The snow-covered runs of Steamboat Ski Area are reflected in runoff near Walton Creek Road in Steamboat Springs. Officials in Steamboat Springs plan to enact Stage 2 water restrictions May 1.

Photo by John F. Russell

The snow-covered runs of Steamboat Ski Area are reflected in runoff near Walton Creek Road in Steamboat Springs. Officials in Steamboat Springs plan to enact Stage 2 water restrictions May 1.

Water restrictions to go into effect May 1 in Steamboat Springs


At a glance

Stage 2 restrictions state:

■ 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.

■ 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 can 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.

■ Water for three short intervals rather than one long interval.

■ When irrigating with a hose, use a spring-loaded nozzle rather than a free-running hose.

■ Cut your lawn no shorter than 3 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.

Source: Community Water Conservation Plan

— With no end to the drought in sight, Steamboat Springs has joined many other Colorado communities in announcing upcoming water restrictions.

The Stage 2 restrictions will go into effect May 1. The same restrictions were enacted last year on June 28.

Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Jay Gallagher said imposing the restrictions earlier this year will be more effective in curbing the consumption of treated water.

“The May 1 date will allow landscapers, businesses and homeowners to set timers to the Stage 2 watering schedule right at the start of the season,” Gallagher said in a news release. “Last year, it took three weeks for landscapers to reset timers for their clients in the middle of the season.”

When reached Wednesday, Gallagher said plants and vegetation would not be as impacted by the restrictions because they would adapt earlier.

“If you integrate that schedule in the middle of the season, it can be a shock to the landscape,” Gallagher said.

The restrictions affect the four districts that provide water to the Steamboat area: Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, the City of Steamboat Springs District, the Steamboat II Metro District and the Tree Haus Metro District.

Starting May 1, no outdoor watering will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents who have an even-numbered address can water only Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Residents with an odd-numbered address can water only Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No watering is permitted Wednesdays.

In situations such as condo complexes with multiple addresses, the landscapers can choose which schedule to follow.

Among other restrictions, vehicles cannot be washed at residences and hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks and parking lots cannot be washed with potable water.

Because of the restrictions in place last summer, Gallagher said residents consumed about 15 percent less water.

Because of hot and dry conditions, the irrigation season started early last spring. In June, before restrictions were in place, Gallagher said residents consumed a record amount of water.

“June was the largest consumption on record,” Gallagher said.

The Steamboat Springs Water Conservation Plan adopted in 2011 outlines when water restrictions will be put in place.

Among the criteria is when the snowpack at the Tower measuring site April 1 is below 80 percent of average. On April 1, the snow-water equivalent was at 64 percent of average. The snowpack rebounded a bit April 3 to 71 percent of average.

Among the other criteria, above-average temperatures are predicted from April to August. Below average precipitation also is being forecast.

According to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, a majority of Routt County is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

In the Steamboat area, Fish Creek provides most of the drinking water. Gallagher said the reservoir fed by natural flows from the melting snowpack is expected to fill. The problem is that the irrigation season likely will be like last summer when it was four to six weeks longer. That means reservoir levels will begin to drop sooner than typical prompting the conservation efforts.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email


Joe Solomon 4 years ago

As someone who grew up in the South and the land of sculpted lawns, I think we need to take a hard look at them here in the west and ask ourselves if they are worth the resources needed to maintain them. I know that families are supported by their maintenance and they do play a role in our economy, but we can't ignore how much water is being used here. This is a resources that needs to be reallocated to every day living vs. the patches of green in front of our houses. One mans humble opinion...


Scott Wedel 4 years ago

There are good looking lawns, maybe not quite the bright green variety, but still a nice lawn that use much less water.

Also, some water districts encourage using water barrels to catch roof drainage to use for watering and also to diminish peak flows for their storm drain system.


rhys jones 4 years ago

There is more water now than there has ever been. It arrives in chunks from space all the time. There's nothing you can do to get rid of it. It just moves around the planet, and we get a good shot of fresh every year, this year more than average. What we do need more of, however, is regulators telling us how we can use our pot, guns, water, and land.


Scott Wedel 4 years ago


Collecting rainwater is fine until a downstream water rights user claims that is depriving them of some of their water. It appears that there is evidence that people watering from collected rain barrels use less overall water compared to watering from a hose. So the water district can show that using rain barrels results in an overall reduction of water usage in their district. Ponds exceeding water rights at any number of rural residences consumes a substantial amount of water and would be a more productive target of downstream water rights holders.

Enforcement of these rules will presumably have commonsense. Otherwise, there will be many people in front of the City Council asking for the rules to be modified to accept various situations that are not wasting water that are violating these rules.

Since it is questionable whether there is a local drought, I think City Council should have said that lawn watering rules are just simply always in effect to limit wasting water. There is simply no good reason that a lawn should be set to be automated watering every day or that these watering rules should not apply.

The car washing rule would seem to be less about saving water than runoff drains to river and it is bad to have soapy water draining to the river. Other cities have banned residential car washing if water drains to curb. Those places you can wash with a soapy bucket and then wipe down using towels and a clean water bucket. Or park it on your lawn where there won't normally be runoff.

These rules are obviously meant to have a greater PR effect than actual impact. When a water district is worried about a true water shortage then they impose escalating charges for excessive water usage. So water use well above what is needed for personal use is then charged ever higher rates. And heavy commercial water users are analyzed to see if it is practical to use less water. Otherwise, people can comply to the rules and still waste a bunch of water at a minimal cost.


walt jones 3 years, 7 months ago

Hey Steamboat Resorts,

Do you really need all your condos lawn sprinklers running when it's 31 degrees at night now????


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