using recycled water for toilet flushing and building bigger reservoirs to maximize the use of spring flow.

"We're going to have to take some fairly expensive measures like that to eke out an existence on what water we have left," Schindler said. "In a dry area like Alberta, maybe it's also time to start thinking about how many people do we really want in Alberta."

Glaciers are thinning at a rapid rate: about one metre a year. Since most glaciers are between 100 and 200 metres thick, it could take a while before the change is noticeable.

"We have a real problem to deal with here and we can't turn our back on it," Garry Clarke told the Edmonton Journal. Clarke is a professor emeritus at UBC's Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. "And the longer we wait the more costly it will be to deal with."

Source: Edmonton Journal

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