WaterNow Alliance and Western Resource Advocates (WRA) are partnered with the Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA), a consortium of the local governments in the Roaring Fork Watershed (RFW), to support their goal, identified in their Regional Water Efficiency Plan, to develop unified outdoor watering standards. The goal of this project was to help ensure an adequate water supply for future generations and enhance the environmental, recreational, and agricultural values unique to the watershed.
Facing decades of drought, limited upstream water storage, and a drier future, the RFW must explore all options for using less water. All the water providers in the RFW have established annual water conservation goals and many are motivated by water wise stewardship. However, existing outdoor watering standards vary (i.e., time of day and day of week) across the jurisdictions. This creates communication and compliance challenges, particularly for the many residents, landscape professionals, property managers, and others who live and work in the different jurisdictions of Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Snowmass Village, and other unincorporated areas of Eagle and Pitkin counties. RWAPA, with support from the water providers, aimed to develop and implement unified outdoor watering standards across the watershed to create a consistent message, help alleviate confusion, increase compliance, and improve water efficiency practices. In partnership with RWAPA, WaterNow and WRA carried out a phased approach to inform the development of the unified outdoor water standards, implementation plan, and education and outreach strategy.
In November 2022, the RWAPA Board voted unanimously in support of the adoption of these unified outdoor watering standards by the RWAPA member agencies. Additionally, RWAPA board members agreed to support each of their jurisdictions throughout the council adoption and approval processes. These outdoor watering standards will be paired with a professionally designed education and outreach campaign to ensure these coordinated outdoor watering standards are successful.
The proposed outdoor watering standards would apply to any residential or commercial customer receiving municipal water supply from the City of Aspen, Town of Basalt, Town of Carbondale, City of Glenwood Springs, Snowmass Water & Sanitation District, and Mid-Valley Metropolitan District. The proposed water use schedule would be in effect year-round and limit outdoor watering to between 6pm and 9am, to coincide with the coolest periods of the evening, night, and morning. The proposed schedule would also use a designated 3-day per week watering schedule, such that properties with an even address water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and properties with an odd address water on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, with no outdoor watering allowed on Mondays. This schedule would result in reduced peak demands on the water system by distributing watering days and it would also allow for one day a week of no watering where storage could be refilled in order to better prepare for wildfire demands or other operations emergencies. Exceptions, curtailments, and violations were also outlined to address unique situations and enforcement mechanisms.
Supporting the implementation of the unified baseline watering standards in the RFW is one important step that water providers, with support from RWAPA, can take to reduce confusion, improve communication and outreach to customers, and align on a shared ethos towards water stewardship throughout the region.