Tips for saving water during summertime
Last updated 6/29/2021 at 3:22pm
Longtime Fountain Valley residents know that summer can be an exciting but unpredictable season. It’s the warmest time of the year, which makes it great for outdoor festivities. Since the Fountain Valley is a semi-arid location, summer can also bring droughts or forest fires. This is particularly true this year: As of June 24, the U.S. Drought Monitor lists nearly half of Colorado (45.59 percent) as having drought conditions.
With that in mind, an important summertime question is what to do with water supplies. Dan Blankenship, who directs the city of Fountain’s utilities department, said that prudence is always a good thing.
“We always encourage our customers to voluntarily conserve,” he said.
Lucas Hale, general manager of the Widefield Water & Sanitation District, affirmed that point and gave some recommendations.
“As we all live in a high, arid state, I would encourage everyone to be careful with water,” Hale said. “I would encourage customers to utilize low-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads, water-conserving dishwashers and washing machines,” Hale said. “Additionally, I would encourage customers to consider xeriscape for landscaping options or adding some xeriscaping elements to existing landscaping at their home to reduce overall water consumption.”
Hale’s points about indoor plumbing may sound odd to residents used to focusing on sprinklers and other outdoor concerns, which is generally the first thing mentioned in conservation discussions. Katie Helms, Conservation and Sustainability program manager for the city of Fountain, said that about 45 percent of the city’s water supply is spent outdoors.
However, indoor problems can make a big difference. Recently, this newspaper had a broken toilet that kept running over a weekend. This resulted in the office using 4,985 gallons of water in one day, as compared to the usual 65 gallons per day. Therefore, regularly maintaining indoor plumbing and investing in low-flow appliances is always a good choice.
When it comes to watching how much water they use outdoors, residents can benefit by following Fountain’s outdoor watering recommendations.
“We encourage our community members to limit their outdoor watering to before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and no more than three days per week,” Helms said. “That’s going to help them establish sustainable lawns that are drought resilient, because they’re getting that deep root system, and it’s also going to help them keep those utility bills lower even as it is getting hotter outside.”
While this watering schedule is not currently mandatory, it is highly helpful.
“There are nearby cities that typically call them voluntary restrictions, or in some cases they have been made mandatory,” Helms explained. “We are very fortunate to be in a comfortable place with our current water supply, that we are just recommending those best management practices.”
The city also has several free resources that customers can take advantage of. At the moment, the city is working with Resource Central to offer customers free sprinkler system consultations. Each consultation lasts 90 minutes and includes an irrigation test and a recommended water schedule based on the homeowner’s specific location. Customers can sign up at resourcecentral.org/sprinkler-maintenance/.
The city also regularly partners with Colorado State University Pueblo to give conservation seminars. These seminars cover topics like composting, rainwater harvesting and using native plants that require less watering. One of these upcoming seminars, “Composting to Improve Soil Health,” is scheduled for July 24 and will cover soil types that improve water retention. Residents can register at events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ehiufx0m891ee42c.
Residents who want more conservation tips or to hear about upcoming seminars can follow Fountain Utilities’ Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/FountainUtilities). They can also learn more about xeriscaping and installing moisture-retaining soil by reading the “Local spring gardening tips” article in this paper’s March 24 issue. Copies are available for purchase at the newspaper office or the article can be read online (epcan.com/story/2021/03/24/community/local-spring-gardening-tips/9528.html).
Editor's Note: Next week’s issue will feature interviews with local water district managers about how long-term water supplies are doing and how the Fountain Valley is faring in this statewide drought.