Water district preaches prudent use

Extra restrictions on hold in Highlands Ranch

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While Centennial Water and Sanitation District has already switched to its summer watering budget, the district is encouraging Highlands Ranch residents not to start watering their lawns until May and to be prudent in doing so.

“We want people to delay their watering as long as they can,” said Jon Klassen, water conservation coordinator for the district.  “People may think it’s dry outside, but if you put a shovel in the ground you’re probably going to find soil moisture 4 to 6 inches down. Plants will find that, and it will help promote deeper root growth.”

Centennial is one of the few area water districts that does not have additional restrictions in place heading into what is expected to be potentially the biggest drought year since 2002, but that doesn’t mean those restrictions couldn’t come.

“We have restrictions ready on the back burner, and if we have to bring them to the front burner, we can exercise that discretion,” said General Manager John Hendrick. “At this time we are really emphasizing the conservation message. You don’t want to be Chicken Little, but you do want to be prudent. We are in a drought.”

The drought of 2002 moved Centennial to take a hard look at its water situation, and in 2003 the district set in place its annual water budget, which is still being used. It’s because of those annual restrictions that additional ones aren’t needed at this time.

“It is looking almost exactly like 2002 this year, the only difference being that this year is the second consecutive year of drought,” said Swithin Dick, Centennial’s water resources engineer.

Dick said snowpack is at 72 percent of normal, and with the reservoirs empty by the end of last year, Centennial made plans to pump extra ground water this spring. The district put up two wells in Highlands Ranch in early March, tapping into the 1.7 billion acre-feet supply of groundwater underneath the community.

“Highlands Ranch really benefits from being a planned community,” said Centennial spokeswoman Sherry Eppers. “Part of that plan was having the surface water supply that we do. And in years like this, we have the ability to pump groundwater.”

Eppers says it is important that residents be as efficient as possible, and added that there are numerous tips and short videos available at www.centennialwater.org.

“Our customers have done a great job, being efficient with water use on a regular basis and staying at or under water budget,” Klassen said. “We need them to understand that with the dry conditions, (lawns) may not be able to be as green as we want. It’s normal for the turf to experience a level of brown at mid-summer.”

Klassen is working with the Highlands Ranch Community Association on the covenants to ensure that it will be acceptable for residents to have some brown in their lawns, and said those talks are going well.

To sign up for Centennial’s water conservation e-newsletter, send an email to info@highlandsranch.org