MEEKER | Meeker residents were asked to avoid watering their lawns last weekend after six weeks of the heaviest water usage in community history depleted storage facilities at the same time work on the wells was underway.
According to Town Manager Scott Meszaros, the town has a substantial water storage system, but when water consumption exceeds the rate at which the wells are able to replenish storage, it strains the entire system.
“We’re using as much water as the City of Rifle,” Meszaros said.
Water usage in town averages about 30 million gallons a month. In June Meeker residents used 62 million gallons, and in the first two weeks of July, were aiming to break the June record.
Water is precious is a semi-arid climate, and even more so during drought years. The State of Colorado has mandatory tiered rates, meaning heavier users pay higher rates; and mandatory watering restrictions, like not watering during the day, or only watering every other day.
“It’s state-mandated, but it’s not enforced on the Western Slope. That’s part of the problem,” Meszaros said.
The Town of Meeker established tiered rates several years ago, but has not set watering restrictions.
In comparison with other communities, Meeker residents are using significantly more water per capita (see infographic), and paying significantly less than other communities. That means less profit for the town to use for upgrades, repairs and improvements.
The current water system project is expected to help with supply and demand issues such as those that created the need for the watering ban last weekend, but the quantity of water being used by residents is still a concern.
NINE EASY WAYS TO CONSERVE WATER
- Water lawns no more than two times per week. Add a third day in extreme heat. Spreading out watering days helps lawns grow deeper, drought-tolerant roots.
- If it rains, water less. Watch the weather and adjust watering days and times accordingly.
- Do not water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Watering during the day results in less water reaching your lawn due to evaporation and afternoon winds.
- Check your irrigation system at least once a month for leaks and other problems.
- When you water at night, it can be difficult to see problems. Running each zone for a few minutes during the day once monthly will reveal needed repairs.
- Raise your lawn mower blade. Protect your lawn’s roots from heat by letting grass grow a little longer.
- Limit other outdoor water uses. Sweep driveways and sidewalks with a broom. Always use a nozzle on your hose when watering landscape or washing your car.
- Check your home and repair water leaks. Place a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the water in the bowl turns color you have a leak. Replacing the flapper or other easy adjustments will generally solve the problem at little or no cost. Don’t forget to check showers and sinks for leaks as well.
- Know your water use. Check your water bill regularly to track use. Contact your water supplier for ways to identify and solve higher than normal water use issues.