From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Sara Waite):
The Sterling City Council got its first look at the proposed 2021 Municipal Water Efficiency Plan put together by BBA Water Consultants of Englewood during their meeting Tuesday night. The city must have a new water efficiency plan in place in order to access the financing for the wastewater treatment plan; a previous water conservation plan was completed in 2010.
BBA Water Resources Engineer Tara Meininger gave a short presentation on the plan that focused on the 30 “water efficiency activities” outlined for implementation in the 2021-2027 plan period. Ultimately, the goal of those activities is to reduce unbilled water consumption within the city system, as well as reduce average individual demand, thereby extending the city’s water supply and reducing infrastructure and water treatment costs.
If adopted, the efficiency plan would call for Sterling to:
1. Install AMR [AMI?] meters in Sterling parks that still have manual meters.
2. Identify unmetered uses if they still exist.
3. Identify metered taps that have been inadvertently excluded from the billing system (primarily municipal metered taps) and adding those taps into the system
4. Consider adding a “Municipal” customer type to the water billing system
5. Consider adding a “School” customer type to the water billing system
6. Determine whether current billing software can enhance water bills with customer-specific water use information and comparisons to the use patterns of similar water users.
7. After completion of the waste water treatment plant upgrades, Sterling will consider whether changes to its water rate structure (for example, transition back to an inclined tiered water rate structure) would be feasible and appropriate.
8. Sterling water staff will attend training through the Colorado Water Loss Initiative.
9. By 2023, Sterling will implement a year-long technology-assisted leak detection program for its potable distribution network. Mapping of Sterling’s potable distribution network will be included.
10. Sterling will proactively repair small leaks identified by detection efforts, provided repairs are within Sterling’s budget after higher-priority leaks have been addressed.
11. Hire a new Water/Wastewater Compliance staff member who will also contribute to water efficiency programs.
12. Install irrigation controllers at Sterling parks.
13. If municipal facilities are upgraded or plumbing fixtures are replaced, Sterling commits to replacing those fixtures with water-efficient models.
14. Sterling water staff will research the possibility of equipping fire department hose trucks with water meters.
15. Consider whether any areas (especially parks) currently served by potable water supplies could be transitioned to non-potable supplies.
16. Inventory cooling towers in Sterling to better understand cooling water demands and potential water efficiency activities.
17. Consider a technical assistance program to assist Riverview Golf Course and Riverside Cemetery in controlling their irrigation water use.
18. Sterling staff will approach the Department of Corrections to propose a rainwater collection program to irrigate the approximately 8 acres of fields within the Sterling Correctional Facility compound. Depending on DOC’s responsiveness and program details, the city might consider an incentive such as project assistance or funding.
19. Consider a rebate program for irrigation controllers, using local plumbers as the intermediary.
20. Consider implementing overspray watering restrictions.
21. Consider whether additional ordinances could be passed to regulate cemetery and golf course irrigation.
22. Consider improving Sterling’s existing landscape requirements so that xeriscaping options are highlighted and so that properties that do not maintain existing turf are required to replace it with xeriscape.
23. Consider whether point of sale ordinances could achieve both water efficiency goals and property maintenance goals.
24. In 2021, send out at least two educational inserts with water billings: one on water softeners/in-home water treatment, with information related to both water waste and water quality, and a second insert on xeriscaping and rainwater collection.
25. Sterling would also consider installing a xeriscape garden and rainwater collection at City Hall as an example of what can be done.
26. Include information about water efficiency during water treatment plant tours and presentations to the public.
27. Consider whether water staff could make informational presentations at local schools, including information on how Sterling’s water supply is treated and the importance of water efficiency.
28. Consider sending Sterling water staff to participate in the annual Logan County Children’s Water Festival.
29. Post monthly water-efficiency related information on the Public Works Facebook account, or similar social media platforms.
30. As part of the permit approval materials Sterling provides building permit applicants, Sterling Planning staff will include an educational insert on rainwater collection.
Meininger noted that Sterling’s potable water consumption has been declining since the 1990s, which is credited in part to the implementation of watering restrictions and increased water rates. But, she said, when comparing the usage rates to other, similar Colorado municipalities, there is still room to improve…
The council voted 7-0 to put the plan out for a 60-day public comment period, after which time the council will review the comments and possibly incorporate those along with any other changes, then adopt the plan. It will then be forwarded to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for approval, which will allow the city to draw down the loan for the wastewater treatment plant improvements.