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Summer watering rules are here

It’s that time of year: The annual reminder that the May 1 – Oct. 1 watering rules are in effect for Denver Water. We always welcome your help in spreading the word and helping remind the 1.5 million people that we serve of their important role in managing our water supplies.

Reservoir levels and water supplies for Denver Water are in relatively good shape, but much of Colorado continues to be drier than usual, including within the Upper Colorado River Basin, where roughly half of our supplies originate.

As most Denver folks probably figure, the Front Range snowfall in March and April, along with cool, cloudy conditions for most of April, were helpful to our landscapes and water storage.

However, we are part of a larger water community, and many parts of the state have seen weak snowpack this winter and are still suffering the effects of a very dry summer and calamitous wildfire season in 2020. Soil moisture is low most everywhere, and will drink up a lot of what runoff there is, leaving less water in streams and reservoirs.

Across the southwestern United States and the seven states that make up the Colorado River Basin, the impacts of a changing climate have led to a 20-year period of drought and record-low levels within two massive reservoirs (lakes Powell and Mead) that are critical to water supplies across the region. This crisis has a direct impact on Denver Water.

With that in mind, we are reminding our customers of some important points, including:

  • In Denver Water’s service areas, drought restrictions are mainstream watering rules – no more than three days per week, and no daytime watering.
  • Sprinklers should not be turned on until Mother’s Day at the earliest. The month is usually cool enough to keep watering to a minimum.
  • Plants don’t need much water in the cooler months, like May. And a moist spring (so far) has kept landscapes wet in the metro area.
  • While the average final freeze date in Denver is May 4, it can stretch later into the month. In 2019, the last freeze was recorded on May 22. A freeze can damage a sprinkler system turned on too early.
  • So keep those sprinklers off for a bit longer and use a hose and nozzle if there’s a dry patch that needs a bit of extra attention.
  • Look for opportunities to use less; spring is a good opportunity to alter your landscapes, reduce water in shady zones and incorporate more native plants.
  • Any season is a good season to reduce indoor water use. Spring cleaning is a great time to commit to newer, more efficient toilets, sprinkler heads and showerheads.
  • This story, Slow your roll on watering: Let Mother Nature be your guide, from Denver Water’s TAP news site, sums up some of these important issues as we head into watering season.


Denver Water proudly serves high-quality water and promotes its efficient use to 1.5 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. Established in 1918, the utility is a public agency funded by water rates, new tap fees and the sale of hydropower, not taxes. It is Colorado’s oldest and largest water utility. Subscribe to TAP to hydrate your mind, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.