Town of Breckenridge to impose water restrictions
BRECKENRIDGE – With more than two months to go until the snowpack begins to melt, Breckenridge town officials have put plans in place to encourage people to conserve water this spring and summer.
“Breckenridge has plenty of water unless the drought is prolonged,” said town manager Tim Gagen. “But we need to do what we can to pass along as much water as we can.”
Breckenridge, which has voluntary water restrictions in place, plans to implement a three-phase water conservation program based on how much water is flowing into Goose Pasture Tarn. When full, the tarn, located south of town, holds about 800 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is the amount of water it takes to fill an acre of land to a depth of one foot, or enough to supply a family of four for a year.
Town officials will implement the first phase of the program when flows into the tarn dip below 20 cubic feet per second (cfs), typically by the end of June.
At that point, outside watering will be permitted three days a week between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. for a maximum of three hours. People can wash their vehicles only on lawns, and flowers and gardens can be watered using only a watering can or hose with a shut-off nozzle.
When flows decrease to 10 cfs, outside watering will be restricted to two days a week, and the town will charge residents who use more than 12,000 gallons in a two-month period.
The town will put the third phase into place when flows decrease to 5 cfs, but they have yet to outline specific restrictions. Phase three could include a ban on outside watering or, in extreme cases, water rationing.
Regardless of how much water is flowing into the tarn, town officials will not allow people to use water to clean parking lots, and restaurants will be asked to serve water only upon request.
To enforce the restrictions, the town proposes town employees, police, community service officers and citizens serve as the “eyes and ears” for the town.
Additionally, the town will punish violators, first with a warning, then with fines of $250 to $750. The town will consider banning outdoor watering – or even shutting off water – for repeat violators.
Town officials said that while heavy fines might encourage people to save water, water users probably would question dramatic rate increases.
The low cost of water is why people don’t think twice about using water, Gagen said. But town officials can’t start charging people higher prices – say, even 50 cents a gallon – because they’d be sued for price gouging, he said.
“Residential (use) is such a small piece,” Gagen said. “And we really have a good community. People don’t abuse water.”
Town officials plan to notify customers of restrictions via mail, door hangers, the local newspapers, radio, local cable channels and the town’s Web page. Town water superintendent Gary Roberts also is compiling information about how much the town uses in its everyday operations to show the public what the town is doing to save water.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
The cost of water for Breckenridge Water District users
User Bi-monthly cost of 12,000 gallons Cost per gallon Cost for overuse
In-town $23.05 .0019 cents $2.35/1,000 gallons
Out-of-town $34.57 .0028 cents $3.45/1,000 gallons
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