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Monday, March 1, 2021

City announces Drought Watch

Based on current water supply conditions, the City of Westminster declared a Drought Watch effective March 1 to increase awareness and encourage wise water use.

"We are taking the proactive step to encourage wise water use today to ensure water supplies are available for our customers' most critical needs in the future," said Public Works and Utilities Director Max Kirschbaum. "Our focus with the Drought Watch stage is to provide our customers the education and resources they need to reduce water usage throughout the summer. Drought Watch does not include mandatory restrictions."

As part of Drought Watch, the city is asking customers to make a pledge to reduce water use this year by watering their yard no more than three days a week, avoiding outdoor water use between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and checking for indoor leaks. The city also offers several free or discounted conservation programs.

Customers can make the pledge, sign up to receive drought status updates, find water-saving tips, and sign up for conservation programs at www.cityofwestminster.us/drought.

As part of its Drought Management Plane, the city monitors several factors that impact its water supply and initiate its drought response. In the Clear Creek watershed--the source of the city's drinking water--snowpack is below average and soil moisture is far below average. The city's share of water storage in Standley Lake is also below average. The entire state is currently experiencing an extreme drought and long-range forecasts are indicating warmer and drier-than-average weather for the remainder of the winter.

"There is still a lot of time left in the snow season and conditions could change," said Kirschbaum. "We will continue to watch the drought situation closely, but any water savings will reduce the strain on limited water supplies and potentially lessen the chance of moving to mandatory restrictions."

The city will also continue to make significant reductions in its own water use. The Parks, Recreation & Libraries Department recently converted over 20 acres of bluegrass to climate-appropriate grasses, saving an estimated 15 million gallons of water every year. Another 20 acres will be converted by 2023. The city recently installed a state-of-the-art central control irrigation system, saving about five to ten percent of the city's total water use. Irrigation systems citywide will be updated over the next three years to be more efficient, saving an additional 20 million gallons of water a year.

Although each utility and system are different, the city is in close contact with neighboring utilities and the Metro Drought Coordination Group (a group of water agencies that share insights into their respective drought responses). Many utilities in the region have similar concerns about this year's water supply and are making plans to promote wise water use.

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