Survey: Residents doing their part to save water
DENVER – A Rocky Mountain News analysis on water use in the five largest communities on the Front Range and the five largest on the Western Slope shows residents have slashed water use an average of 20 percent since 2001 amid a deep drought.According to the 10-city survey by the newspaper, the fast-growing Denver suburb of Aurora led in water-saving efforts with a 35 percent drop in residential use since 2001. Fort Collins had a 34 percent drop, and Denver cut home water use 29 percent.Since the summer of 2002, many towns and utilities have imposed restricted lawn watering schedules, steeper water rates and sometimes surcharges for high-volume water use.That prompted Aurora resident Darrel Welch to get rid of a sprawling, water-intensive vegetable garden and to take shorter showers. “Now, I can take a nice shower in five minutes,” Welch said.A recent study by Denver Water, which serves 1.2 million customers, showed people were most likely to save by watering their lawns less and by taking shorter showers.”When they see they can water efficiently and still have a healthy landscape, there’s no incentive to water inefficiently,” said Stu Feinglas, a water resource analyst for the city of Westminster. “Now when it rains, people are turning off their (sprinkler system) controllers. Five years ago they weren’t paying attention.”Despite a wet year in 2004 that contributed to less outdoor water use, homeowners cut indoor water use too. In Denver indoor use fell as much as 20 percent.The Rocky Mountain News survey found Aspen homeowners had the highest water use, at 161 gallons per person per day. That was still a 21 percent drop from 2004.While Aurora saw the biggest decline in use, residential per-person water use was 77 gallons. In Steamboat Springs and Vail, it was 68 gallons per day. Water officials there credit a strong environmental ethic, and, in Vail, watering restrictions and new rate structures.Water utilities say systemwide water use among residential, commercial and industrial customers is down an average of 17 percent statewide.
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