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Running dry

Lu Snyder

DILLON VALLEY – While Dillon and Dillon Valley officials worry about whether their water source will dry up before the drought ends, some Dillon Valley residents remain cavalier about the water shortage.

“I can look around Dillon Valley and it’s pretty obvious who’s trying to help and it’s pretty obvious who isn’t,” said Francis Winston, chief of Lake-Dillon Fire Rescue and district manager for the Dillon Valley water and sewer district.

Both Dillon and Dillon Valley depend on Straight Creek for their water. Neither Dillon nor Dillon Valley has raw (untreated) water storage. Dillon Valley has 600,000 gallons of treated water stored. That’s less than the subdivision’s average daily use of 608,000 gallons during June 2001.

As a result, officials from Dillon and Dillon Valley have been keeping a close watch on water consumption and the levels on Straight Creek.

At the beginning of the month, data from a USGS gauge on the creek showed flows were 8 percent of the average for the past 15 years, said Dillon interim town manager Eric Holgerson.

Winston said current flows are typical for November, not July.

“What will happen to the wintertime flow, I don’t know,” he said. “And people I’ve talked to can’t answer those questions either.”

Dillon town officials recently announced their decision to move from voluntary to mandatory water restrictions, due to the water emergency. But while Winston said he’d like to match Dillon’s efforts in Dillon Valley, it will be difficult.

Though Winston can monitor the subdivision’s overall water consumption (which was down 12 percent in June from the same time last June) there are no individual water meters on homes.

“We bill by a flat rate, which most of the time isn’t a problem. But in situations like right now, it’s a tool I don’t have to help us,” Winston said.

Additionally, Winston doesn’t have town staff or police to help enforce any restrictions he and the water board officials might want to impose.

Though numerous yards in Dillon Valley are quickly turning yellow or brown, a quick drive around the subdivision Thursday revealed almost 40 homes with near-green or better lawns. Despite the noon hour, one resident was hosing down his truck and at least one other was watering the grass. This despite Winston’s request for voluntary water conservation.

Winston said he distributed pamphlets to residents in early June asking for cooperation in water conservation. The pamphlet listed tips for saving water, including watering only early in the morning and after sundown, and washing vehicles using buckets instead of hoses.

If the water situation gets progressively worse, however, Winston said he will be forced to find a way to mandate water restrictions.

“It would be difficult,” Winston said. “But you’d probably find a way. We’d probably look at increasing water rates to hire someone to police illegal water use. It’d be sad if we had to do that.”

While some Dillon Valley residents continue to use their water frivolously, Winston said water (or lack of) is a constant topic of concern for him and the board.

For now, there’s enough water in Straight Creek to meet demands, he said. Tomorrow is another story.

“We’re moving into uncharted territories,” Winston said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen to the creek.”

Winston said he encourages residents to be more vigilant about their water use.

“I would encourage people not to maintain Kentucky bluegrass. This is not the time to do that.”

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or lsnyder@summitdaily.com

Nine Tips for Saving 10 Percent of Water

– Cut watering time by 10 percent and use less fertilizer

– Tune up automatic sprinkler and don’t irrigate near pavement

– Water only in early morning and after sundown

– Fix leaks

– Cut shower time

– Run dishwasher only chock full

– Wash laundry in full loads only

– Use a bucket instead of a hose to wash cars. One for soap, one to rinse.

– Sweep walks instead of hosing


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