Longmont and Colorado have had precious few April showers to bring May flowers -- or even those in June. According to Nelson Tipton, water resources analyst for the city of Longmont's Public Works and Natural Resources Department, with Longmont's existing water supplies and the city's residents continued good water conservation practices, Longmont water customers will have enough water to meet 2012 water demands.
Longmont continues to have a diversified water portfolio: the Colorado Big Thompson and Windy Gap water projects and St. Vrain Basin water rights are important resources. The city's St. Vrain water rights consist of senior and junior water rights.
Water rights, a concept in water law, has its origins in the days of the Old West -- essentially, first come, first served. Newer communities are less fortunate than Longmont.
The 2012 stream-flow forecast shows this year to be one of the drier on record for the region, and similar to 2002, according to Tipton. Although last winter was fairly dry, the reservoirs filled earlier, a result of melt-off of the high snowpack from the 2010/2011 winter. Also, on May 8, the City Council reviewed and approved the city's 2012 Water Supply and Drought Management Plan. To remain at a Sustainable Conservation Drought Level, this level continues to encourage water conservation on a voluntary basis. We have more water stored now because we conserved in the past.
Additionally, the city annually partners with the Center for Resource Conservation's Water Division regarding several of the city's water conservation programs. Information-filled resources for conserving water include: The CRC website at http://conservationcenter.org/water-home, as well as the link to Longmont's PWNR at ci.longmont.co.us/pwwu/water/conservation/faqs.htm
Free xeriscape seminars were held in April, and garden-in-a-box kits were made available for pickup on May 19. This gardening kit contained plants suitable for Colorado's climate. But it's still timely to help conserve water. Listed below are some examples of water conservation best management practices.
1. Change your habits: Use less water. Don't let water run when shaving or brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers. Save water after cooking vegetables or pasta; water plants with it. Keep a water jug in the refrigerator for drinking -- avoid waiting for tap water to run cold. Wash only full loads in your dishwasher.
2. Install water-saving fixtures. All homes built since 1996 have low-flow devices. Install aerators in all of your faucets. Install a low-flow shower head that uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute. Install a displacement device in your toilet. But don't use bricks -- they damage the toilet.
3. Check for leaks and repair them. A dripping faucet can waste more water daily than a person needs for drinking weekly.
Change outdoor water-use habits, too. Outdoor water use is more than 50 percent of water we consume, and it has the most potential for conservation.
1. A taller lawn shades the roots, which grow deeper and use water more efficiently. So adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting.
2. Cycle and soak. Colorado soil has high clay content; water will run off and be wasted if you water 30 minutes at a time. Instead, water the lawn in three 10-minute cycles with time between for absorption -- do so in the cool mornings or evenings. There's less evaporation.
3. Take your car to a commercial car wash that recycles water -- you use more water when filling your wash-and-rinse buckets at home.
Water conservation is voluntary. But if your neighbors are wasting water and letting it go down the drain, tell them they're all wet. Besides, they'll save money on their water bill.