Residents in the Lookout Mountain Water District can anticipate dwindling water supplies in the coming months — a scenario created by extended drought conditions and low-priority rights.
At the end of 2012, the reservoir on Squaw Pass Road was only 67 percent of capacity with 174 acre-feet of water, according to water district information. The 500 residents connected to the district system typically use 200 acre-feet of water a year collectively.
“It’s a pretty sustained problem for us,” said Christina Shea, LMWD administrator. “This year is worse.”
In an effort to conserve the supply, the district is enacting surcharges for use over the standard amount, said Shea. The surcharges will begin with the May billing period and will continue through September.
“We are desperate,” said Shea. “We are trying to help our customers understand.”
Shea said the upcoming charges will be added to water usage greater than 2,500 gallons a month per household. In a 60-day billing cycle, if a residence is over the 5,000-gallon limit, then surcharges are added to the standard fee of $42.
Those who use greater amounts of water are subject to extra fees ranging from $1 to $200 per 1,000 gallons, depending on the total overage.
Adding to the problem of the ongoing drought, which has affected many area water supplies, is that the Lookout Mountain district has low priority water rights, said Shea.
The water the district uses originally belonged to the city of Golden, she said. When Golden no longer needed this source of water, the Lookout Mountain Water District formed and acquired this supply, which has water rights dating from 1903.
Whenever surrounding communities such as Arvada need water, they call the rights from the Lookout Mountain district, affecting its supply. Adding to this dilemma is that the state has become stricter in enforcing water priority usage, said Shea.
Because of this situation, the Lookout Mountain district will have to rely on its stored water in the coming months. The Beaver Brook watershed, which is the source of the Lookout Mountain water, is small in comparison to the one in Bear Creek that serves Evergreen, Shea noted.
To get the message across to district residents about water shortages, they are penalized for using excessive amounts, Shea said.
“I feel like our board has been very proactive,” she remarked. “It’s a severe situation.”
The water district also has offered a list of ways to conserve water:
•Contract with a water trucking service when large amounts of water are needed.
•Avoid using district water for outdoor hot tubs and ponds.
•Check for leaky faucets.
•Take five-minute showers.
•Plant drought-resistant landscaping.
•Limit outdoor watering.
•Use water from rain gutters on plants.
•Install low-water devices in toilets and flush only when necessary.
•Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator, rather than running water until cold.
•Turn off faucet when brushing teeth.
For more information, visit the Lookout Mountain Water District website at www.lookoutmountainwaterdistrict.org.