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Operating Rules - Chapter 15 - Drought Response

15.01 Application of this Chapter. Denver Water has adopted a Drought Response Plan that provides a framework for addressing droughts. Four levels of drought severity have been defined, based on various drought indicators. The basic response to a Stage 1 drought is voluntary measures; to a Stage 2 drought, mandatory restrictions; to a Stage 3 drought, prohibitions on lawn watering; and to a Stage 4 drought, rationing. To adopt a particular drought response, the Board of Water Commissioners declares a drought level and adopts an effective date for applicable restrictions. Because drought restrictions for Stages 2, 3, and 4 are mandatory, they are incorporated into the Operating Rules where they become enforceable upon a drought declaration pursuant to the Denver Charter, the Denver Revised Municipal Code and provisions in Denver Water’s water service agreements and water leases. This chapter contains the Operating Rules that apply during a Stage 2 or Stage 3 drought, as declared by the Board. Other aspects of drought response will be contained in other documents such as administrative and enforcement guidelines. Operating Rules for a Stage 4 drought will be adopted by the Board as the need arises.

15.01.1 Application of Drought Response within Master Meter Districts. Water service furnished by Denver Water within master meter districts is governed by the Operating Rules, including this Chapter 15. Under master meter water service agreements, master meter districts retain the right to make and enforce their own rules that are not inconsistent with the Operating Rules, and also agree to exercise their powers to assist Denver Water in enforcing the Operating Rules.

15.01.2 Application of Drought Response to Recycled Water Customers. Recycled water has different supply characteristics than potable water, and its source water may be more abundant during periods of drought. Customers who use recycled water are subject to more strict controls than customers of potable water. In recognition of these differing circumstances, Denver Water reserves the right to adopt different drought restrictions for recycled water customers, or to refrain from imposing any drought restrictions on recycled water customers, depending on the availability of the recycled water source at the time of the drought.

15.01.3 Responsible Party. As used in this chapter, “customer” means the owner or occupant of the licensed premises.

15.02 Stage 2 Drought Responses.

15.02.1 Spray Irrigation Watering Restrictions. All customers shall conduct all watering without any water waste, as defined in Chapter 14. All customers, except those who irrigate with recycled water, shall comply with the following watering restrictions from April 1 to October 1, unless exempted by special permission or by means of a water budget:

a. Watering shall be limited to two days per week in accordance with the following schedule.

Single-family residential properties with odd-numbered addresses Saturday
Wednesday
Single-family residential properties with even-numbered addresses Sunday
Thursday
All others (multi-family, HOA’s commercial, industrial, government) Tuesday
Friday

b. The Board of Water Commissioners may by formal action establish a limit on the number of minutes of irrigation that each area of turf may receive or a maximum total amount of time during which irrigation at a premise may occur. This subsection (b) will not apply to athletic or playing fields, so long as irrigation of such fields is accomplished without waste of water.

c. Watering is prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., except when limited watering is essential to preserve turf subject to heavy public use.

d. Watering is prohibited on Mondays, except for irrigators operating under a water budget as approved by the Board under Rule 15.02.2.

e. Between October 1 and April 1, outdoor lawn watering may be prohibited. The watering of turf areas heavily used by the community, such as athletic and playing fields, and tees and greens at golf courses, is not prohibited, but must be conducted without waste of water.

f. Permissible watering shall be conducted without any water waste, as defined in Chapter 14.

15.02.2 Exemptions from Irrigation Restrictions. Denver Water may in its discretion grant exemptions from the watering restrictions in Rule 15.02.1, as directed by the Board of Water Commissioners. The Board may approve exemptions for specific uses of irrigation or specific sources of irrigation water. For large volume irrigators, the Board may approve the use of water budgets with a maximum allowable amount of water, within which the irrigators will be permitted flexibility to choose how to irrigate without exceeding the budget. In addition to the penalties described in Rule 15.02.10(c), violation of any term or condition of an exemption may result in immediate rescission of the exemption.

15.02.3 Irrigation of Trees and Shrubs. Trees, shrubs and other perennials may be watered by means of a hand-held hose or low-volume non-spray irrigation on the assigned watering days in Rule 15.02.1(a).

