Archive for March, 2014

Learn how to find & fix leaks in your irrigation system for Fix a Leak Week

March 17–23, 2014

March 17–23, 2014

From water utilities to irrigation companies across the nation, word is spreading fast about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Fix a Leak Week.

Denver Water encourages leak prevention and repair all year long, and we have an extensive conservation program filled with tips and tools to help customers cut out leaks in their homes and businesses. This important week serves as a great reminder to use these resources and learn how to look for hidden problems to avoid costly and wasteful water leaks.

With irrigation season right around the corner, we want to focus this week on a trend we are noticing during our high-bill audits. After a winter filled with fluctuating weather, leaks on irrigation systems are the main culprit for these high bills.

So, print up these tips and tape them to your irrigation controller as a reminder to check for leaks in your system when the irrigation season begins later this spring.

1)      Backflow device – Visually inspect the device for cracks before turning it on. Once your system is hooked up and ready to go, watch for drips from the valves or pipe connections.

2)      Zones – Turn on each zone, one at a time, and look for broken heads. Make sure all heads are adjusted so they are not spraying impervious areas.

3)      Valve box – After turning on each zone, open all valve boxes to ensure they are dry inside. If not, identify and replace leaking valve(s).

4)      Pipes – Walk the landscape twice. Once when the weather is dry and the sprinklers have not run for at least one day, and again after running a complete cycle of the irrigation system. Look for exceptionally wet or soggy areas in your yard. This could be a sign of a broken sprinkler head or an underground pipe leaking in that spot.

5)      Repeat – Continue to check your irrigation system throughout the season (at least once a month) to catch leaks before they affect your water bill.

A great way to identify a water leak is by monitoring your water bill. Compare the water usage with the same month from the previous year (there is a yearlong water use chart on Denver Water bills), and look for an unusually high month. Or, download a graph displaying your water consumption history over a specified period of time with Denver Water’s personalized water use graph, and look for unusual spikes in water use. If you are unable to identify a leak, submit a request for a free water audit of your property here.

Check out more tips and tools being shared for 2014 Fix A Leak Week:

Breakthrough water agreement benefits cities and rivers

Water management is never easy. And in Colorado, where the resource is scarce, everyone’s interest is valuable, and needs are often widely divergent.

Last year, Denver Water and Trout Unlimited came together to pen a guest editorial for The Denver Post, Together, we can meet Colorado River challenges, acknowledging the fact that there are differences over how to best use water to meet our diverse needs. But, more important, the editorial highlighted the fact that smart water planning and cooperation are the only way to meet the future water needs of all interests along the Colorado River.

Less than a year later, Denver Water and Trout Unlimited have come together again, this time with Grand County, to reveal an agreement that balances municipal needs and environmental health. And, just like the recently finalized Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, this partnership demonstrates the benefits of working together to protect our shared interests in a healthy river. 

Below is the news release that the three parties sent out regarding the agreement, which also was highlighted in a recent Denver Post column, Plan for Fraser River is a good one.

Fishing on the Fraser River.

The deal, years in the making, provides water management and project funds to benefit Fraser River habitat and trout populations.

Denver Water, Trout Unlimited, Grand County reach agreement on river protections for Moffat Project

March 04, 2014 – Denver Water, Trout Unlimited and Grand County today announced agreement on a package of river protections designed to keep the Fraser River and its trout populations healthy.

The Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan brings to a close several years of discussions over the proposed Moffat Collection System Project and its potential impacts on the Fraser River. All sides hailed the stakeholder agreement as a breakthrough that balances municipal needs and environmental health.

Trout Unlimited called the agreement “a victory for the river.”

“This package of protections and enhancements, if adopted in the final permit, gives us the best opportunity to keep the Fraser River and its outstanding trout fishery healthy far into the future,” said Mely Whiting, counsel for Trout Unlimited. “This pragmatic agreement underscores the value of a collaborative approach to water planning — one that recognizes the value of healthy rivers. It shows that, working together, we can meet our water needs while protecting our fisheries and outdoor quality of life.”

“In an effort to move past a disagreement on impacts from the Moffat Project, Grand County reached out to Denver Water and Trout Unlimited to propose additional environmental mitigations,” said Lurline Curran, Grand County manager. “To all parties’ credit, this effort has succeeded.”

“The Fraser is a river beloved by generations of anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts —it’s the lifeblood of our community,” said Kirk Klancke, president of TU’s Colorado River Headwaters chapter in Fraser and a longtime advocate for the river. “As an angler and Fraser Valley resident, I’m gratified that this agreement keeps our home waters healthy and flowing.”

