Water restrictions not as bad as the Western Slope feared

By: Joseph Dames Email
By: Joseph Dames Email

After last summer's devastating wildfire season and a winter without a lot of snow, Western Colorado was prepping for the worst. It was thought we'd be in stage two for water restrictions, or mandatory water limitations as we headed into the summer months.

Today, the drought response information project, or DRIP, announced things aren't as bad as we feared. While recent spring storms have really helped our local snowpack totals,
water is still a concern as we approach the drier months and summer heat.

As of right now, it looks like mother nature has provided just enough moisture to keep western Colorado in the 'voluntary' instead of 'mandatory' restriction when it comes to water.

"The decision was made to maintain stage 1 drought status for the main term with a decision to make a stage 2 drought designation should supplies drastically reduce" said David Reinertsen, DRIP chairman.

So no mandatory restrictions, or limitations, on running your sprinklers or outdoor water as spring unfolds and summer heat flows in, but water officials do say they want residents to voluntarily monitor their water use.

"Last summer we did actually see an increase in water use after we announced stage 1, so we hope people have learned from last year and the education we have put forth", said Reinertsen.

"Costumers are using treated water for outdoor use, just because they don't have irrigation water for use, so we really want to see that conservation effort both indoors and outdoors", said Joseph Burtard, of Ute Water.

Spring storms helped snowpack levels; we are now sitting at near average levels after several April snow storms. The snowfall shattered monthly averages here in Grand Junction, and while the white stuff helped, it's not just the snow helping our water levels.

"We've also had cooler temperatures, so it kept the snowpack that was up there on the mountain and it hasn't melted off. Last year at this time it already started to melt off because we got real warm", said Aldis Strautins, National Weather Service Hydrologist.

But don't open your valve to full blast just yet; residents in western Colorado could still see watering restrictions.

"it's a positive sign for our current water supplies, but we will be vigilante watching those supplies over the summer as the heat unfolds, to see if we do need to implement stage 2", said Reinertsen

National weather service hydrologists say that we are currently average for this time of year,
but we are at a defect for not actually reaching the levels we should have during the winter months.


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