If you’ve been following our weekly posts, you’ve seen our snowpack and precipitation graphs jump upward after the April and May snowfall. This is great news for our water supply, which had been abysmal since July 2011.
As you probably know by now, the snowpack above the diversion points in Denver Water’s watersheds ended up below the average peak at 91 percent in the Colorado River watershed and 92 percent in the South Platte River watershed. We’ve also stressed the importance of May and June weather as it will impact how much mountain snow will make its way into our reservoirs as water. The wetter the better!
So what’s new? Today at its meeting, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners voted to delay drought pricing by one month. Why? Depending on how much water makes its way to our reservoirs, we may be in a position to change our drought response from Stage 2 to Stage 1, which would remove drought pricing entirely. But, we won’t make that decision until we have a better sense of our reservoir situation and summer conditions after runoff is over in late June or early July.
The temporary drought pricing was scheduled to appear on bills beginning in June to encourage customers to use even less water and help reduce revenue loss to maintain our treatment and distribution system. We’ve seen customers use even less water, thanks to their savvy water-saving habits and letting Mother Nature take care of watering this spring. And, we believe that by delaying the pricing, the benefit to customers outweighs the revenue we may lose in June. The last thing we want to do is put drought pricing in place, just to remove it if we change direction.
While it’s too soon to move to Stage 1 drought restrictions, we will continue to closely monitor conditions and remain flexible in our response.