The plan includes environmental enhancements and protections to ensure the Fraser River will be better off with the Moffat Project than without it.

The plan includes environmental enhancements and protections to ensure the Fraser River will be better off with the Moffat Project than without it.

The package includes environmental enhancements and protections to ensure the Fraser River will be better off with the Moffat Project than without it, said Denver Water. The Moffat Project will improve the reliability of Denver Water’s system, which serves 1.3 million people in the Denver-metro area. 

The centerpiece of the agreement is Learning by Doing, a monitoring and adaptive management program overseen by a management team that includes Denver Water, Grand County, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado River District and the Middle Park Water Conservancy District. Upon the project permit being issued, the management team will implement an extensive monitoring program to assess stream health based on specific parameters including stream temperature, aquatic life and riparian vegetation health. Water, financial and other resources committed by Denver Water through project mitigation, the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement and other agreements will be deployed to prevent declines and improve conditions where needed.

Learning by Doing is a unique and groundbreaking effort to manage an aquatic environment on a permanent, cooperative basis. Notably, the program will not seek a culprit for changes in the condition of the stream, but will provide a mechanism to identify issues of concern and focus available resources to address those issues. Mitigation measures to prevent impacts of the Moffat Project on stream temperature and aquatic habitat will also be implemented through Learning by Doing. 

“Like the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, this plan represents a new, collaborative way of doing business together when dealing with complex water issues,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “Since the beginning of our planning for the Moffat Project, we set out to do the right thing for the environment, and we believe coming together with Trout Unlimited and Grand County on the Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan demonstrates a monumental step in making the river better. It’s satisfying that after more than 10 years of study and discussion, Trout Unlimited and Grand County have stayed at the table with us in good faith.”

Denver Water, Grand County and Trout Unlimited have submitted the Grand County Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan to federal and state agencies charged with permitting the Moffat Project and have requested that it be made part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit. 

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Moffat Project is expected by the end of April, and a final permitting decision by the Army Corps of Engineers is expected in early 2015.

For more information about the Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan, see the full agreement here.

Apply lessons from physicist to save water in your yard

Walter A. Shewhart first discussed the concept of PDCA in his 1939 book, Statistical Method From the Viewpoint of Quality Control.

Walter A. Shewhart first discussed the concept of the plan-do-check-act cycle in his 1939 book, Statistical Method From the Viewpoint of Quality Control.

Walter A. Shewhart, 1930s physicist known as the father of statistical quality control, is about to help you transform your landscape into a water-efficient oasis.

Unfortunately, he isn’t going to show up at your door with shovel and seeds in hand, but he did come up with a model, called the plan-do-check-act cycle, that can be used as a process to ensure continual landscape improvement year after year.

Here’s how:

Plan – Since November, we’ve featured a Transforming Landscape series to help you plan an upgrade for your lawn. Peruse through these posts for ideas to improve areas of your lawn that are unused or are difficult to maintain.

Do – Pick one section of your lawn that needs an upgrade and make the transformation from turf to a water-efficient option.

If the posts above inspire you to explore designing your own xeric garden this spring, you’re in luck. Right now, through a partnership with Center for ReSource Conservation, we’re offering Garden-In-A-Box kits for customers at a discounted rate.

All proceeds from garden and plant purchases directly support the Center for ReSource Conservation, a nonprofit organization.

All proceeds from garden and plant purchases directly support the Center for ReSource Conservation, a nonprofit organization.

Garden-In-A-Box simplifies water-wise gardening by providing professional plant-by-number designs and a selection of colorful low-water-use plants that adapt well to our dry Colorado climate.

Check – This summer, take the time to determine if this was the right upgrade for you. Are you saving water? Is this the look you want throughout the rest of your landscape? Can this new look be integrated into a larger upgrade with other types of water-efficient solutions?

Act – After analyzing the pros and cons of your first transformation, you are ready to start the cycle over again. Use lessons learned from your experiences this summer to begin the planning process again next fall and winter.

There are always opportunities to make your landscape more water efficient while maintaining its character and usability. But, this transformation doesn’t need to occur all at once. By using the Shewhart model, you can make upgrades every year to make sure you are always doing your part to conserve.

If you are going to buy a Garden-In-A-Box this year, don’t wait — there are a limited number of discounted gardens available. This Denver Water discount offer is limited to no more than three gardens per customer. Order now, and gardens will be available for pickup in May and June at locations throughout the metro area during scheduled days and times.  

For more information, or to buy your discounted Garden-In-A-Box, visit http://www.gardeninaboxco.org or call 303-999-3820, ext. 222.

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