15.02.4 Irrigation of Annuals and Vegetables. Annuals and vegetables may be watered any day by means of a hand-held hose or low-volume non-spray irrigation.

15.02.5 Irrigation System Installation, Operation and Repair. An irrigation system may be operated outside the watering schedule in Rule 15.02.1 for installation, repair or reasonable maintenance, so long as the system is attended throughout the period of operation and water waste does not occur. All irrigation control systems must be reprogrammed for operation in compliance with the schedule in Rule 15.02.1 or must be operated manually.

15.02.6 Outdoor Water Features.

a. Fountains and Waterfalls. Customers shall be prohibited from operating any existing outdoor fountain or waterfall that sprays water into the air.

b. Outdoor Misting Devices. Operation of outdoor misting devices shall be prohibited.

15.02.7 Washing of Vehicles.

a. Personal Vehicles. At locations other than commercial car washes, customers may wash their personal vehicles using only a bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shutoff nozzle.

b. Fleet Vehicles. Vehicles contained in commercial operations or fleets may be washed no more often than once per week, unless public safety requires more frequent washing.

c. Commercial Car Washes. Commercial car washes are subject to a certification program that requires efficient use of water. Any commercial car wash not certified or in the process of becoming certified, shall close down its washing operations three days each week as designated by Denver Water in order to save water.

15.02.8 Washing of Impervious Surfaces.

a. Power Washing by Individuals. Cleaning with water as permitted by Rule 14.01, except for immediate health or safety reasons, may occur only on the assigned watering days indicated in Rule 15.02.1(a) and not between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

b. Commercial Power Washing. Commercial enterprises for whom cleaning with water is an essential element of their business are not subject to day-of-the-week or time- of-day restrictions, but shall use only high efficiency equipment and assure that water waste does not occur.

15.02.9 Food and Lodging Establishments.

a. Restaurants. Restaurants and catering businesses shall not serve water automatically with meals, but may serve water upon the customer’s request. Restaurants must comply with Denver Water’s signage program.

b. Lodging. Lodging establishments shall not change sheets more often than every four days for guests staying more than one night, except for health or safety reasons. Sheets may be changed at a customer’s request. Food service operations in lodging establishments shall not serve water automatically with meals, but may serve water upon the customer’s request. Lodging establishments must comply with Denver Water’s signage program.

15.02.10 Enforcement of Drought Restrictions. The customer shall be responsible for complying with these drought restrictions, and also with the terms of any exemption granted under Rule 15.02.2. Those who violate any of these Stage 2 drought restrictions will be subject to the penalties in this provision.

a. For a first violation of any Stage 2 drought restriction, the owner or occupant will receive a written warning and informed that a monetary charge will be added to the water bill for subsequent violations.

b. For a second violation of any Stage 2 drought restriction at the same premises, the owner or occupant will receive a notice of violation, and a charge may be added to the water bill. The added charge will be $250 for Single Family Residential accounts and up to $500 for all other accounts.

c. For a third violation of any Stage 2 drought restriction at the same premises, the owner or occupant will receive a notice of violation, and a charge may be added to the water bill. The added charge will be $500 for Single Family Residential accounts and up to $2,000 for all other accounts.

d. For a fourth violation of any Stage 2 drought restriction at the same premises, for violation of any term or condition of an exemption granted under 15.02.2, or for willful violation of any drought restriction, the owner or occupant will receive a notice of violation, and a charge may be added to the water bill. The added charge will be $1000 for Single Family Residential accounts and up to $2,000 for all other accounts. In addition, Denver Water may install a flow restrictor on the service line that will remain in place during the irrigation season or may suspend service temporarily until the cause of the violation is corrected and all outstanding penalty and water service charges have been paid.

