by Pam Zubeck
Although City Council could have changed watering restrictions to three days from two, members played it safe earlier this week and kept the rules at two days for now.
However, Councilors did make a concession to residents who are complaining about dying lawns by increasing to 2,500 cubic feet the amount people can use without moving into the next, higher-priced stage of rates. The previous limit had been 2,000 cubic feet.
In addition, the drought surcharge was cut from twice the rate to 1.25 times the rate of the next block of charges.
All of this becomes effective Aug. 1, so July billings will reflect the previous drought restrictions.
Here's a new release from Colorado Springs Utilities, explaining things:
The Colorado Springs City Council has voted to remain in Stage IIB (two days a week outdoor watering) of the Water Shortage Ordinance, with a change to the threshold by which a Colorado Springs Utilities residential water customer would pay a drought surcharge. Effective Aug. 1, the entry point for block 3 water pricing has been increased to 2,500 cubic feet of water usage, up from 2,000 cubic feet.
The updated drought surcharge has been reduced from twice the block 3 cost, to 1.25 times the block 3 cost.
Commercial customers are billed using a baseline calculated from 2012 average water use. Commercial customers exceeding that baseline will now be charged 1.25 times the current price, and 1.15 times the current price for non-potable water use.
NOTE: Some August water bills will be prorated to include water use during the existing Stage IIB pricing and updated pricing that goes into effect Aug. 1.
Watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. is still not permitted, and there is a limit of three hours for residential customers. Outdoor landscape watering remains limited to two days a week on designated days.
As of mid-July, customers have saved 3.8 billion gallons of water. Springs Utilities' water system is at 57 percent of capacity, and there is approximately 1.8 years of user demand in storage.
Persistent drought is still forecasted for the Pikes Peak region and the majority of southern Colorado, and wise water use will always be a priority in Colorado Springs. Plans for 2014 are dependent on customer conservation and snowfall this winter.
Outdoor landscape watering with a drip irrigation system, handheld hose equipped with an active positive shut-off nozzle or handheld container is allowed for trees, shrubs and plants at any time.
Customers can pinpoint their water usage and identify ways to save with the free My Usage tool at csu.org. The tool can be accessed by logging in to a customer's free online account and clicking on My Usage. Also, water customers can schedule a free indoor/outdoor water audit by visiting http://conservationcenter.org/water-home/slow-the-flow-colorado, or by calling (303) 999-3820 x217.
Detailed information and resources on how to use water wisely is available at csu.org.