Is it time to ease lawn watering restrictions? One council member will ask

Published: July 11, 2013, 3:42 pm, by Monica Mendoza

Council member Joel Miller has asked Colorado Springs Utilities water experts to give an update how much water is now in the city’s reservoirs.

The report is expected at the July 17 utilities board meeting.

If the reservoirs are up to 1.75 years of storage then Miller would want to consider easing watering restrictions for the remaining summer months. As of July 1, the city had 1.7 years of water in storage.

No doubt, it is a controversial question to pose. Council members, who are also the utilities board members, have been getting pummeled with phone calls and emails about the summer’s lawn watering restrictions and the higher water rates for use of more than 2,000 cubic feet of water per month.

Miller said he might be the only board member who wants to consider lifting the ban, but he said it’s worth asking the question.

“What’ I’m hearing, is people are doing the best they can and getting hammered regardless,” he said.

Utilties water chief Gary Bostrom said that as of the beginning of July, the city is out of runoff from this past winter’s snow pack. That means the only way to keep water in the city’s reservoirs is not to use it, he said.

He wants to stay the course with the two-day a week lawn watering restrictions and the higher rates for water use over 2,000 cubic feet.

Now, the city’s reservoirs are about 55 percent full. From 1970 to 2011, those reservoirs were 74 percent full. It’s that drop to about half full that made the city nervous, Bostrom said.

Recent rain showers have some residents wondering why the city couldn’t ease up on the watering restrictions – maybe limit lawn watering to three days a week. Bostrom said the city relies on snowpack, not rainfall, to fill its reservoirs. Rain does help residents use less water, but there hasn’t been enough. In June, precipitation was .60 inches, or 24 percent less than normal. So far this year, precipitation has been 3.33 inches, ore 44 percent less than normal, which is about 7.4 inches.

 

“If we went to three days we would be back in the hole and have a hard time getting out,” Bostrom said.