Most – not all – local entities to consider mandatory water restrictions
SUMMIT COUNTY – Despite county commissioners’ recommendation Monday for countywide water restrictions, at least two local entities say they won’t be enacting them.
Copper Mountain and Keystone officials said they don’t feel strict conservation measures are needed.
Copper Mountain Metro District Manager Elizabeth Black said voluntary conservation has gotten such dramatic results there, it doesn’t appear stronger measures are needed.
“We’re getting the desired effect,” Black said. “Our open dialogue concerning the seriousness of this has translated into huge reductions in water consumption. We were shooting for a 20 percent reduction in non-golf course irrigation. We got 45 percent in two weeks, just from July 1 to July 14.”
Copper Mountain officials are making every effort to protect the golf course and provide it with irrigation, citing the economic benefits of the course. Copper Mountain is one of several county groups that also benefits from a recent water donation by ExxonMobil, whose release of 5,500 acre feet of water from Ruedi Reservoir allows upstream users with junior rights to continue using Green Mountain Reservoir water.
Keystone gets its water from wells, and those levels are holding steady, said Snake River Water District Administrator Norm Ringhand.
“We’re a little bit of a unique situation here,” he said. “We do not use surface water. Dillon Valley and Dillon use surface water and the streams are drying up. But our wells are deep wells, and we’re not seeing any drop-off in that water at all.
“We have the physical wet water. And the customers of the district have paid for a better water source. I think they should have the right to use the water without any restrictions right now.”
Additionally, water consumption at Keystone is down 5 percent year to date, Ringhand said, which he believes may be the result of visitors voluntarily cutting back on water use.
But town councils in Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge will talk about the possibility of mandatory restrictions in coming work sessions.
The town of Dillon, along with the East Dillon Water District – which covers the Summit Cove area – already have enacted mandatory restrictions.
Like Keystone, representatives of some other local entities say their water source isn’t reliant on stream flows, and that makes them wonder if restrictions are necessary.
“We have six wells in town, and each of those wells is holding strong and seems to replenish after we draw out of it every day,” said Silverthorne Town Manager Kevin Batchelder. “We have no concerns about water supply at this point.
“But from a wholistic view, it’s hard for us to point a finger at the Front Range unless we’re doing something ourselves to conserve water. We recognize the seriousness of the drought, and even though we have good, solid senior rights, there can come a point in time where there just isn’t enough water to satisfy everybody’s rights.”
As a result, Batchelder said, the council was likely to discuss the possibility of water restrictions at Tuesday’s work session, and perhaps again at the regular council meeting tonight.
Frisco is under voluntary restrictions. Under those provisions, the town is asking residents and businesses to avoid watering between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“I believe we’ll discuss with council at the Aug. 6 work session if they feel further restrictions are necessary,” said Frisco Public Works Director Tim Mack. “We have five wells that are drilled throughout town and a surface water plant that takes water from North Ten Mile Creek. We are using a combination of surface water and wells to meet the demand. We do monitor aquifer levels, and we have not seen any significant drawdown at this point. Obviously, that could change at any given point in time.”
Summit County Commissioners Monday drafted a letter Monday to be sent to all towns and special districts in the county, advising them to enact mandatory water restrictions.
Upper Blue Basin Water Commissioner Scott Hummer told Summit Leadership Forum members last week the drought is taking a serious toll on the area’s water supplies, and without conservation measures, there might not be enough water for the ski areas to make snow in the fall.
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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