Takin’ water saving to the streets

Takin’ water saving to the streets

How Denver Water is bringing water savings straight to your doorstep.

By Dana Strongin

The 2015 Water Savers.

For Denver Water, summer signals the season for Water Savers – the friendly crew of water-efficiency gurus we dispatch each year to cruise neighborhoods and promote efficient water use.

Although they are schooled in our summer watering rules, Water Savers aren’t out to put the heat on summer fun. They are eager to share tips and tools to help you sprinkle efficiency in your watering routine.

Water Savers come armed with the knowledge and technology to look up customers’ water consumption history and review irrigation controller settings on the spot. And since they represent just one of the many resources we offer to help you conserve, Water Savers can suggest other programs to help you use only what you need this summer.

Want to know what you might gain from a chat with a member of the Water Savers team? Watch this video to find out.

The talk of the town

The talk of the town

The California drought was a hot topic at a water industry convention in Anaheim. Denver Water staff got an up-close look at the problems and potential solutions.

Dry river beds dot the California landscape after years of drought.

Dry river beds dot the California landscape after years of drought.

By Steve Snyder

A friendly attendant in the convention center parking lot perfectly captured the moment.

“What event is going on here today?” he asked a bus full of visitors.

“We’re here for a water convention,” one visitor answered.

“Great! Can you all please do something to fix this drought?”

At the American Water Works Association’s annual convention in early June, the lingering drought was top of mind for the water professionals in attendance. Several of us from Denver Water made the trip, and we were all eager to get a first-hand look at the story that has captured so many headlines.

After all, California and Colorado are connected when it comes to water use.

Here are a few of our impressions and takeaways from the conference:

Evidence of drought is everywhere. Arriving in Southern California, the cities at first appeared quite green. But a closer look revealed dry river beds, wilting landscapes and signs declaring drought. At restaurants, the waiters didn’t bring you water unless you asked for it. You couldn’t flip to a news station without hearing something about water use.

The state of California is heavily involved in the efforts to drastically reduce water use. “It’s different to see the state government taking such an active role in mandating conservation,” said Melissa Elliott, our assistant director of Public Affairs, who attended the conference. “In Colorado, drought is usually handled at a local level, even when it affects the entire state.”

These hotel sprinklers are a good example of why it’s important to periodically check your sprinklers and ensure the heads are properly adjusted.

These hotel sprinklers are a good example of why it’s important to periodically check your sprinklers and ensure the heads are properly adjusted.

Getting everyone on board isn’t easy, even with all the publicity. While the conference was abuzz with talk of conservation and efficiency, the lessons didn’t always translate outside the conference walls.

We heard several conference goers comment that while water officials in California were focused on the drought, many businesses didn’t seem to be. In several of the conference hotels, there were no clear conservation messages about saving water by reusing towels and sheets. One conference attendee even observed a maintenance man watering hotel landscape that clearly wasn’t stressed.

And perhaps most telling, we noticed several hotel sprinklers watering the sidewalks and politely notified hotel management. The lady at the front desk was embarrassed and called maintenance immediately.

The water pros are working the problem. While some of the conference sessions about conservation sounded very familiar, we learned some valuable lessons about what other utilities are doing to make customers more water-wise.

One innovation is called “advanced metering infrastructure,” or AMI, which allows water departments to read meters more frequently and analyze how and when water is used.

“That was a hot topic in my circle,” said Mike Aragon, Denver Water’s manager of Customer Service Field. “You can share that information with customers, so they can reduce their usage by identifying how and when they consume water.”

Denver Water ran a pilot test with one version of the AMI technology last year and is continuing with another pilot program this year. Once Denver Water finds the right technology solution in this field, it’s quite likely that Denver Water will implement an AMI program in the future.

Then it rained. Ironically enough, it actually rained intermittently during the final days of the conference. A little rain certainly isn’t enough to “fix the drought,” as our friendly parking attendant put it, just as our recent heavy rains in Denver shouldn’t deter us from using water wisely.

