Below normal snowpack and continuing drought conditions has led to the Centennial Water and Sanitation District service area to be in a moderate drought status.
With the goal to reduce outdoor water use by 15 to 20%, the Highlands Ranch Metro District and Mirabelle Metro District must follow the stage one drought restrictions.
As of May 4 , the U.S Drought Monitor shows the Centennial Water and Sanitation District is in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.
“Pretty much the whole area has been in moderate drought and that’s due to the higher temperatures over the past year and really lack of precepts from 2020 through 2022,” said Swithin Dick, water rights administrator for the Centennial Water and Sanitation District. “It's cumulative.”
Centennial water derives most of its water supply from the South Platte Basin, specifically the Upper South Basin. Drought restrictions are determined based on how much water is in the snow from the high country over the winter. The district takes the water out from Chatfield.
According to the National Resources Conservation Service, from Oct. 1, 2022 to April 19, 2023, Snowpack Telemetry sites in the Upper South Platte Basin reported snowpack levels at 79% of normal, compared to 81% at the same time last year.
The Centennial Water and Sanitation service areas have been in a stage one restriction since last July. Stage one restrictions limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week.
Residential customers with odd-numbered addresses can water on Sunday and Wednesday while even-numbered addresses can on Saturday and Tuesday. Multi-family and apartment properties can water on Monday and Thursday and nonresidential customers on Tuesday and Friday.
Existing water conservation rules are still in effect and can be found on the Centennial Water website.
From May 1 through Sept. 30, there is no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., operation of an irrigation system for maintenance and drip-irrigation is allowed at any time, and if a hose is held and equipped with a shut-off device, hand watering trees and car washing is allowed.
The website also includes a chart to help determine how long to water the lawn based on the month.
The district focuses more on outreach and education. Therefore, if they hear someone is watering on a day of the week they shouldn’t be, staff will go out to those customers and work with them to help understand why the area is in a drought restriction, according to Kerry Larse, communications manager for the Centennial Water and Sanitation District.
“If that’s not productive, we do have the ability and the willingness to cite them, which results in fines to their water bills,” said Dick.
The district also hires three seasonal water monitors in the summer to patrol the neighborhoods for instances of water waste.
To help customers become more water efficient with outdoor irrigation practices, one of the district’s rebates and incentives is No Mow May.
Although No Mow May is a conservation campaign that encourages grass growth in order for early spring flowers to bloom and supports pollinators in a time when food resources are scarce in urban environments, there are also water conservation benefits.
“We like this from a water conservation perspective because longer grass doesn’t require as much water and when you let your grass grow longer, it develops a stronger root system and that also makes it more drought tolerant,” said Paige McFarland, water conservation specialist for the Centennial Water and Sanitation District.