Water restrictions remain in Aspen
Extreme drought conditions are expected through July
Due to severe drought conditions, the city of Aspen will remain in stage two water restrictions, which it has been in since last fall.
Aspen and Pitkin County are experiencing extreme drought conditions, and local stream flow is running at between 35% and 70% of median, according to Steve Hunter, the city’s utility resource manager.
Snowpack, or snow water equivalent, is 70% of average for the Roaring Fork watershed with much of Western Colorado around 60% of average or below, Hunter informed Aspen City Council of in a recent informational memo.
“The 2021 water year continues to see below average precipitation for much of the region,” he wrote. “According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, above average temperatures and below average precipitation are expected to continue over the next several months (May, June, July).”
Based on current conditions and forecasts, the city’s drought response committee has recommended remaining in stage two restrictions.
A stage two water shortage is designed to incur a 10% to 25% reduction in water use system-wide and 15% to 25% in outdoor water use.
Stage two restrictions include:
• Watering of any lawn, garden, landscaped area, tree, shrub or other plant is prohibited from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Water every other day on an “odd-even” schedule, which means watering according to address number.
• There will be no washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios, or other paved areas apart from cleaning for sanitary purposes. Any washing must follow stage two water restrictions, including doing it before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
• There will be no refilling of swimming pools with water furnished by the city.
• Permitted landscape installations will be allowed if they comply with existing water efficient ordinance standards and follow current stage two water use restrictions.
• No new water connections will be authorized. However, existing authorizations must be honored.
• Tier three and four water rate surcharges will continue.
Without a citywide reduction in typical water usage, agricultural and recreational activities and fish and wildlife habitat along Maroon and Castle Creeks, Roaring Fork, and Colorado Rivers could be negatively impacted, according to Hunter.
Public safety concerns resulting in increased fire and flood hazards, as well as negative economic impacts due to decreased tourism, also are expected to occur if drought conditions persist.
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Three Aspen-area home sales last week for a combined $99 million punctuated a trend this year where ultra-high-end properties are fetching premium prices in Pitkin County’s tight residential market.