Drought/snowpack news: Colorado Springs Utilities calls for drought restrictions #codrought



From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Barbara Cotter):

Wayne Vanderschuere, general manager of water services, said conditions are bad enough to restrict turf watering to one day a week. But Utilities officials hope that a two-day schedule, coupled with an intensive consumer education program and tariffs for high water usage, will accomplish the goal of maintaining a one-year reserve of water and saving 5.8 billion gallons during the April 1-Nov. 1 irrigation season.

The final decision rests with City Council, which will take up the proposal at its formal meeting Tuesday.

There are indications that the council won’t rubber-stamp Utilities’ recommendations, however. In previous discussions, council member Angela Dougan asked about what could be accomplished with a three-day-a-week schedule, and a landscaping contractor — at the invitation of councilman Tim Leigh — argued at a recent meeting that limiting people to two days of watering will be “devastating” to their yards.

But Utilities officials continued to paint a dire water picture at a meeting Wednesday of the Utilities Board, made up of City Council members. Utilities CEO Jerry Forte told the board that recent data on snowpack, reservoir levels, drought forecasts and other factors reinforced the decision to recommend the two-day-a-week watering schedule.

“We’re predicting yields to be estimated at about 51 percent of normal,” said Abigail Ortega, a Utilities planning supervisor. “This would be, if it does continue, our lowest yield on record, and the second year in a row.”

One group of residents might escape the watering restrictions, at least temporarily. Vanderschuere said Utilities will present a resolution to Council on Tuesday that would allow people whose landscape was damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire to temporarily escape the watering restrictions and tariffs. Under the proposal, they could get up to two 28-day permits to help re-establish their landscaping. Permits would cost $50.

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