In light of predictions the Colorado population will double over the next 40 years, people who use and manage water are working to ensure there’ll be enough of the “liquid gold” to go around. Everyone in the state — and in the West, for that matter — will feel the effects of such efforts.
Those efforts are already well under way, with conservation touted as an important part of a plan that also includes increased water storage and water recycling.
The City of Grand Junction responded to a Colorado drought by developing the Drought Response Information Project (DRIP) in 2005.
“It was in response to a tough summer where irrigators were afraid they were going to run low on water,” said Kristin Winn, public information coordinator for the public works and planning department.
Many users on the city water system have no access to irrigation water. Consequently, they use treated domestic water to grow grass and other plants. Treated water is more costly and in shorter supply than irrigation water diverted directly from rivers.
The public campaign continues to be most visible during the heat of the summer, when water use peaks due to irrigation. But the city has expanded the campaign to include most of the year.
The city recommends several ways to reduce water consumption:
Water lawns between 10 p.m. and and 6 a.m. Watering during daytime hours results in loss of moisture through evaporation.
Retrofit toilets to meet low-flow standards.
Locate and repair leaks in pipes.
Xeriscape or zeroscape by planting desert vegetation that uses minimal water or installing more rock and gravel in landscaping.
The city is leading by example. Irrigation systems are connected to a computer system that measures evaporation and activates sprinklers only when they’re needed. The effort began with the opening of Canyon View Park in the mid-1990s and includes landscaping along the Riverside Parkway that opened in 2008.
The city also altered its landscape requirements for businesses, reducing the amount of plants needed to create buffers.
Mesa County also has revised its development code to encourage water conservation and the county has launched its own conservation awareness campaign.