AURORA | Aurora is joining more than a dozen Front Range cities to raise awareness about possible upcoming water shortages in what’s poised to be a dry year for Colorado.
Aurora Water, the city’s water utility, will co-chair the regional group.
Spokesperson Greg Baker said it’s still too early to tell whether Aurora Water’s vast network of reservoirs and sources will lose enough water to trigger use restrictions in city limits. So far, dry soils, low snowpack and extreme drought conditions in much of the state aren’t painting the picture of a summer flush with water.
“But it’s still too early to tell,” Baker cautioned.
The utility and others are banking on big snow-makers hitting the mountains in the spring, which tremendously benefit water networks in high river basins.
Meanwhile, Aurora Water will co-chair a coalition with Denver Water and 12 other Front Range water utilities to update residents about the ongoing drought conditions and the possibility of cutbacks. Fresh Water News first reported the effort.
The group will meet for the first time next week.
According to Aurora Water’s latest report on Jan. 26, reservoir levels currently remain in “relatively healthy” positions to keep supplying water for everything from taps to shower heads and lawn sprinklers greening the high plains.
But Baker said Colorado is suffering from extremely dry soils that suck in snowpack and leave less for runoff into storage reservoirs. That was the case last year, he said, as the regional drought deepened and record-shattering wildfires rampaged the Rockies. Snowpack levels in river basins are also below average this year.
Currently, Aurora Water has about two years of water supply stored in various reservoirs and facilities. The utility usually hopes for a three-year supply in storage, and low levels may trigger restrictions, Baker said.
Aurora Water would make a decision to restrict water usage in April, Baker said. Until then, water managers have their fingers crossed for big storms in April and May, which can make the difference between a flush and lean water year for Front Range suburbanites.
The water utility last cut water usage in April 2013, according to Baker. That September, the bizarre “1,000-year flood” clobbered Front Range communities in Boulder, Jamestown and Lyons.
Baker noted that, with climate change, extreme weather events are more commonplace.
“You have extreme drought followed by extreme precipitation,” he said. “So managing that is a bigger challenge.”