15.02.11 Fixed-Amount Water Contracts. In connection with a Stage 2 drought response, the Board has determined that providing an adequate supply of water for the people of Denver requires the restrictions contained in this Rule 15.02.11. Water deliveries to customers who receive raw water, nonpotable water or potable water under fixed-amount contracts will be restricted as follows:

a. For agreements with provisions for reduction in deliveries under drought conditions, the amount delivered shall be reduced by 20%.

b. For agreements with provisions requiring the lessee to adopt the same or similar water use restrictions as Denver Water, the lessee shall implement the water use restrictions contained in this Rule 15.02.

c. For agreements without the provisions described in either subsection (a) or (b), the Board of Water Commissioners may adopt drought surcharges or other methods to achieve reduction in water consumption outside Denver as necessary to provide an adequate supply of water to the people of Denver.

d. Any water delivered by Denver Water between April 1 and October 1 shall not be used for spray irrigation between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

15.03 Stage 3 Drought Responses.

15.03.1 Prohibition on Irrigation. Irrigation of landscaping shall be prohibited, except as specifically provided in this Rule or unless exempted by special permission or by means of a water budget:

a. The watering of pre-existing turf areas heavily used by the community such as athletic and playing fields is not prohibited, but shall be limited to Tuesdays and Fridays. Irrigation of such fields shall be accomplished without waste of water.

b. Between May 1 and October 1, otherwise permissible watering is prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

c. Permissible watering shall be conducted without any water waste, as defined in Rule 14.0l.

15.03.2 Exemptions from Irrigation Prohibition. Denver Water may in its discretion grant exemptions from the watering prohibition in Rule 15.03.1, as directed by the Board of Water Commissioners. The Board may approve exemptions for specific uses of irrigation or specific sources of irrigation water. The Board may approve the use of water budgets for high public use large volume irrigators, which will establish a maximum allowable amount of water, within which the irrigators will be permitted flexibility to choose how to irrigate without exceeding the budget. In addition to the penalties described in Rule 15.03.10(c), violation of any term or condition of an exemption may result in immediate rescission of the exemption.

15.03.3 Irrigation of Trees and Shrubs. Existing trees and shrubs may be watered by means of a hand-held hose or low-volume non-spray irrigation no more than once a week in accordance with the following schedule. From May 1 to October 1, such irrigation may not occur between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. No new trees or shrubs may be planted.

Single-family residential properties with odd-numbered addresses Saturday
Single-family residential properties with even-numbered addresses Sunday
All others (multi-family, HOA’s commercial, industrial, government) Wednesday

15.03.4 Irrigation of Flowers and Vegetables. Existing flowers, vegetables, and plantings in household and community gardens may be watered any day except Monday by means of a hand-held hose or low-volume non-spray irrigation. From May 1 to October 1, such irrigation may not occur between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. No new flowers or vegetables may be planted.

15.03.5 Irrigation System Installation, Operation and Repair. An irrigation system may be operated despite the prohibition in Rule 15.03.1 for installation or repair, so long as the system is attended throughout the period of operation and water waste does not occur.

15.03.6 Outdoor Water Features.

a. Fountains and Waterfalls. Customers shall be prohibited from operating any existing outdoor fountain or waterfall that sprays water into the air. No new outdoor fountain or waterfall may be put into operation during a Stage 3 drought response.

b. Misting Devices. Operation of outdoor misting devices shall be prohibited.

c. Swimming Pools. Single-family residential pools shall not be filled or refilled. Operation of other pools will be permitted.

15.03.7 Washing of Vehicles.

a. Personal Vehicles. Washing of personal vehicles shall be prohibited except at commercial car washes certified as described in subsection (c).

b. Fleet Vehicles. Vehicles contained in commercial operations or fleets may be washed no more often than once per month, unless public safety requires more frequent washing, and only by means of a car wash or washing equipment certified by Denver Water.

c. Commercial Car Washes. Commercial car washes are subject to a certification program that will require a 50% water savings as compared to a non-recycling car wash. Any commercial car wash that is not certified or in the process of becoming certified, shall close down its washing operations three days each week as designated by Denver Water in order to save water.

15.03.8 Washing of Impervious Surfaces.

a. Power Washing by Individuals. Use of water instead of a broom or mop to clean outdoor impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and patios is prohibited, except when cleaning with water is necessary for immediate public health or safety reasons.

b. Commercial Power Washing. Commercial enterprises shall clean with water only for health or safety purposes, and shall use only high efficiency equipment certified by Denver Water and assure that water waste does not occur.

c. Hydrant Permits. Water obtained by means of a hydrant permit shall not be used for cleaning equipment or any other use prohibited during a Stage 3 drought.

