By Susan C. Galentine | Directorate of Public Works sustainability specialist
Editor’s note: The following article is provided by Colorado Springs Utilities in support of Fort Carson community utility customers.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Colorado Springs Utilities, with approval by the City of Colorado Springs, launched new water-wise rules this year to encourage the efficient use of water in the community.
The new rules align with other Colorado municipalities in conserving water during irrigation season every year, not just during drought conditions. These practices are considered foundational to water use efficiency programs in Colorado to conserve limited resources.
Springs Utilities is focusing on water-wise rules education this year to provide customers time to adapt to the changes. Enforcement for violations will begin in 2021.
The impact of the new program on Fort Carson residential water users depends on where people live.
Fort Carson Family Homes, as a large-water user, will operate under a water allocation plan for automated irrigation areas in the housing areas, said Vince Guthrie, DPW Utility Programs manager. On-post housing residents may water (back yards, etc.) up to three days a week to comply with Springs Utilities guidance.
Off-post Springs Utilities residential water customers will be required to follow the water-wise rules outlined below.
Six key customer rules to the new water-wise rules:
- Customers can water up to three days a week on days of their choice.
- In warmer weather (from May 1-Oct. 15, 2020), run sprinklers before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to reduce evaporation.
- Do not let water pool on hard surfaces or flow down gutters.
- Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
- Use a shut-off nozzle when washing anything with a hose.
- Clean hard surfaces (such as driveways, sidewalks and patios) with water only if there is a public health or safety concern.
FAQs about water-wise rules:
Why are water-wise rules needed? Residents live in a semi-arid climate and with a community is growing. Building a conservation ethic with water-wise rules protects water supply. The water saved today is the water supply for tomorrow.
How do the rules help the community? These water-wise rules prevent the community from wasting water. This helps the environment and protects water resources. People may also save money on their water bill.
Will these new rules be enforced? Springs Utilities’ priority is education and helping customers find success with the new rules. In 2021 and beyond, second-time offenders may be fined $100.
Do other communities in Colorado have water-wise rules? These changes align with other Front Range cities (i.e. Denver, Aurora, Greeley and Fort Collins) and are considered a foundational water practice in Colorado.
What about watering for newly planted grass seed or sod? Customers who need to establish new grass or plants with sprinklers can apply for an establishment permit.
What if an individual has a large landscape and a complex irrigation system? People who have large landscapes, complex irrigation systems or other conditions which do not allow them to follow the three-days-per-week rule, can apply for a water allocation plan. Water allocation plans allow more flexibility related to when the water is used. However, it will not allow additional water.
Does the three-day-a-week watering limit apply to trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens? Watering is allowed any time with a drip irrigation system, handheld hose with a shutoff nozzle or other handheld watering container.
Is it possible to have a green lawn and healthy landscape with three days of weekly watering? Yes, with proper watering techniques, current landscapes can remain healthy with three days of watering per week. People can learn more about free lawn, landscape and irrigation resources at the Conservation and Environmental Center, 2855 Mesa Road and at https://www.csu.org/Pages/waterwiserules.aspx.
How much water will this save? Over the next 50 years, the community needs to save more than 10,000 acre-feet per year of water to meet long-term water resource goals. That’s enough water to fill more than 5,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools annually. These new rules are expected to meet 10 percent of that efficiency goal.
Off-post Springs Utilities water customers can find out more about the water-wise rules program at https://www.csu.org/Pages/waterwiserules.aspx.