Castle Rock — known for its water-conservation efforts — is working to build on that reputation. The town intends to run on 75 percent renewable water by 2050.
That means using less groundwater and drawing more from sources such as snow, …
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That means using less groundwater and drawing more from sources such as snow, rain, creeks and rivers.
But as it works toward that goal, the town must also be prepared to act if those renewable sources waver, said Director of Utilities Mark Marlowe.
“We have to get even more use to responding to changes in temperatures and weather,” Marlowe said.
That's why Castle Rock recently implemented new water restrictions on homeowners associations and urged residents to amp up their conservation efforts. Prolonged dry, hot weather has left one of the town's renewable sources, the East Plum Creek, at record lows.
The town has gathered data on the creek for 18 years, Marlowe said. The gauge on East Plum Creek nearest Castle Rock shows the area at its lowest level in that time frame.
The town also recorded water use at peak levels — although that is not uncommon during hot spells, Marlowe said.
Over the summer, Castle Rock typically sees an average use of 12.4 million gallons a day. This year, officials have seen that average reach 16.5 million gallons. Peak demand is usually related to outdoor irrigation, Marlowe said, such as the watering of lawns and landscaping.
In response, the town is now requiring homeowners associations to follow a similar watering schedule that has been required of single-family homes since the 1980s. Public spaces like parks, common areas and medians can only be watered between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Homeowners associations were also asked to cut back on issuing violations for distressed lawns and to encourage residents to reduce outdoor watering.
Marlowe said the efforts should save millions of gallons of water.
Additionally, residents and businesses can do their part by researching proper irrigation techniques, for which the town has a number of resources and classes.
And Marlowe has some advice at the ready.
First, he said, don't let water run to the point it pools in gutters or streets. That's an immediate indicator of overwatering.
“Why pay for it if you're going to put it down the drain,” Marlowe said.
He also recommends people know when to water, in addition to how much. Residential water restrictions in place through August only allow watering between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Karl Kaoch, district manager with the Founders Village Metropolitan District, who's worked in that role for 31 years and spent a previous 10 years as utilities director for Breckenridge and Louiseville, said people should be mindful that they live in an arid climate.
“When it gets really, really hot like this, sometimes people start panic watering,” he said.
Kaoch explained residents needn't worry if grass doesn't stay perfectly green in dry times, as going temporarily dormant can actually help strengthen new root systems. Conservation is most important, Kaoch said, expressing the district's willingness to work with town staff under the new water restrictions.
For residents who want to learn more about proper irrigation and water conservation, the town offers numerous resources through the website crconserve.com. The town also runs classes for people to learn efficient watering and conservation techniques.
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