Voluntary Water Restrictions

By Lonnie Oversole, Salida Water Plant Manager

Water restrictions for the 2013 irrigation season will again be on a voluntary basis. Salidans are encouraged to follow the same restrictions that have been in place in past years: even address numbers water on even calendar days, odd address numbers water on odd calendar days. Also, the City recommends no watering between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m and no one watering on the 31st day of the month. Should you choose not to follow voluntary water restrictions, there will be no enforcement or penalty.

Keep in mind if you water during the heat of the day, you will lose 50% of the water you apply to evaporation, which is the reasoning behind not watering between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The even/odd day system has half the city watering on one day and the other half on the next day. This provides better water pressure for all customers and firefighting personnel.

The snow pack throughout Colorado is well below the normal average for this time of year; currently at 69% of average statewide. The Arkansas basin is currently at 65% of normal. In terms of snow totals, it would take an additional 6 feet of snow on average in Colorado to catch up to normal snowpack levels.  If the hot summer days yield little moisture in the form of afternoon showers, there is a good possibility that mandatory water restrictions could be implemented by summers end.

At their April 2 work session, city council decided to leave water restrictions voluntary with the ability to change to mandatory if conditions worsen. Water restrictions have been voluntary for the last two years. When comparing water totals to years prior when water restrictions were mandatory, there is little difference in water usage.

Buena Vista has implemented voluntary watering restrictions as well. Many Front Range towns and cities have instituted mandatory watering restrictions with Lafayette allowing no outdoor watering until April 16 and then after that only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. After May 1, the City of Louisville will limit watering to only two days a week with no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. In addition, the cities of Denver and Aurora have instituted similar mandatory restrictions, citing the worst drought in Colorado since 2002.

I would also like to take this opportunity to talk about routine bacteria sampling that occurs within the water distribution system. We are required, based on population, to take seven bacteria samples per month. The samples are taken at sites predetermined by a sampling plan. The plan contains twenty-one routine sampling sites with seven alternate sites. If for some reason the routine site is not accessible, then an alternate site is used. The sampling each month is spread throughout the system rather than being concentrated in a certain area. Each site by years end will have been tested four different times.

The water distribution system contains many miles of piping to get the treated water to our customers. Chlorine residual is maintained throughout the distribution system to assure a level of water quality. Chlorine levels are tested every time a bacteria sample is collected. Chlorine levels are also measured at every treatment point daily and at the surface water plant continuously. A predetermined site within the distribution system is also tested daily.

Another important aspect to good water quality is maintenance of the distribution or piping system. The key element is a good flushing program. This part of system maintenance is often mistaken by the public as a waste of water. Flushing rids the system of accumulated sediment and discolored water. Flushing also gets rid of old water or water that’s been in the system for periods longer than normal. This can occur in areas with lower usage or dead end lines. Getting old water out of the system reduces the potential associated with the formation of disinfection by products.

The city is currently flushing hydrants twice per year, in the spring prior to peak water usage, and again in fall when usage begins to drop off. Based on data recorded during flushing in past years, less water is being used to flush twice per year than was used when hydrants were flushed annually.

Due to the current conditions we will not be flushing this spring. Last month, several hydrants were flowed and data collected to create a water model for the distribution system. Once a working model is in place, one of the many benefits will be to fine-tune the City’s flushing program.