Denver Water drafts plan to cut water use 22 percent |

Denver Water drafts plan to cut water use 22 percent

DENVER – Denver Water has laid out a $400 million plan aimed at slashing customers’ annual water use by 22 percent over the next 10 years.The utility, which owns Dillon Reservoir, drafted the plan in hopes of reducing annual consumption by 16.7 billion gallons by 2016. It was to be presented to the utility’s board in August.”Our system is able to meet our current needs, but in the future, it’s going to take more supply, more conservation – or both – to be able to provide for a rapidly urbanizing Front Range,” said Denver Water Commissioner Tom Gougeon.The plan would step up existing conservation programs, such as homeowner rebates on low-flow toilets, but also launch new measures.One proposal would require builders to meet certain standards for water efficiency before the utility would hook up a new home to the water system.Another would require audits of existing homes before they are sold and requiring the replacement of leaky fixtures. The plan also suggests requiring low-flow urinals in new commercial buildings.Municipal and commercial customers might have to add irrigation water meters and remove park lawns.Real estate agents and homebuilders said they wanted to hear more on the developing proposal before judging it.Some of the proposals could require local governments to adopt new ordinances, said Liz Gardener, the utility’s conservation program manager.Gougeon said water officials are trying to build on momentum from the lingering drought, which has encouraged customers to conserve. Since 2002, when Dillon Reservoir’s water levels became so low it was possible to walk across parts of the reservoir, Denver Water’s 1.1 million customers have cut their annual consumption by about 20 percent, to 64 billion gallons last year.Customers might have to pay for half of the $400 million conservation plan, but utility officials said they would earn that back in water savings within six years.

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