Will water shortage lead to "water rage’? | SummitDaily.com

Will water shortage lead to "water rage’?

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – Angry letters and phone calls abound, and there have been a few isolated incidents of vandalism and mischief, but for the most part, Summit residents haven’t let the lack of wet get the best of them, police sources said.

Summit County’s water shortage has prompted some towns, such as Dillon, to impose mandatory water restrictions. Other local governments and districts are cautiously monitoring water resources and urging conservation among users, but that hasn’t been strong enough for some residents.

A Summit Cove property manager reported someone was shutting off faucets as he tried to water the complex lawns. He found his hoses tied in knots, he said. Other callers to the Summit Daily News report businesses and neighbors watering during the day – even questioning the excess of Fourth of July squirt gun skirmishes.

Frisco public works employees discovered Tuesday morning someone had destroyed the sprinkler heads at the Historic Park on Main Street.

Last month, someone repeatedly vandalized sprinkler heads in Silverthorne’s Rainbow Park. Sprinklers were hit multiple times over three weeks, said police administrative assistant Verna Pottle.

“At first, we did think it was “water rage,'” Pottle said. “But in this case, we believe it isn’t water rage in a conservation sense. We decided it was a bad timing cycle on the system and that the heads closest to sidewalks and populated areas were coming on when there were a lot of people nearby. They got wet and frustrated, probably.”

But Pottle, who said the Silverthorne Police Department hasn’t received any calls about water overuse, said she’s seeing the effects of drought concerns at home. Pottle said the grass outside her condominium is “dirt-brown,” while neighbors on either side are golf-course green.

“It’s a common area, so there are a few sprinklers out there,” Pottle said.

“I try to move one toward my area in the morning, but by the time I get home someone has moved it. If it was my property and not common, I’d probably be more upset about it.”

Summit County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Jill Berman had a similar reaction. Berman said she hadn’t seen any reports of “water rage,” but has seen the debate escalate between letters to the editor in the Summit Daily News. She hears an occasional conversation on the drought and what should be done about it, she said, “and it sounds like the automatic sprinklers are the culprit.”

“I had to call my own homeowners’ association and tell them to turn the sprinklers off,” said Berman, a Breckenridge-area resident. “It’s been raining all week, and they’re still running them.”

Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Chief Francis Winston, who also serves as district manager for the Dillon Valley water and sewer district and has questioned water use in the neighborhood, said the climate of debate and concern is a prime opportunity to reeducate residents about the environment in which they live. Winston said he regularly receives calls from homeowners who “want to know why we haven’t shut the water off.”

Winston, who has no staff to enforce water restrictions that might be passed and has distributed information on water conservation to residents, said he tries to encourage the concerned callers to work within their homeowners’ associations.

“You can either be water cops and shove it down people’s throats, or you can get people to be aware – I prefer the second,” Winston said. “But this shouldn’t be a one-time affair; people have forgotten where we live, that it is a dry climate, and they should be living like that all the time. It’s not a point of how much water are we using, but whether we should be trying to keep green grass lawns.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

Water Restrictions in Summit County

– Frisco officials have asked residents to avoid watering between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

– Copper Mountain Metropolitan District and Dillon Valley residents are asked to voluntarily conserve water.

– The East Dillon Water District, which serves Summit Cove, Summerwood, KeyWest Farms, Snowberry, Soda Creek, Whispering Pines and Swan Meadow Village, is under mandatory restrictions: Watering is limited to between sunset and 8 a.m. Wednesdays and Sundays for even-numbered addresses, Tuesdays and Saturdays for odd-numbered addresses.

– Dillon business owners and residents are restricted in outdoor water use to between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Neighborhoods have been assigned alternate days for water use.

– Keystone has not enacted any mandatory water restrictions. Breckenridge and Silverthorne governments are considering implementing water restrictions.

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