Exceptional drought conditions in Mesa County have prompted Ute Water Conservancy District (District) to begin utilizing secondary water sources from the Colorado River to preserve water stored in the District’s terminal reservoirs, Jerry Creek No. 1 and No. 2. Water from the Colorado River will be blended with water from these reservoirs to preserve water quality and to slow the draw-down of the reservoirs.
This is the first time since the District’s inception 65 years ago that water from the Colorado River has been utilized to supplement demand due to drought conditions.
Drought Pumping Rate
During their June 9th board meeting, Ute Water's Board of Directors unanimously voted to begin pumping water from the Colorado River to maintain the levels in the Jerry Creek Reservoirs, the District's terminal reservoirs and preferred watershed. Ute Water started blending water from the Jerry Creeks with flows from the Colorado River on June 10th. The purpose of blending is to preserve water quality.
Ute Water’s Board of Directors also unanimously voted to add a 2% Drought Pumping Rate to District customer’s monthly water bills, effective July 1st, 2021, to offset the operational costs associated with pumping water from the Colorado River. The Drought Pumping Rate was set as a percentage of a customer’s overall bill to further promote water conservation.
“The 2% Drought Pumping Rate is a result of the increased costs that occur when the District pumps from the Colorado River,” says Larry Clever, General Manager. “These costs include increased use in electricity, increased costs in chemicals to treat Colorado River water, as well as maintenance costs from using our pump stations.”
The 2% Drought Pumping Rate will remain on customer’s bills until the District has recouped pumping costs and is no longer pumping from the Colorado River, which is currently unknown. For customers using the minimum of 3,000 gallons per month, the Drought Pumping Rate will add 44-cents to their monthly bill. As customers use more water, the Drought Pumping Rate will be more significant because it is a percentage of monthly consumption.
Water Quality Impacts
Along with the increased costs due to pumping, customers can also expect a change in water quality, specifically water hardness. Ute Water takes great pride in providing the highest-quality water to our customers, and drawing from secondary sources, especially the Colorado River, will create noticeable changes in water quality.
“Through the utilization of secondary sources, such as the Colorado River, we are expecting an increase of calcium carbonate scale, which customers recognize as water spots on their dishes or build-up on their swamp cooler pads,” says Dave Payne, Assistant Manager.
Customers can add vinegar an other products to dishwashers to reduce spots on dishes. There are also products available to help mitigate the build-up on evaporative cooler pads.
Water Quality Dashboard
Customers can now view the District's Water Quality Dashboard by visiting utewater.org/ourwater to learn more about the District's water quality. The dashboard will be updated weekly information is reflective of the previous week's water quality.
The "Our Water" webpage also includes frequently asked questions addressing the District's water quality.
As drought becomes more persistent and evident in our community, Ute Water is asking each of our customers to do their part in water conservation. This is the time to re-evaluate the water consumption used. Drought is an issue that impacts our entire community, and each community member is asked to be responsible stewards of our water.
More information on water conservation and a suggested outdoor watering schedule at dripinfo.com.
Customers are always encouraged to contact the District at (970) 242-7491 with any questions.