Lower Blue planning for water woes
DILLON – While this week’s rain has sprinkled Summit County with some hope amid the current drought, Dillon and Dillon Valley officials continue to plan for worsening conditions.
“Just because the rains have come, the problem hasn’t necessarily gone away,” said Dillon interim town manager Eric Holgerson.
Though most of the county’s municipalities have become increasingly concerned about the drought as summer has progressed, Dillon and Dillon Valley likely would be the first to suffer water shortages.
Dillon and Dillon Valley depend on Straight Creek for water. Officials for both areas have been keeping a close eye on the creek, using a U.S. Geological Survey gauge to monitor its water levels.
By early July, creek flows were similar to those normally recorded in the fall, Holgerson said, and only 8 percent of average water levels for the past 15 years.
Dillon town officials started the county’s voluntary water restrictions when they requested businesses and residents limit outdoor watering in early June. But not everyone cooperated with the suggested restrictions, which, combined with the creek’s low flows, prompted council members to impose mandatory restrictions July 24.
Dillon Valley still is under voluntary restrictions, as the subdivision does not have individual water meters nor the ability to enforce mandatory restrictions, said Francis Winston, chief of Lake-Dillon Fire Rescue and district manager for the Dillon Valley water and sewer district.
Holgerson said Dillon and Dillon Valley officials realize recent showers have not alleviated water concerns. They have drafted an emergency drought response plan to be imposed when creek levels reach a certain shortage point.
Currently, the creek is running about 5 cubic feet per second (cfs), he said. Should flows decrease to 2 cfs, outside water use will be banned in both districts. When it reaches 1 cfs, swimming pools, hot tubs and car washing also will be banned.
Additionally, the districts will institute a conservation rate structure – where the price of water increases with the quantity used. And the districts will share the use of only one of the two water plants.
“If the flow falls below 1 cfs, it would be much easier to put that water into one treatment plant and then split it, rather then split the small amount of water between two treatment plants,” Holgerson said.
An emergency water interconnect is under construction and would allow Dillon and Dillon Valley to obtain water from Silverthorne if needed. That construction should be complete by Labor Day, Holgerson said.
Knowing that Silverthorne’s assistance is not guaranteed if water shortages are too severe, Holgerson said Dillon and Dillon Valley officials are working on the next step of their plan: what to do if Silverthorne does not have extra water for the areas. They also have yet to finalize the details of a water conservation rate.
Holgerson said officials are still concerned about water shortages in Dillon and Dillon Valley, but are happy to have a defined plan with trigger points for enactment.
Meanwhile, Dillon continues its mandatory water restrictions. Outdoor water use is allowed Tuesday through Sunday only, between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Neighborhoods have been assigned alternate days of use, with a maximum of three days watering allowed weekly for each residence and business.
This week, Silverthorne instituted voluntary water restrictions with neighborhoods there also assigned alternate days for watering between Tuesday and Sunday, between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Frisco officials have asked their residents to avoid watering between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Copper metro district and Dillon Valley officials also have asked residents and businesses to restrict their water use.
Although Breckenridge has encouraged water conservation, officials there have yet to draft a water restriction plan.
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dillon Mandatory Water Restrictions
– Monday: No outside water use allowed
– Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Outside water use allowed for north side of Highway 6, midnight to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight only
– Wednesday, Friday, Sunday: Outside water use allowed for south Side of Highway 6, midnight to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight.
– For more information, contact
Dillon town hall, (970) 468-2403.
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