Basalt curbs watering of lawns |

Basalt curbs watering of lawns

Basalt is instituting mandatory lawn watering restrictions today as a precaution against running the wells dry.

The Town Council surprised the staff by voting 6-0 to put mandatory restrictions in place. The public works department usually implements voluntary restrictions in June.

Councilman Leroy Duroux said the drought conditions and potential for water shortages warrant the mandatory restrictions.

Councilwoman Anne Freedman agreed that the town should be promoting conservation steps. “Colorado is basically facing a water emergency this year,” she said.

Residences with even-numbered addresses can water lawns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those with odd-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No one can water on Mondays.

Anyone caught violating the restrictions will receive a written notice and order to comply. If they fail to comply, they face a $50 fine, according to town code.

Raw water users are exempt from the latest restrictions. Water use such as washing a vehicle outdoors isn’t affected yet, but further restrictions could be put in place.

The town already implemented other rules to make it financially worthwhile to conserve. New water rates went into effect this spring that penalize the largest water users at higher rates.

Basalt is the first town in the Roaring Fork Valley to impose mandatory restrictions and one of the first in the state. Lawn watering was targeted because it accounts for an estimated 60 percent of summer domestic use.

Basalt public works director Gerry Pace said the town’s first source of water is a spring that produces 360 gallons per minute. It is augmented by two wells – one that produces 250 gallons per minute and a new one that produces twice that.

When summer water demand peaks, the wells will produce about two-thirds of the domestic water used by Basalt. Those sources are expected to provide ample water, yet an ongoing drought raises questions not only for Basalt, but for water users around the state.

Pace said the department will promote conservation rather than just play water cops.

Probably the best conservation tip, he said, is to turn off the automatic timer when it rains or install a rain sensor on the automatic system. They are inexpensive, work well and save money, he said.

The public works staff will help residents find their water meter so they can monitor their use and check for leaks, set irrigation clocks, measure the watering rate of individual sprinkler systems and discuss landscaping options that require little water.

A town pamphlet on conservation tips said bluegrass lawns need less water than many people think, and they easily adapt to three days of watering per week.

Lawns should be watered in early morning or late evening to minimize evaporation. Leave grass longer during the hottest months so it retains moisture better. The town recommends a height of two to three inches in the months of June, July and August.

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