Drought Watch and Water Conservation
With the US Drought Monitor declaring Pitkin County in Extreme and Severe Drought Conditions and with local streams running at 40-70% of median flows, the City of Aspen is under a Stage 2 Water Shortage in an effort to conserve water communitywide. As our water supply is solely from local streams, we must all work together to conserve our precious resource.
The objective of water conservation measures during Stage Two is a 10-15% water use reduction systemwide and a 15-25% water reduction in outdoor use.
(1) Watering of any lawn, garden, landscaped area, tree, shrub or other plant shall be prohibited from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except from a hand-held hose or container or drip irrigation system.
(2) Watering of any lawn, garden, landscaped area, tree, shrub, or other plant shall be done only every other day on an "odd-even" schedule, which means watering according to address number.
(3) There shall be no washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios or other paved areas apart from cleaning for sanitary purposes. Any washing must follow Stage 2 Water Restrictions including washing before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m..
(4) There shall be no refilling of swimming pools with water furnished by the City.
(5) Permitted landscape installations will be allowed if they comply with existing Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance standards and follow Stage 2 Water Restrictions.
(6) No new water connections shall be authorized; however, existing authorizations shall be honored; provided, however, that this subsection (5) shall not apply to users on a well whose well has run dry.
(7) Upon declaration of Stage Two water shortage, increases in water rates for tier three (3) and tier four (4), (Sections 25.16.010 and 25.16.020 and 25.16.021), shall be imposed as mandated by the City of Aspen City Manager up to the maximum rates defined in Section 25.28.040.
What is a Stage One Drought Declaration?
The objective of water use restrictions during this stage is a ten percent (10%) reduction in treated water use; ten percent (10%) reduction in pressurized raw water use; and, ten percent (10%) reduction in non-pressurized raw water use. Voluntary conservation is encouraged during this condition. During the period designated Stage One, the City Council, by resolution, shall adopt one (1) or more of the following additional measures which may be altered by resolution of the City Council during a Stage One condition:
(1) There shall be potable water, pressurized raw water, and non-pressurized raw water lawn watering only to the extent determined permissible by the City Council according to the demands of the particular period in question. If no other specific schedule is adopted by City Council, an odd-even schedule shall be in effect on a voluntary basis. An "odd-even" schedule means that addresses ending in odd numbers and addresses ending in even numbers will water on alternate days, with odd numbers only irrigating on odd-numbered days and even numbers only irrigating on even-numbered days.
(2) Public education materials shall be provided to encourage efficient use of the available water supply.
(3) Public facilities will be directed to implement water use restrictions by administrative order, including: limiting irrigation of public parks and golf courses to an extent greater than the target reduction in overall water use; reducing street washing to minimum level necessary to comply with air quality standards and suspending fire hydrant flushing and testing except when required for completion and acceptance of a newly constructed water system.
(4) Upon declaration of Stage One water shortage, increases in water rates for tiers three (3) and four (4), (Sections 25.16.010 and 25.16.020 and 25.16.021), shall be imposed as mandated by the City of Aspen City Manager up to the maximum rates defined in Section 25.28.040.
Helpful Drought Links:
Roaring Fork Conservancy - For streamflows and snowpack
Colorado State University- Drought FAQ
Western Water Assessment- Intermountain West Climate Dashboard
A drought is defined as "a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrologic imbalance in the affected area." -Glossary of Meteorology (1959).
In easier to understand terms, a drought is a period of unusually persistent dry weather that persists long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage and/or water supply shortages. The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration, and the size of the affected area.
There are actually four different ways that drought can be defined.
Meteorological-a measure of departure of precipitation from normal. Due to climatic differences, what might be considered a drought in one location of the country may not be a drought in another location.
Agricultural-refers to a situation where the amount of moisture in the soil no longer meets the needs of a particular crop.
Hydrological-occurs when surface and subsurface water supplies are below normal.
Socioeconomic-refers to the situation that occurs when physical water shortages begin to affect people.