North Metro water suppliers ask customers to conserve
April 28, 2021
As warmer spring weather takes hold and homeowners enact plans for lawncare and landscaping, North Denver Metro water providers are banding together to ask residents to use their water carefully. A dozen suppliers have joined together to help educate the public on wise water use.
According to a recent press release, despite heavy snow on the front range in March, mountain snowpack is still below average in some areas and streamflow levels are expected to be low to average in the future. Compounding this fact, some water sources used by area providers including Niwot's Left Hand Water District, were impacted by summer wildfires. Depending on how flows occur throughout the season, these sources could further be affected by debris from a harsh runoff or spring storm.
No restrictions will be put in place for Niwot 2021
Despite awareness of these water supply issues, Christopher Smith, general manager of Left Hand Water District, said that residents don't need to be overly concerned, they just need to take common sense, simple conservation efforts. "We're telling people to be responsible. It's like remembering to turn out the lights when you leave a room," he said.
Smith emphasized that this year, there are no water restrictions in place for customers of Left Hand Water District. Instead, he places an emphasis on conserving now to better manage water for later on.
"Water resource managers can't be reactive, we have to be proactive," he said. "... Each water resource manager faces the same question, and we're working together to remind the end user that it's their job to pitch in."
Smith said, "A lot of our communities are quite close to each other. What you don't want to have is confusing mixed messaging from the different municipalities. That's unnecessary because we do work in the same world and we know each other. We're a team in this."
Niwot's neighbors, including Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville, Erie, and Broomfield are part of a north metro drought coordination effort that produced the information campaign. Erin Messner, water resources manager for the City and County of Broomfield helped organize the recent communications effort. "A group of us with some similar water supplies found it has been useful to coordinate with each other and develop a common language of issues that we can share with our customers.
She added, "Regionally, our climate/weather conditions can change so much from one area to the next [in Colorado] so it's useful for us in the north metro area to work together."
Suggestions to lower water use
As part of their effort, the group identified eight things that customers, including Niwot residents, can do to support wise water use:
1. Wait to water lawns. Don't turn on sprinklers too early in the season, wait until May if possible. Leaving lawns dormant longer will save water without compromising plant health.
2. Water less frequently. Watering twice a week will make grass roots grow deeper and allow the grass to last longer without water. You also may want to pay attention to your watering schedule. An example of a water wise schedule is setting each zone to water for five minutes then wait an hour, water for five minutes again, wait one more hour, then water for a final five minutes. This allows water to have time to absorb into dense and compact soils.
3. Water in the evening, night or early morning. Watering landscapes in the early morning or at night will help reduce water loss.
4. When it rains, water accordingly. Watch the weather and reduce watering schedules during times of rain. Soil moisture sensors or rain sensors can automatically adjust watering schedules when it rains or consider installing a WaterSense smart irrigation controller.
5. Let grass grow longer before cutting it. Raise lawn mower blades and protect lawns from heat by letting grass grow longer (3-3.5"). A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so your lawn requires less water.
6. Water lawns, plants and trees - not roads and sidewalks. Check your irrigation systems to make sure the lawn – and only the lawn – is being watered. Also, sweep driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of spraying with a hose – but don't send debris down the storm drain or into the street gutter.
7. Fix leaks. Check your sprinkler system monthly for broken sprinkler heads and damaged irrigation lines. A well maintained system will save both money and water.
8. Plan ahead and plan efficiently. If possible, delay new lawn installations for a non-drought year and avoid planting during the mid-summer heat. Incorporate water-wise plants and turf when planning landscape renovations or installations.
Left Hand Water District has conservation incentives
There are a number of incentives available to Left Hand Water District customers who are looking to conserve. These include incentives for efficient toilets and clothes washers as well as landscape water controllers. Anyone interested can learn more about them at the district's website at lefthandwater.org.