Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Rainy weather helps Colorado Springs households quench thirst for water

By Jesse Byrnes, jesse.byrnes@gazette.com - Updated: July 31, 2013 at 11:13 am

Rain equals less water use, which means lower utility bills.

That's the message from city water officials, which reported a 38 percent drop in water consumption last week compared to the same time last year.

"Definitely when it rains it helps with water consumption," said Patrice Lehermeier, a spokeswoman with Colorado Springs Utilities.

Colorado Springs residents and businesses used 600 million gallons of water July 22-28, compared to 963 million gallons for the same week last year. It was also 6 degrees cooler and the city got .08 inches more rain for the same time frame.

The lowest water consumption point of the summer came a week earlier, July 15-21, when households used only 556 million gallons of water after getting drowned in more than 2 inches of rain. Until then, residents were using about 600-700 million gallons of water per week.

Colorado Springs has gotten 4.51 inches of rain for July, 1.89 inches above normal for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

The city recommends residents and businesses check irrigation timers and turn off their rain censors when it rains.

"When folks use less water it's a great benefit to our community's water supply," Lehermeier said.

Colorado Springs has been under water restrictions since late spring. Last week City Council members voted to reduce the restrictions, leaving watering limited to two days a week but increasing the amount residents can use before hitting a surcharge: from 2,000 cubic feet, or about 14,961 gallons, to 2,500 cubic feet or about 18,701 gallons.

Council members also lowered the fee for those that go over the 2,500 cubic feet threshold from twice the regular rate to 1.25 times the rate. Both changes go into effect Aug. 1.

The city has a goal of saving 5.8 billion gallons of water by Oct. 1 and has already saved 4.2 billion gallons, about a billion gallons more than it hoped to achieve by this time.

The city needs to save as much as possible during summer months - when people typically use more water - because it has collected as much from snow runoff as it can expect to see this year, city officials say.

As of July 28, Colorado Springs was at 57.1 percent in its water system storage compared to 61.4 percent at the same time last year. The normal system storage level is 84.8 percent.

"We have what we have at this point," Lehermeier said.

The rain that has blanketed most of the city recently is due to pulsing weather patterns from a southern monsoon and is expected to continue through the middle of next week, according to the weather service.

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Connect on Twitter: @jessebyrnes

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