For the last five years, the entire state of Colorado has been classified as experiencing some degree of drought, making water conservation a bigger priority than ever, according to the website, http://cwcb.state.co.us.
The Falcon area is serviced by a number of water districts: Falcon Highlands Metropolitan District; Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District; Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District; and Paintbrush Hills Metropolitan District, said Sean Chambers, general manager for the Cherokee Metropolitan Water District. Each district has their own rules and regulations, especially as they pertain to watering restrictions during dry weather times, he said.
“Back in 1999, Cherokee Metro sold 350-acre-feet of water to Woodmen Hills Metro,” Chambers said. “We have an obligation to deliver that annually. What we don’t have is any authority to tell them how, when and where to use that water. That lack of authority extends to watering restrictions.”
Chambers said Cherokee Metro also sells water to Meridian Ranch, and both transactions are considered trade exchange lease agreements. “The Falcon area is inside the Upper Black Squirrel Basin,” he said. “Cherokee is outside it. Both Meridian and Woodmen Hills own portions of Guthrie water. We take a portion of the Guthrie water and give them back that same amount plus extra from the Upper Black Squirrel Basin.
“It’s really a wholesale provision of a quantity of water. There is no ability on our part to mandate restrictions for the water we give them. Likewise, I don’t have any requirements from them about how we use the Guthrie water I trade them for.”
Because the metro districts in the area are not serviced through Colorado Springs Utilities but directly from the Denver-Dawson, Laramie-Fox Hills and Arapahoe aquifers, they don’t have to follow the restrictions that CSU initiates, said Ken Griffin, board president of the Paintbrush Hills district. “We are on voluntary restrictions now,” he said. “We have never had mandatory restrictions, but we try to follow CSU a little bit. We recommend before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m.”
“Each individual district has their own set of unique circumstances,” said Wayne Monson, manager for the Meridian Ranch district. “We wouldn’t put different restrictions on commercial versus residential customers. In our area, most of the public areas like the parks and green belts are owned by the district. The district determines how to water those areas and is interested in using water wisely, but restrictions aren’t imposed on them by any state agencies.”
David Peak, district manager for the Falcon Highlands district, said there is no difference between the restrictions placed on commercial areas compared to residential areas in his district, either.
With 707 residences getting their water from PBHMD, Griffin said the district has had to tweak their recommended watering schedule to make sure everyone isn’t watering on the same day. Monson said his district has had to do the same.
“In communities with a lot of open-space ground they have to water on a little different schedule than they allow the residents,” Monson said. “There’s not enough time during the designated times to water all the parks at the same time. We wouldn’t have enough water to do that, so sometimes they have to water outside the specific times that residents have to follow.”
Monson said golf courses like the Antler’s Creek Golf Course in Meridian Ranch don’t use treated water to serve their sprinkler or irrigation systems, so they aren’t limited to the same restrictions but are careful not to overwater.
“The reality is that restrictions are put on for different reasons,” Monson said. “Sometimes it has to do with the amount of water rights the district has, or not overloading their infrastructure so they stay within their ability to treat and serve their customers. Just like with your lawn, you don’t have all the (sprinkler head) stations on at one time because you wouldn’t have enough water pressure to handle it. Your lawn system has six stations; we have 5,000.”