Fort Collins water managers say too much conservation harmful

Drought hits Colorado farmers hard. LaSalle, Colo. July 3, 2012

A drought has been hitting Colorado hard in 2012. But it may hit trees in Fort Collins even harder if homeowners drastically curtail the watering of their lawns.

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LOVELAND, Colo. — Following a severe drought, conserving water will be an important charge for Coloradans this year. But if concerned citizens in Fort Collins take that charge too seriously, it could mean death to many of the city’s trees.

That’s what water experts told business owners at the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance’s Regional Issues Summit in Loveland Wednesday. 

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District General Manager Eric Wilkinson told the group that water conservation efforts, including reducing lawn watering, won’t be enough to ensure there’s enough water for everyone in Colorado.

Furthermore, Wilkinson said, if everyone in Fort Collins were to dramatically decrease the amount of water they provide their lawns, they would be jeopardizing the city’s tree canopy.

“Deep percolation of lawn water keeps trees alive,” Wilkinson said.

Though it could take a decade or more for some trees to die, Fort Collins City Forester Tim Buchanan confirmed to the Coloradoan that curtailing lawn watering drastically would add great stress to many trees.

Instead, Wilkinson said, the city needs a delicate balance of water conservation, redistribution of city water and the addition of new reservoirs to deal with the water issues in the region.

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