By Ann Baker, Denver Water Communications and Marketing and CWCC Member
April’s snowstorms along the Front Range and in our mountain watersheds have helped a lot with our dire water supply situation. But this is the second year in a row of below-average snowpack and drier-than-normal conditions in our watersheds. Denver Water’s reservoirs haven’t been full since July 2011, and reservoir levels are still well below normal.
We never know what future weather is going to be like, so it’s always important to manage water supplies carefully. Even if the next couple of weeks bring us back to average snowpack levels, Denver Water expects to have the Stage 2 mandatory drought restrictions in place to save as much water as possible this summer. Denver Water will know more about its water supply situation in July after the runoff.
The Stage 2 drought, effective April 1, means all businesses, industrial and government facilities may water only on Tuesdays and Fridays. For other drought rules and 2013 drought pricing, visit www.denverwater.org/drought.
Following these restrictions alone won’t achieve all of the needed savings. Businesses can help reach this goal by:
- Educating employees, contractors and others in your facility about the importance of water conservation. Visit www.denverwater.org/EducationOutreach/Speakers to have a Denver Water employee speak to your company about drought.
- Applying for Denver Water’s Water Budget Program, which allows large irrigators an exemption from watering two days a week as long as they cut their use 35 percent. Learn more at http://www.denverwater.org/Drought/WaterBudget.
- Performing a leak survey for the facility. Watch the meter after hours or on weekends to see if there are any leaks. Larger, more complex facilities may need sub-metering. Denver Water offers free commercial water-use audits. Visit www.denverwater.org/Audits.
- Making plans to replace Kentucky bluegrass with Xeriscape.
- Serving water only upon request at restaurants.
- Replacing older toilets and urinals with high-efficiency toilets and urinals. Denver Water offers rebates for commercial toilet replacement. Visit www.denverwater.org/rebates.
- Replacing old aerators and showerheads with new low-flow models.
- Regularly inspecting, maintaining and repairing your boiler systems. Install a condensate return line on your boiler if it does not already have one.
- Identifying all single-pass flows in your facility. These flows often are associated with equipment cooling for pumps, compressors, ice machines, air conditioners and other equipment. Denver Water’s incentive program will pay for a substantial portion of replacement costs. Visit http://www.denverwater.org/Conservation/IncentivePrograms.
- Regularly inspecting, maintaining and repairing your cooling tower system, which consumes a significant amount of a building’s water. Denver Water has a cooling tower audit program, in which Denver Water will pay an engineering firm to evaluate the condition and operation of your cooling tower. Visit http://www.denverwater.org/Conservation/IncentivePrograms.
- Reviewing historical water usage for your facility. Analyzing several years of consumption data will often identify undiscovered leaks or other problems. Track your water use online: http://www.denverwater.org/BillingRates/WaterConsumptionHistory.
Denver Water’s Cheesman Reservoir, shown here in this February photo, is lower now than it was going into the 2002 drought – and that turned out to be the worst drought in 300 years.