Drought conditions caused by lack of precipitation prompted the City of Durango to partner with its four largest water users and other organizations to restrict water usage by limiting water use for irrigation.
After a low summer, southern Colorado is expecting increased precipitation this winter. Precipitation this winter is expected to be 33 percent above last year’s, according to the Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
La Plata County is in an exceptional drought, the most severe categorization, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Fort Lewis College, Durango School District 9-R, Durango Parks & Recreation Department and Hillcrest Golf Course agreed to cut water usage by 10 percent over the summer months from May to September, and again in October, by 20 percent, said Jarrod Biggs, the Assistant Utilities Director for the City of Durango.
Other private groups that use large amounts of water, such as Ska Brewing and various hotels in the area, were asked by the city to limit water usage as well, he said.
From 2013-17, the average water usage for Durango was 1.254 billion gallons each year, which is an average of 3.43 million gallons of water, Briggs said.
The primary source of Durango’s water is the Florida River. The Animas River is the secondary source and Lake Nighthorse is an emergency reserve, he said.
The City of Durango has partnered with the Colorado Water Conservation Board for implementing multi-year drought strategies such as increasing storage capabilities, new water management plans, and how to handle more variable weather, he said.
“We don’t have a treatment facility on the south side of town, and no piping to move the water from the bottom of the damn,” Biggs said. “That is one of those things we want to look at for the coming years.”
FLC follows all mandatory water restrictions, as well as voluntary restrictions, said Marty Pool, the Environmental Center coordinator.
To combat excessive water use, all residential buildings and most other facilities are outfitted with low flow fixtures, such as sinks, showers and toilets, he said.
For students living off campus, the Environmental Center has free efficiency kits that include LED light bulbs, low flow faucet and shower fixtures, and a special bag that makes an old toilet into a low flow toilet, he said.
To save water, students can wash only full loads of laundry and dishes, limit showers to five minutes, and not continuously run faucets when doing dishes or brushing their teeth, Pool said.
Precipitation this winter is expected to be 33 percent above last year’s, according to the Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.