California has a long road ahead, and it’s an important reminder to Coloradans that drought can strike at any time — and in the most severe terms.

Infographic: The spigot in the sky

The spigot in the sky

Mother Nature’s reminder that when it comes to water, only she can make this stuff

By Denver Water staff

You will be hard-pressed to find a state with a wider variety of weather than Colorado. Here’s our infographic on how the recent rains serve as a not-so-gentle reminder that when it comes to water, Mother Nature is the only power that can make this stuff:

Denver-Water-Saving-Water-Infographic-web

Father’s Day the water way

Father’s Day the water way

A few ways our favorite natural resource may be part of dear old dad’s special day

By Steve Snyder

Wooden boards backgroundWe have lots of fathers here at Denver Water, so as we look forward to Father’s Day this weekend, we started thinking about all the ways Dad might be interacting with water on Sunday. (Hey, we’re a water provider. What do you expect us to think about?!)

Consider this a random list of musings dedicated to Dad’s day in the spotlight and his enjoyment of water-related activities and items.

  • Fishing is the first thing that comes to mind. What’s more traditional than a dad going fishing with his kids on Father’s Day? You might have heard we’re dealing with a lot of water right now. Just a quick heads up to check before you hit your favorite fishing hole this weekend. Even if the sun’s out, the high, fast-flowing rivers are expected to remain for a while, so stay safe out there!
  • Golf can involve water, too, though it’s not nearly as enjoyable as fishing in it. If Dad mentions anything about water and his golf game Sunday, you should probably change the subject.
  • Perhaps you could change the subject to beer. Dad might appreciate that. After all, beer consists of up to 95 percent water, and most brewers find Denver’s water to be well-suited for home-brewing operations. Some guy even tried the beer diet. (Please research this further before suggesting it to your dad.)
  • How about watermelon? What’s a barbeque with Pops on his special day without the ultimate summer cookout treat? Did you know watermelon is 92 percent water and 6 percent sugar? So if you notice your dad pigging out on beer and watermelon this Sunday, you might listen carefully to see if he starts squishing when he walks.

There are certainly other ways H2O might find its way into your father’s life this weekend. Feel free to share those water-related thoughts here. And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Enjoy your day, and if you’re like me and have kids who think they know everything, enjoy this video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

School’s out for summer

School’s out for summer

Our top picks for outdoor recreation spots your family will love

By Kim Unger

Denver Public Schools wrapped up the school year Friday, sending energetic children home for the summer. To help prevent your family from going stir-crazy this summer, we put together this list of our favorite local (and mostly free) recreational gems.

HighlineHigh Line Canal

Designated as a National Landmark Trail, the 66-mile-long canal offers opportunities for hiking, biking, jogging, light walks and horseback riding. The canal winds through many parks with picnic tables. You can pick up the “Guide to the High Line Canal Trail” at select local bookstores or their online sites, or you can access our online map.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterton CanyonWaterton_Canyon_Strontia

A short drive past Chatfield Reservoir you will find the trailhead for Waterton Canyon. The canyon offers a 6.5-mile hike to Strontia Springs Dam. It also connects to the Colorado Trail, which continues above the reservoir and all the way down to Durango. This is a great area to get the family out for fishing, bicycling, horseback riding and picnicking. Keep your eyes out for wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer and more than 40 species of birds. For the protection of the bighorn sheep, dogs are not allowed in the canyon, so leave your furry friends at home for this one.

 

 

dillonDillon Reservoir

Just west of the Eisenhower Tunnel sits the Town of Dillon, home to Dillon Reservoir, which is overflowing with recreational opportunities. You can hop in a canoe, kayak, sailboat or motorboat and enjoy water activities on the reservoir. If you don’t own a boat, the Dillon and Frisco marinas offer rentals. Fishing is allowed in the reservoir and the Blue River, and enthusiasts can catch arctic char. Dillon includes 344 campsites, and there are trails for hiking and bicycling. Throw in a few rounds of disc golf at the Lake Dillon course for a great way to enjoy the beauty of Summit County in a day, or even a weekend.

