Water demand plunges along heavily populated Front Range | SummitDaily.com

Water demand plunges along heavily populated Front Range

DENVER – The level of water consumption in Denver has dropped to levels not seen in more than 30 years, inspired in part by constant efforts to conserve the precious resource in the midst of a West-wide drought.Denver Water, the state’s largest utility, delivered just 59.4 billion gallons last year – 22.6 billion gallons fewer than it did before the onset of drought in 2000. That’s a 28 percent drop over a span in which the utility saw a 65 percent growth in the number of customers.”It’s astonishing,” said Liz Gardener, Denver Water’s conservation manager. “Now, can we stay there? We don’t know for sure. We don’t know exactly what has brought usage down to 1969 levels. We can’t predict if it will continue.”Similar savings have been reported in Aurora and Colorado Springs, two other giant water users along eastern Colorado’s Front Range.The reduced demand is mixed news for the utilities. Last year, Denver Water said it would have to raise its rates by 8 percent annually from 2005 through 2009 in part to make up for the lost revenue. Smaller and fewer lawns, low-flow toilets and more efficient washing machines may also keep that demand low.In Aurora, water use has declined 30 percent since 2000, public utilities spokeswoman Melissa Elliott told The Denver Post. That translates to about 16.7 billion gallons saved each year.Colorado Springs Utilities’ customers cut their 2004 use by 23 percent from 2000, helping the utility save 6.8 billion gallons last year.Greg Kropkowski, a senior pricing analyst with the utility, said new rates put in place to encourage conservation will be kept in place “in recognition of the preciousness of the resource.””If you are a water utility in the West, you have to be happy with that – so long as you haven’t flushed your financial future along with it,” he said.

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