Mandatory H2O restrictions a no go in Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

Mandatory H2O restrictions a no go in Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs' forecast looks sunny with a chance of water restrictions.

Carbondale's current conditions also call for sunshine, but the neighboring town has already implemented mandatory water restrictions amid historically low river levels.

With drought conditions plaguing the Western Slope, many Glenwood Springs residents cannot help but wonder why the town, once known as Defiance, has defied implementing any required watering restrictions itself.

Carbondale's Town Manager Jay Harrington handed down water conservation restrictions, which took effect July 30.

The first two bullet points currently imposed on Carbondale's roughly 7,000 residents include but are not limited to:

• No outdoor irrigation between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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• Properties with an address that ends in an even number or zero can water on even-numbered days of the month. Properties with an address that ends in an odd number can water on odd-numbered days of the month

So, why did Carbondale's mandatory water restriction sentiments not float down Glenwood's way?

"In the past, the city has found in previous drought years that imposing formal water restrictions, like those that are currently being done in the other communities, were counterproductive," Glenwood Springs Assistant Public Works Director Brad Zachman explained. "Potable demand actually increased when users were only allowed to water on specific days or specific times.

"For that reason we've resisted, to the extent possible, issuing formal restrictions and alternatively have taken the approach of reaching out to the community to conserve voluntarily rather than implementing mandatory restrictions," Zachman said.

Glenwood Springs' 10,000-plus residents on July 3, however, learned of low water levels in the Cardiff treated water storage tank, prompting the city to subsequently ask residents to adopt water conservation habits.

The first two bullet points on the city's recommendation for indoor conservation tips on that July 3 news release included, but also were not limited to:

• Check for and repair leaks.

• Install a high-efficiency toilet and only dispose flushable items in the toilet.

The first two bullet points marked for outdoor conservation tips included, but again were not limited to:

• Water only when necessary and preferably in the mornings or evenings.

• Install xeriscape landscaping.

The same July 3 news release from the city of Glenwood Springs also forewarned that the city manager may implement water restrictions, if deemed necessary.

"The previous [July 3 news release] was focused more on the production side, specifically on the southern side of town, where we were having difficulty meeting demands in one area of the town," Zachman said. "The approach has actually been very effective over the past several weeks."

On Tuesday, the city sent out another news release, which stated that the city had initiated Level 2 of its formal Drought Management Plan, and asked all city water users to reduce indoor and outdoor water usage.

The latest advisory also warned how streamflows in Grizzly Creek and No Name Creek, the city's primary raw water sources, were historically low; similar to Carbondale's historically low flows at its source point, the Crystal River and its subsidiary, Nettle Creek, as well as the Roaring Fork River.

"As the creek levels are continuing to drop, now our concern is shifting from not only the potable side, and meeting the demands there, but we're also concerned that the balancing act with the raw water sources are going to be increasingly difficult to satisfy all the stakeholders for those two streams," Zachman said of No Name and Grizzly creeks.

The Tuesday advisory offered the previously aforementioned tips, like installing xeriscape landscaping and installing a high-efficiency toilet, and also encouraged residents to plant during the spring or fall.

"Again, to clarify, the previous press release was focused more on conservation efforts to balance tank levels on the south side of town; that effort has worked for the most part," Zachman said. "Now, we're stretching it one step further because we're concerned that the raw water supplies may be insufficient to meet current demands."

Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa, at this time, has not ordered mandatory water restrictions despite the city's two primary water sources running low.

However, the Aug. 6 news release did emphasize, "Water conservation efforts must be made city-wide by residents and businesses. Mandatory water restrictions will go into effect if voluntary water conservation efforts are not successful."