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Drought forces mandatory watering restrictions beginning April 1

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DENVER -- Even though Denver has received almost two feet of snow during the month of March, it's just not enough to turn around the drought.

For the first time in about 11 years, most people in the Denver metro area will face mandatory water restrictions.

Wednesday, Denver Water announced that we're in a stage two drought. That means all Denver Water customers will go on a mandatory 2-day per week watering schedule beginning Monday in order to conserve water.

“The last time we declared a stage two drought was in 2002,” said Greg Austin, president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners.

The restrictions will affect 1.3 million water users in six counties.

“We are facing a more serious drought now than we faced then. Our goal this summer is to insure the availability of high-quality water to our citizens, given current conditions and an unknowable end to the drought cycle, protecting not only the quality of life of our community but also the long-term security of our city’s system," Austin said.

Jim Lochhead, the CEO and manager of Denver Water said, "We would need about 7 feet of additional snow in the mountains by late April to get us close to where we should be." Those under the water restrictions will need to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

For many residents, it won't be easy.

"If I skip a couple of days with rose bushes they go brown and start dying," said Deirdre Shattuck who lives in Wash Park.

"Last year, we shattered the record for 90-degree days. Denver Water’s reservoirs have not been full since July 2011. We haven't had much snow in the past two years. All factors play into this decision," said Denver Water spokesperson Stacy Chesney.

Mandatory watering restrictions start on April 1. Denver Water customers may only water two days a week and must follow the following schedule:

  • Single-family residential properties with addresses ending in even numbers: Sunday, Thursday
  • Single-family residential properties with addresses ending in odd numbers: Saturday, Wednesday
  • All other properties (multi-family, HOAs, commercial, industrial, government): Tuesday, Friday

In addition, customers must follow the standard annual watering rules:

  • Do not water lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Do not waste water by allowing it to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
  • Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt.
  • Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
  • Do not water while it is raining or during high winds.

As part of the stage two drought declaration, the board also adopted a temporary drought pricing structure to encourage customers to use even less water and help reduce revenue loss.

Those who use more than the average use of 6,000 gallons a month will have to pay extra.

The pricing schedule will be based on the following guidelines:

  • 0-6,000 Gallons:                  $0
  • 7,000 11,000 Gallons:         $0.30 (per 1,000 gallons)
  • 12,000-30,000 Gallons:      $0.60 (per 1,000 gallons)
  • 30,000-40,000 Gallons:      $0.90 (per 1,000 gallons)
  • Over 40,000 Gallons:         $1.20 (per 1,000 gallons)

Customers who receive repeated watering notices will be subject to stage two drought fines, which start at $250 for single-family residences who have previously received a written warning.

Find more information about watering restrictions at denverwater.org.

Related: Scientists say Colorado in worst drought since 1950s

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