Colorado Springs Utilities will be monitoring customers' water usage to identify violators of new irrigation rules. 

As more and more irrigation sprinklers start greening up lawns across the city, Colorado Springs Utilities will be watching to make sure customers are abiding by new watering restrictions.

The utility limits the number of times customers can water to three days a week year-round and from May 1 to Oct. 15 the utility prohibits watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., said Danielle Oller, a spokeswoman for Utilities.

Customers are also prohibited from washing their driveways, sidewalks or patios, unless there is a safety concern, or allowing water to pool on hard surfaces or run down gutters, among other new rules. 

The city-owned utility is monitoring trends in customers' water use to identify those watering too much and violators will receive educational letters, she said. The utility also expects to identify violators through reports from other customers, Oller said. 

The utility will not be fining customers violating the restrictions in the first year. Next year, residents could be fined $100 after two notices, she said. 

The rules were approved by Colorado Springs City Council, which also serves as the Utilities Board, in December to help conserve water in the growing semi-arid city. 

"Water is an extremely limited resource and it's our responsibility to use it wisely," Oller said. 

To meet it's water conservation goals, the city needs to conserve more than 10,000 acre-feet of water per year over the next 50 years or enough water to fill more than 5,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools annually, she said. The new irrigation rules meet 10% of the goal, Oller said. 

The new rules offer some flexibility to residents and businesses. Residents can apply for a permit on the Utilities' website to water more than three days a week and during the day to establish lawns. Businesses can apply for a water allocation plan that allows them to water more than three days a week, which can benefit plants growing in sandy soil, according to Utilities. 

Utilities is also offering five free webinars on water-wise landscapes at csu.org. The first one will be Thursday at 6 p.m.

Residents can report water-rule violations by calling Utilities at 448-4800. Utilities encourages residents to educate each other before reporting violations, Oller said. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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