June 26, 2013 - Denver Water’s supply situation has greatly improved since Stage 2 drought restrictions were put in place April 1, thanks to an unexpectedly wet spring and citizens’ reduced water use. As a result, at its meeting today, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted a resolution declaring a Stage 1 drought — which removes the two-day-per-week assigned watering schedule — effective immediately. Customers may water no more than three days per week and must follow Denver Water’s annual watering rules.
“Our customers have responded very well to the call to use even less water, and we can finally be confident that enough water from the late-season snows has reached our reservoirs to bring them to reasonable levels,” said Greg Austin, president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners. “While the drought is not over, conditions have improved enough that customers may water a third day, if their lawns need it. We all still need to do our part to protect against the possibility of another dry winter, and we ask everyone to continue to use even less.”
On March 27, 2013, the board declared a Stage 2 drought, based on 60 percent snowpack, extremely dry conditions and lower-than-normal reservoirs. Late-season weather improved conditions significantly, and the snowpack in both of Denver Water’s watersheds ended up above 90 percent of the average peak. More important, much of the snow made its way into Denver Water’s reservoirs, which are currently 92 percent full on average. Runoff is ending, and Denver Water doesn’t expect reservoirs to fill much more. The utility’s reservoirs were about 91 percent full this time last year.
In May 2013, the board delayed implementation of drought pricing due to the improved conditions. The Stage 1 drought declaration removes drought pricing entirely. The last time the utility declared a Stage 1 drought was in 2012.
In response to the Stage 1 drought declaration, Denver Water is asking its customers to reduce outdoor watering and follow the standard annual watering rules:
- Water no more than three days per week (there are no assigned days).
- Do not water lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Do not waste water by allowing it to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
- Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt.
- Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
- Do not water while it is raining or during high winds.
To help save water, Denver Water asks customers to pay close attention to the weather and their landscapes, and only water when necessary. Other tips:
- Use a day of rain to skip watering.
- Only water the areas of your yard that are dry. For example, if shady areas look fine, only water the dry areas that get the most sun exposure.
- Water two minutes less.
“Reservoir storage is only one indicator of drought, and our reservoir levels can drop quickly when we don’t get much rain and snow,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “If this summer continues to be hot and dry, we will be vulnerable if there is low snowpack in 2014. To manage our water supply, we must consider the long-term outlook. Stage 1 drought restrictions will help maintain our reserves in case we are experiencing a series of dry years.”
The utility’s drought patrol team will still monitor Denver Water’s service area to educate customers about the watering rules.
“The purpose of our drought patrol is as much about educating customers as it is about enforcing Denver Water’s rules,” said Lochhead. “The most frequent violation we see is customers watering in the middle of the day, which is wasteful because the water just evaporates. We ask everyone to be mindful of when they are watering.”
Citizens who see water waste or broken sprinklers in Denver’s parks should call 3-1-1. To report water waste elsewhere, call Denver Water at 303-893-2444.