The Town of Crawford is experiencing a reduction in water storage levels. Bruce Bair, public works director, at last week's council meeting said he made the decision to shut off the water dispenser used by out-of-town residents.
Bair asked Jackie Savage, town clerk, to put a notice on utility bills that demand for water is up, but supply is not what he would like. "Supply is good, but not as great as some years. This time of year is normally a lower flow. The springs pick up later in the summer towards July, August," Bair said. "I've been keeping an eye on it for two to three weeks. It started probably in early May."
Bair told the Department of Interior that town water from the dispenser would not be available for their use on Black Canyon Road. They haul 7,000 gallons a couple of times a day. "So, I cut them off. They have to go elsewhere," he said.
"We are not in a crisis. We are in a caution, beware, take care of what you've got," Bair said. Within a week the town's water tank had dropped from 20 to less than 14 feet from water usage. Until the town tank recovers, the dispenser will be shut off. As of the June 6 council meeting the water storage tank was back up to 19 feet. A second 24-foot tank is staying between 17 and 20 feet.
Savage gave the council members a chart of "Exceptional Usage." It showed that in the last 12 months, Crawford water users averaged 2,285,450 gallons a month. In May of 2001 they used 2,023,640 gallons and 2,098,920 gallons this past April. For May 2012 the amount jumped to 3,747,840 gallons.
Bair said Pioneer Park is not as green as it usually is because public works only waters two days a week now instead of every other day.
Bair said there are several options for the situation — let the users know the water situation, put restrictions on water use, or change how much water is included in the base rate. He suggested the base rate include 10,000 gallons, not the current 20,000.
Rural customers with a $22.50 base rate would pay $2 per 1,000 gallons for using 10,000 to 15,000 gallons, $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for 15,000 to 20,000 gallons, $3 per 1,000 gallons for 20,000 to 25,000 gallons and $4 per 1,000 gallons for $25,000 and more gallons.
He proposed that residential and commercial customers be charged $1 per 1,000 gallons for 10,000 to 15,000 gallons, $1.50 per 1,000 gallons for 15,000 to 20,000 gallons, $2 per 1,000 gallons for 20,000 to 25,000 gallons and $3 per 1,000 gallons for 25,000 gallons and more.
By ordinance, the Town of Crawford reserves first priority to the use of its municipal water system for those located within the town limits and the right to shut off service to rural areas for the protection of the town and its residents.
Public works is going through the water system to find out why 20 percent of the water is "unaccounted for." Bair said it is normal for there to be 10 to 20 percent unaccounted for due to leaks. Valves and hydrants are being checked. Bair said the town is doing its part in trying to locate leaks. He is also checking usage and meters at Crawford State Park.
Bair said it would be hard to enforce watering restrictions which is why he is suggesting to cut the number of gallons of water included in the base rate and charge more for usage above the initial 10,000 gallons. He added that 10,000 gallons would be a normal amount for a family of four, but probably not enough if "you want a big green yard."
Former mayor Jim Crook said Crawford has always had an abundance of water. He acknowledged that right now there is a crisis because of low snow pack, but the town's springs are normally at their lowest point in the spring. The springs could pick up, Crook said. "As a citizen of Crawford and as a taxpayer, I live in this municipality because of the amenities I have — water and sewer." He said if it means the difference in people eating and taking showers, he will let his landscape dry up, but he doesn't believe the council should decide he can't have a landscaped yard and penalize him through higher rates.
Crook is a master gardener and co-owner of Bee Yard Gardens. He said people need to water deep and infrequently if water is to be rationed. Put on an adequate amount of water and then water again in seven to nine days. Grass can be stressed but will come back when watered. However, trees and shrubs must be watered or they won't come back. For new plants in a vegetable garden, until the roots get established, people should water everyday for a few days and then back off watering. Roots are seeking oxygen, not water, Crook said.
Crook is opposed to raising the usage rates. He formerly believed domestic use of water meant household use only. But he found out that the State of Colorado says domestic use of water includes watering your landscape and vegetable garden.
"We pay the taxes in this town. We live in this town. We should have the water rights before outside users have it," Crook said.
An out-of-town water user John Martindale said he understood why the dispenser is shut off, but he doesn't like to see people in town leaving their sprinklers on all day while at work. "People who have to go many miles for their water are going to become irritated with that," he said.
When the council has its work session on Wednesday, June 20, at 7 p.m., they will discuss the water situation, water conservation, potential restrictions and usage rates.blog comments powered by Disqus