Thornton City Council declared a Stage 1 Drought Watch at its May 22 meeting.
The city’s goal is to reduce water-customer demand by 10 percent by encouraging residents to follow voluntary water practices, such as only watering lawns early in the morning and in the evenings twice a week.
Although no metro cities have declared water restrictions, many have banded together to encourage residents to use water conservatively this summer after below-average snowfall this past winter.
The cities of Arvada, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster, as well as South Adams County Water and Sanitation, and the City and County of Broomfield issued a joint statement on June 11, asking residents to be mindful of their water usage.
“Most water suppliers in the North Metro area depend on mountain snowpack for a majority of their water,” the statement reads. “Below-average snowfall has meant less water for 2012 and possibly 2013. Plus, a warmer spring has jump-started the lawn-watering season, prompting higher water use.”
Stu Feinglas, water-resource analyst with Westminster, said this year’s weather pattern is similar to that in 2001, the year prior to the 2002 drought.
While every city may have individual issues with water supply, depending on their water rights, he said, “on a whole we’re all dealing with the same situation. We thought it would be better for our customers and citizens to get out the joint message.”
Feinglas said Westminster’s water supply this year is in good shape and the conservation message was about making sure the cities were in good shape for next year, too.
“We’re not against people using water when they need water,” he said. “We’re trying to minimize people using too much water when they don’t need water.”
The city analyzes several factors, he said, in order to determine if water restrictions are necessary, such as water supply, usage and weather.
“We hope that this frankly isn’t the first year of an extended drought, and that it’s a fluke of unusual dry weather,” said Thornton City Manager Jack Ethredge at the May council meeting. “But you never know. So, we should prepare as if this might in fact be a first year so that we’ll be in better shape the second year.”