One Small Colorado Town Ran Out Of Water. How Did It Happen? — KUNC

Paonia. Photo credit: Allen Best

Here’s a report from KUNC (Luke Runyon). Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

One morning in mid-February, David Herz went to turn on the faucet in his farmhouse outside the small western Colorado town of Paonia, and nothing came out…

Herz is president of a small water company that purchases treated drinking water from the town for him and a few of his rural neighbors. Small outages are common enough not to raise alarm. Herz started calling around to see what was happening…

“We usually we average about one (outage) a year on the line,” he said. “Something breaks, and you have to turn the water off. So it’s not uncommon.”

He quickly found he wasn’t the only person reliant on Paonia’s water with a dry tap. What he didn’t know at that point was how long the shortage would last. From mid-February to early March most of the town’s about 1,600 water customers were issued boil notices, and eventually saw their water turned off for a combined 13 days…

“What do we want growth to look like? Do we at some point in time put up the barricades and say not here?”

Those questions led to even tougher ones like whose water use is more important? And with projections for a hotter, drier Southwest, is a town like Paonia ready for climate change?

[Ken] Knight said they don’t yet have all the answers, but he’s committed to taking steps to prepare for future shortages.

“Water is the oil of the 21st century. People don’t quite understand how difficult it is to run a water system so you have clean drinking water,” he said.

If other small towns in the West aren’t prepared to handle a combination of drought and leaky infrastructure, he said Paonia’s story is a warning of things to come.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here, and here.

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