Water restrictions prove effective in Steamboat

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Stage 2 water restrictions

• Potable water shall be used for beneficial purposes and should not be wasted.

• No outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

• Outdoor watering schedule is based on the last number of the customer’s street address. Odd-numbered addresses can water Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays; even-numbered addresses can water Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. There is no watering permitted Wednesdays.

• No vehicle washing at residences.

• No washing hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks and parking areas. Sweep with a broom instead.

• No running outdoor water features.

• No use of domestic water for dust control.

• Limit the filling of swimming pools to one filling per year, unless draining for repairs.

• Permits may be secured for newly sodded lawns and newly planted trees for as many as 14 consecutive days and for newly seeded lawns for as many as 25 consecutive days with the exception of Wednesdays.

Tips for conserving water

• Avoid watering in windy conditions.

• Adjust sprinklers to avoid watering hard surfaces. Set timers to avoid over-watering.

• Because our clay soils restrict penetration of water, it is better to water for three short intervals than for one long interval.

• When irrigating with a hose, use a spring-loaded nozzle, not a free-running hose.

• Cut your lawn no shorter than three inches to reduce soil moisture loss and to promote deeper roots.

• Avoid planting trees and shrubs or sodding new lawns during the drier, hotter months.

• Plant native grasses and shrubs or drought-tolerant species in place of water-intensive species.

— Officials say this summer’s mandatory restrictions have proven to be successful.

“We are pleased with these results as they demonstrate our community’s ability to respond to a water emergency,” Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Jay Gallagher wrote in an email.

Extreme drought conditions led to mandatory Stage 2 water restrictions being enacted June 29 for customers of the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, City of Steamboat Springs Water District, Steamboat II Metro District and Tree Haus Metro District. Those districts provide treated water to all of Steamboat Springs and the immediate surrounding residential areas. The Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District treats water from Fish Creek Reservoir. Gallagher said the reservoir is about 67.5 percent full, a level that is not typically seen until October.

The water restrictions are expected to be lifted later this month as businesses and homeowners stop watering their lawns. As part of Stage 2 restrictions, homeowners are limited to certain days for watering lawns, and no outdoor watering is allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

To measure the effectiveness of the water restrictions, Gallagher compared summer water usage with the usage in June, when restrictions were in place for only two days.

In July, water usage averaged 4 million gallons per day. Gallagher said that represented a 14 percent reduction from the month of June, when unrestricted water usage on average was 4.6 million gallons per day.

In August, water usage declined further to an average of 3.8 million gallons per day, representing a 17 percent drop compared with June. Gallagher said the reduction equals 2.3 acre-feet per day of reservoir storage. The most water used on a single day in August was 3 million gallons, which was 39 percent less than the peak day in June, when 4.8 million gallons of water were used.

During the first 10 days of September, water usage was an average of 3.6 million gallons of water per day, or 22 percent lower than the June average. Gallagher said water usage typically drops off rapidly after the middle of September because irrigation systems are shut down for the winter.

During the Stage 2 restrictions, no outside watering has been permitted Wednesdays.

“The reduction in water use on ‘no-watering Wednesdays’ has been particularly significant and indicates that residents and businesses continue to comply with the Stage 2 water restrictions,” Gallagher said.

Before water restrictions were enacted in June, the average use for Wednesdays was 4.8 million gallons. Once restrictions were put in place, the average use on Wednesdays dropped to 3.2 million gallons in July. That’s a 34 percent decrease compared with June.

In August, water use on Wednesdays dropped to 3 million gallons, a 39 percent decrease compared with June. Gallagher pointed out that number is close to the peak daily usage of 2.6 million gallons during winter when no one is irrigating.

Gallagher said seeing the results of the summer’s conservation efforts is an optimistic sign that the community is up to the challenge of meeting the long-term goals of the Water Conservation Plan adopted in 2011 by the Steamboat Springs City Council. The plan aims to reduce water usage by five percent by 2015, 10 percent by 2025 and 15 percent by 2035.

“Encouraging irrigation and landscaping efficiencies is one of the means by which we can achieve these reduction targets,” Gallagher said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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