With the start of Spring just weeks away, Westminster is sounding the alarm about drought this summer.
The city enacted a drought watch, effective March 1, based on current water supply conditions. The voluntary watch calls for residents to water their lawns less, track and fix plumbing leaks and pledge to reduce their water use. Customers can make the pledge and sign up to receive drought status updates, get water-saving tips and sign up for conservation programs at www.cityofwestminster.us/drought.
“We are taking this proactive step to encourage wise water use today to ensure water supplies are available for our customer’s most critical needs in the future,” Public Works and Utilities Director Max Kirschbaum said in a written statement. “Our focus with the Drought Watch stage is to provide our customers the education and resources they need to reduce water usage throughout the summer. Drought Watch does not include mandatory restrictions.”
Westminster is asking water customers to only water their lawns three days per week and not during the hottest parts of the day, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The city also offers several free or discounted conservation programs.
The National Weather Service’s three-month outlook for Colorado predicts a 40 percent chance of below-normal precipitation with the state and much of the western U.S. to remain in drought conditions through the end of May at least. Colorado is currently experiencing an extreme drought and long-range forecasts are indicating warmer and drier than average weather for the remainder of the winter.
In the Clear Creek watershed, the source of the city’s drinking water, the snowpack is below average and soil moisture is far below average. The city’s share of water storage in Standley Lake is also below average.
“There is still a lot of time left in the snow season and conditions could change”, said Kirschbaum. “We will continue to watch the drought situation closely but any water savings will reduce the strain on limited water supplies and potentially lessen the chance of moving to mandatory restrictions.”
The city will also continue to make significant reductions in its own water use. The Parks, Recreation and Libraries department recently converted over 20 acres of bluegrass to climate-appropriate grasses saving an estimated 15 million gallons of water every year. Another 20 acres will be converted by 2023.
The city recently installed a state-of-the-art central control irrigation system saving about five to ten percent of the city’s total water use. Irrigation systems citywide will be updated over the next three years to be more efficient, saving an additional 20 million gallons of water a year.
Although each utility and system are different, the city is in close contact with neighboring utilities and the Metro Drought Coordination Group, a group of water agencies that share insights into their respective drought responses. Many utilities in…