The water restrictions Breckenridge residents and businesses have adjusted to in times of drought will now be year-round and permanent.
The town council amended a law during a meeting Tuesday, April 22, to extend water conservation efforts during drought that limited outdoor use to three times a week.
The restrictions were last put in place in 2003 and 2012, and the new rules will take effect June 1.
“We’re a headwaters community, and we want to take a leadership role,” said Peter Grosshuesch, the town’s community development director.
Properties east of Main Street or Highway 9 may water only on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while properties west of those roads may water only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On those days, watering is restricted to between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. the next day.
People can still keep their landscaping alive under those restrictions, Grosshuesch said, calling unlimited water use unwise, especially in a semiarid climate.
According to the Western Regional Climate Center, Breckenridge received an average of 163 inches of snow a year between 1948 and 2005. But that number translates to just 19 inches of water per year.
“Water is a valuable commodity,” Grosshuesch said. “It’s expensive to produce and deliver.”
When the town asked for public comment on how the change would affect pressure-cleaning driveways and parking lots, officials received hearty support.
“The vast majority of people said, ‘No, you shouldn’t be using water to do that. You should just sweep them,’” Grosshuesch said.
But the town exempted using water for cleaning those surfaces anyway, as long as people use hoses with shut-off nozzles.
Some businesses in the food industry expressed concern about the permanent restrictions. Due to health codes, they must clean pollen off their outdoor tables, and they like to do that with water. Grossheusch said that specific case also will be exempt.
First-time violators will be warned, but a second-time offender will be fined $250. A third-time offense warrants a $500 fine, and any offenses after that will cost $750. Out-of-town violators will be charged 1.5 times the fine for residents.