 

 

Williams Fork ReservoirWilliams_Fork_camper

Disconnect from electronic distractions and reconnect with nature. Williams Fork Reservoir is just the place to slow down and take in the beauty of Colorado. Free camping is available for tents, trailers and RVs on a first-come, first-served basis. Enjoy boating, kayaking, fishing and hiking by day; campfire songs and stargazing at night.

 

 

 

 

No matter what level of activity your family enjoys, these locations — and others within our watershed — will provide a summer full of outdoor fun.

What Legos, Post-it notes and yarn have to do with the value of water

What Legos, Post-it notes and yarn have to do with the value of water

Recycled aluminum cans make up this water drop to illustrate the point, "You can't make this stuff, so please use only what you need."

Recycled aluminum cans make up this water drop to say, “You can’t make this stuff, so please use only what you need.”

You can’t make this stuff, so please use only what you need.

By Jessica Mahaffey

Coloradans really do get it: Water is a scarce resource in the West — and in the world.

They get it even if they don’t know the numbers, which are pretty staggering: While 70 percent of the earth is water, less than 4 percent is fresh water. And less than 1 percent of all the world’s fresh water is available to complete the journey of water for use in our communities.

We can’t make more of this critical, natural resource. But we can use it wisely.

Nine years ago, Denver Water committed to an ambitious conservation goal and began talking with our customers about the value of water through innovative conservation programs and campaigns urging people to Use Only What You Need. Like California today, we were a community on the tail end of a serious drought that had threatened the health of our cities, environment and water supply for future generations.

We didn’t know what the result would be, but our customers responded in ways that exceeded anyone’s expectations. Denver Water customers have become leaders in creating a culture of water conservation in our dry Western climate. We still face serious challenges, but we have a foundation of success to build upon.

 

This year, Denver Water is featuring 10 one-of-a-kind art installments to remind us that water’s presence in our world is the work of Mother Nature.

Displayed in bus shelters across our service area, each handcrafted work offers a beautiful representation of water, using wood, Legos, yarn, thread, molding clay, recycled aluminum cans, colored pencils and Post-it notes.

Much in the way we each experience art, our connection to water is personal, and so is this year’s call to action: You can’t make this stuff, so please use only what you need.

We invite you to check out the artwork installations, on display through Aug. 30, which you can find on the interactive map in this virtual tour: http://arcg.is/1cM9pW5.

 

And if you’re so inclined, use the comment box below to tell us more about your own personal relationship with water and the ways you’re using it more efficiently.

 

Rapping about water, Part 2

Rapping about water, Part 2

Our letter to Jay Z drew a crowd, but the value of water is what’s worth discussing

By Denver Water staff

We never imagined that our open letter to Jay Z would attract that kind of coverage. It was meant to be a light-hearted story with a serious subject at its core — the value of water.

We don’t want that message to be lost, so we’re taking our own advice: We’re sticking to our own business, man. As water resource managers, we want people to understand our most precious — and valuable — resource.

This is not about whether Jay Z thinks water is free. In fact, we commend him for speaking out about the water crisis in other countries. We understood his reference to water and music. He was talking about the value of the very thing that provides his livelihood.

So were we.

Everywhere you look, water leads the news. From flooding to droughts, water affects our communities, our economy and our ecosystem. At Denver Water, our job is to manage this vital resource, whether we have too much or too little.

Today, our Cheesman and Strontia Spring reservoirs are full from the extremely wet spring (see video below). We’ve seen spilling like this before, but not in a decade or more.

In some spots there is more water than manageable, like Texas.  And yet California longs for more, suffering one of the worst droughts in its history — at least for now.

So whether you are Jay Z or Joe Blow, we all need to understand that water is a precious commodity indeed, and that we have to use every drop efficiently. After all, you can’t make this stuff.

And let’s not forget: Jay Z also said that water from the tap — clean, fresh water that we can use without worry — is a beautiful thing.

We agree. Let’s keep talking. Water is worth a broad discussion, and we intend to be a big part of it.

 

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