As of June 18, the Blue River flow is good at the Breckenridge water system diversion at Goose Pasture Tarn Reservoir, just south of town. The town of Breckenridge relies on river flow, with a very solid senior water right, for its drinking water. Half the stored water in the tarn is leased or owned by the Breckenridge Ski Resort and is reserved for snowmaking. The other half is designated as an emergency reserve to supplement low stream flows for our drinking water demand; this use has not been enacted in the last 40 years.
Breckenridge requests our citizens voluntarily enact their own water conservation measures, especially with the current severe drought conditions, for the good of our community as well as the Blue River.
Outside: Please limit outside watering to no more than 3 days per week and no more than 3 hours per day from evening to early morning. Drip systems and hand watering can be done anytime. Irrigation system audits by a qualified professional are suggested to correct inefficiencies. Breckenridge's Landscaping Policy and Landscaping Guide recommend using low-flow drip irrigation systems to establish and maintain plants. Recycling water and hand watering is also recommended. Planting natives and/or those species adapted to the high-alpine environment is encouraged. In general, these species are more drought tolerant after establishment. The planting of large areas of sod or other non-native grasses and exotic landscape species that require excessive watering is strongly discouraged.
Outside and Inside: Look for the EPA WaterSense label on irrigation equipment and fixtures or appliances. EPA's WaterSense labeling program is 6 years old, which means that the product is efficient and performs well. It provides the same confidence as the EnergyStar label. EPA has about 1,014 products with the Water Sense label, which includes irrigation controls, toilets, flush urinals, faucets and shower heads. For additional EPA WaterSense information, visit www.epa.gov/watersense
Inside: A running toilet can be the leading cause of a high water bill. To test for that, put some food coloring in the tank. If the color shows up in the bowl the toilet is leaking. Toilet repair assistance can found at www.toiletology.com or by contacting a plumber. The new WaterSense label toilets have superior flushing and reliability, compared to older models. Toilets contribute to about 40 percent of the indoor use. Check out www.watersaver.org and other web- sites for more information.
The town of Breckenridge has a tiered water rate structure to encourage conservation. Customers are individually contacted when high use is noted with the two- month billing cycle. A leak survey is done every year on roughly 25 percent of the system. At the end of four years, the whole system has been surveyed and the process starts over. Some parts of the system are surveyed every year, which are prone to main breaks that do not surface from underground.
The town of Breckenridge encourages everyone to do their part in helping conserve this precious commodity. For more tips, visit www.townofbreckenridge.com.
Look for this column every Monday throughout the summer. Articles will focus on drought, water conservation and the perspectives/realities of water management in Summit County. Due to drought conditions in the Blue River watershed, water providers in Summit County are implementing increased levels of water conservation. Please go to your water provider's website to see how these changes will affect you. For additional water conservation tips visit: www.blueriverwatershed.org.