15.03.9 Food and Lodging Establishments.

a. Restaurants. Restaurants and catering businesses shall not serve water automatically with meals, but may serve water upon the customer’s request. Restaurants must comply with Denver Water’s signage program.

b. Lodging. Lodging establishments shall not change sheets more often than every four days for guests staying more than one night, except for health or safety reasons. Food service operations in lodging establishments shall not serve water automatically with meals, but may serve water upon the customer’s request. Lodging establishments must comply with Denver Water’s signage program.

15.03.10 Enforcement. The customer shall be responsible for complying with these drought restrictions, and also with the terms of any exemption granted under Rule 15.03.2. Those who violate any of these Stage 3 drought restrictions will be subject to the penalties in this provision.

a. For a first violation of any Stage 3 drought restriction, the owner or occupant will be advised in writing and informed that a monetary charge will be added to the water bill for subsequent violations.

b. For a second violation of any Stage 3 drought restriction at the same premises, the owner or occupant will be advised in writing, and a $1000 charge may be added to the water bill.

c. For a third violation of any Stage 3 drought restriction at the same premises, for violation of any term or condition of an exemption granted under 15.03.2, or for willful violation of any drought restriction, the owner or occupant will be advised in writing, and a $1500 charge may be added to the water bill. In addition, Denver Water may install a flow restrictor on the service line that will remain in place during the irrigation season or may suspend service temporarily until the cause of the violation is corrected and all outstanding penalty and water service charges have been paid.

15.03.11 Fixed-Amount Water Contracts. In connection with a Stage 3 drought response, the Board has determined that providing an adequate supply of water for the people of Denver requires the restrictions contained in this Rule 15.03.11. Water deliveries to customers who receive raw water, nonpotable water or potable water under fixed-amount contracts will be restricted as follows:

a. For agreements with provisions for reduction in deliveries under drought conditions, the amount delivered shall be reduced by 50%.

b. For agreements with provisions requiring the lessee to adopt the same or similar water use restrictions as Denver Water, the lessee shall implement the water use restrictions contained in this Rule 15.03.

c. For agreements without the provisions described in either subsection (a) or (b), the Board of Water Commissioners may adopt drought surcharges or other methods to achieve reduction in water consumption outside Denver as necessary to provide an adequate supply of water to the people of Denver.

d. Any water delivered by Denver Water between May 1 and October 1 shall not be used for otherwise permissible irrigation on Mondays or between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

15.04 Appeal Process. Any person subject to a charge for violation of a provision of this Chapter 15 may appeal the charge by contacting Denver Water Customer Care. Unless the customer’s appeal has already been approved, the customer must pay any charges that appear on the water bill by the due date of the water bill. If the customer’s appeal is approved after payment has been made, the disputed charge will be credited on the next water bill.

15.05 Use of Water Not Controlled or Provided by Denver Water. Some customers may have available to them sources of water that are not owned, controlled or provided by Denver Water. While the use of such water in a drought is not under the direct control of Denver Water, the following rules apply to the owner or occupant of a licensed premises using non-Denver water. Failure to comply with these rules will be deemed to be a drought restriction violation under either Rule 15.02.10 or 15.03.10, depending on the severity of the drought.

a. To ensure that the water is in fact not Denver Water’s, the customer shall provide certification demonstrating the source of the water and that the water is being used in compliance with any legal restrictions on the use of water from that source.

b. The premises where the non-Denver water is being applied shall display prominent signage indicating that the water is not being supplied by Denver Water.

c. To avoid potential contamination of Denver Water’s potable water supply system, any irrigation or other system using non-Denver water shall be physically disconnected from Denver Water’s potable system. In addition, the Denver Water service line providing potable water to the premises must include an approved backflow prevention device, and the customer must execute a Dual Water Supply Agreement with Denver Water.

d. To prevent the waste of water, which could increase the customer’s need for Denver Water’s supplies, irrigation with non-Denver water shall be prohibited during the hours from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.