As drought conditions deepen, Colorado Governor Jared Polis on June 23 sought activation of the state’s Drought Task Force and Phase 2 of the State Drought Mitigation and Response Plan.
The governor’s office said in a release the drought spans 81 percent of the state, with severe and extreme conditions affecting a third of the state, including El Paso County.
Colorado’s Drought Task Force includes officials with the departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Local Affairs and Public Safety, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The second phase of the plan means the task force will assess initial damages and impacts of drought in areas experiencing severe or extreme drought and recommend mitigation measures. In addition, the Agricultural Impact Task Force is activated to make an assessment on physical and economic impacts.
Meantime, there doesn’t appear to be any plan to further restrict water use in Colorado Springs where customers have been under restrictions since May to water their lawns no more than three times a week.
The Southern Delivery System (SDS), which was activated in 2016, guards against the city running dry. However, the city needs to add other water projects and water resources in years to come to meet the need of an estimated population forecast of 770,000 by 2070, says Pat Wells, Colorado Springs Utilities general manager for water resources and demand management. The utility now serves just under 500,000 people.
Asked why the $825-million SDS doesn’t negate the need for restrictions of any kind, Wells says, “A foundational component of our water conservation program for the past couple of decades is focused on outdoor water use and reshaping outdoor water demands — to get people to use the right amount of water.”
Wells calls efficient water usage “a foundational practice for water managers throughout the western United States. What we’re trying to do here is set a new normal and create a culture of responsible…