Our View: Adapting to the new normal for water in the West | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Adapting to the new normal for water in the West

Don't be fooled by the rain and snow of the past couple days; Northwest Colorado remains very much in the midst of extreme drought conditions. And absent historic levels of moisture throughout the next few weeks, nothing can change that reality.

The good news is that Fish Creek Reservoir, the primary source of Steamboat Springs' municipal water supply, will fill to its brim this spring and early summer. But because of long-range forecasts that predict above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation from April through August, the irrigation season will last longer than usual, thereby drawing down the reservoir.

With those factors in mind, Steamboat Springs water officials wisely pushed for the early adoption of mandatory water restrictions this year. The Stage 2 restrictions, identical to what were enacted late last June, will go into effect May 1 and will impact all water customers serviced by the city of Steamboat Springs, Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, Steamboat II Metro District and Tree Haus Metro District.

Our hope is that such restrictions will become increasingly commonplace year after year. Only then will residents and businesses adopt a mindset of conservation, and only then will we as a community begin to realize our water consumption habits often far exceed our needs. This is the new normal in the American West.

So, beginning May 1, outdoor watering will be prohibited from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents with even-numbered addresses can water only Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Residents with odd-numbered addresses can water only Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No one can water Wednesdays.

Other Stage 2 restrictions include the prohibition of vehicle washing at residences, and hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks and parking lots cannot be washed with potable water.

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Last year's mandatory restrictions resulted in a 15 percent reduction in water use across the city and in the neighboring subdivisions like Steamboat II and Tree Haus. That equates to a staggering amount of water throughout the course of the summer. The consumptive savings also should put pressure on other rural subdivisions and developments to adopt their own restrictions. We hope residents in some of those outlying areas and towns recognize the role they can and should play in conserving the world's most precious resource, even if their access to water isn't specifically inhibited because of drought conditions.

In that regard, Steamboat Springs deserves kudos for its proactive approach to water conservation measures. We're optimistic residents and businesses will go above and beyond the Stage 2 restrictions as part of their acceptance and recognition of the new normal.