5 summertime water misperceptions exposed
Taking on tall tales surrounding water supply, rules and enforcement
By Travis Thompson
As the days grow longer, the community begins to stir like a bear out of hibernation. Spending more time outdoors means more neighborly chitchat with quips about the weather.
One common, often true statement is inevitably, “We sure could use the moisture!”
But there also are many misperceptions about Denver Water’s supply and summer watering voiced this time of year. It’s time to debunk these small-talk tales.
Fact 1: Denver’s water supply is in good shape heading into the summer.
Misperception: This means we don’t need to worry about water conservation and supply.
Reality: The Colorado River — source of half of Denver’s water supply — has been gripped with a decade-long drought, which has impacted our water supply as recently as 2012. This embodies why we’ve created a culture of conservation, not just during dry times, but also in years like this when we can maintain our supply and prepare for the next dry period. Every drop saved now is a drop available when the next dry spell returns.
Fact 2: Denver Water has a team of Water Savers out in the community each summer.
Misperception: This is a team of “water cops” out to issue fines.
Reality: Denver Water takes pride in being part of our community, and what better way to do this than face-to-face interaction? Our Water Savers are friendly, approachable and in the neighborhoods to communicate tips and tools, and respond if help is needed.
But Water Savers issue fines, right? Sure, if a customer continues to aimlessly waste water, fines are a possibility. However, fines are the last step and are rarely needed in this water-conscious city. In 2014, Water Savers met with more than 3,400 customers and never needed to issue a single fine.
Misperception: We sell water to California.
Reality: Just like the Mississippi River, the mighty Colorado River runs through more than just its namesake state. The headwaters of the Colorado River are in Colorado, but the river runs through six other states and into Mexico. The Colorado Division of Water Resources, Office of the State Engineer, administers all water rights in Colorado. For a quick and straightforward explanation on how water is divided among western states, read: Why you and your kids should care about the drought in California.
Fact 4: Denver Water promotes efficient landscape and irrigation practices.
Misperception: We hate grass and want everyone to rip out their lawns.
Reality: The goal of our conservation program is to help customers become as efficient as possible while preserving community values — like having a vibrant landscape. But not all landscape is created equal. For example, do you have unused grass on the side of your house or along a slope that is difficult to maintain? If so, those areas are opportunities to make water-saving landscape transformations. We’ve featured a Transforming Landscape series with ideas on how to convert unused or difficult-to-maintain areas of your grass to more water-efficient alternatives. But no matter what type of landscape you have, it’s vital not to waste water in maintaining it.
Fact 5: Denver Water expects all customers to use water as efficiently as possible.
Misperception: Denver Parks and Recreation doesn’t have to follow the rules.
Reality: Denver Parks and Recreation manages more than 5,000 acres of urban parkland, so Denver Water has partnered with them, along with other large irrigation customers, to create a water budget. Under the water budget program, we help them identify the amount of water their landscapes actually need, and they determine how and where to use that water. They must still abide by the same rules as residential customers, but they have more flexibility to manage their extensive system efficiently.
With more than 200 city parks used by the public on a daily basis, issues that cause water waste, like broken sprinkler heads, are bound to occur and may not be identified right away. We can all help by serving as an extra set of eyes. Call 3-1-1 to report issues in Denver parks.
Now, the next time your neighbor waves you over for some friendly small talk, you’ll have a little more to share than, “How’s the weather?”