Telluride councillors told: “We are a steward to our water resources…We are stewards for what we need now and into the future” — Karen Guglielmone

Photo via TellurideValleyFloor.org

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Suzanne Cheavens):

Karen Guglielmone, the Town of Telluride’s environment and engineering division manager, presented the yearly water audit to Town Council in a Tuesday work session, which emphasized the importance of conservation, despite the town’s abundant water supply.

“We are a steward to our water resources,” she told council. “We are stewards for what we need now and into the future.”

The annual report has been produced since 2014, when the town adopted a Water Efficiency Plan, which was subsequently approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) late that year. The annual report reveals figures such as overall municipal water use — and losses — and indicates trends that can help officials modify the plan.

Water losses are attributed to a number of factors including leaks, unauthorized consumption, faulty metering and data errors.

Leaks, Guglielmone explained, are common in municipal water systems as they age. One such leak occurred under East Columbia Avenue in 2018, which officials then said had likely been a progressive event due to pressure from a rock. Directly on the waterline. There are more of those, Guglielmone said.

“We can expect a slow increase of leaks over time,” she said. “We have others we can’t locate precisely.”

Despite the challenges of controlling losses, in 2018 the loss rate dipped by 13.5 percent when compared to the last five years of collecting data. Last year’s losses were calculated to be 26 million gallons, down from 2017’s 37 million gallons. Telluride’s losses are still high compared to other municipalities.

“We’re high on our water loss,” she said. “Fifteen percent is the goal, though 25-30 percent is more the reality,”

Residential water use is holding steady, according to the report. The fact that it stayed about the same (118 million gallons) is “pretty cool,” Guglielmone said…

Town Attorney Kevin Geiger noted that overall the town is in good shape as far as its supply is concerned.

“Our water portfolio is robust,” he said. “(Blue Lake) is a very large reservoir for our town. It is the envy of municipalities in Colorado.”

Telluride’s water rights are also strong…

Incorporating the Blue Lake reservoir and the Pandora water treatment plant became necessary when the town’s growth overtook what Mill Creek could provide, Geiger explained. Past water usage reports, which reflected peak days such as those that occur during the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, necessitated the work to bring Blue Lake into the fold…

Council member Geneva Shaunette said she liked the idea of the stricter irrigation practices that the town imposed during last year’s parched summer.

“I’m a fan of every other day irrigation,” she said. “Maybe grass isn’t the best thing.”

Unfortunately, even though low maintenance buffalo grass uses half the water, many landscapers’ clients prefer water-hungry Kentucky bluegrass, Guglielmone said. “We can’t police everything.”

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