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Their Cups Runneth Over

Taps flow freely in Widefield, Security, Fountain

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The Widefield water district has been advertising the following message on its utility bills: "There are no water restrictions for Widefield water customers."
  • The Widefield water district has been advertising the following message on its utility bills: "There are no water restrictions for Widefield water customers."

If you've got it, flaunt it. That, says Widefield resident Lance Bolan, seems to be the attitude of the Widefield Water and Sanitation District, which serves approximately 5,000 water customers.

Bolan says he's been noticing that many lawns in the Widefield area are lush and green, at a time when much of Colorado has turned brown as a result of drought and water restrictions.

The reason is simple: While Colorado Springs and many other cities and towns have severely restricted outdoor watering, Widefield has no water shortage and therefore no restrictions.

And while others have launched aggressive public-relations campaigns to get consumers to cut water use, the Widefield water district has been advertising the following message on its utility bills: "There are no water restrictions for Widefield water customers."

That may make many customers happy -- but not Bolan. How, he wonders, can the district display such an attitude?

"They're actually encouraging water use at a time when the whole state is in drought," said an incredulous Bolan in a recent interview.

The manager of the water district -- a quasi-public entity governed by local developers -- says the purpose of including the message in the bills isn't to encourage consumption, but merely to inform customers.

"The reason we do that is because the news is full of [stories about] water restrictions," said the manager, Larry Bishop. As a result, "our telephones continually ring off the hook" with customers asking whether Widefield has any restrictions.

Bishop says the district has about 50 percent more water available than it anticipates using this year. The district gets some of its water from the Fryingpan-Arkansas project, via a pipeline from the Pueblo Reservoir, and the rest from local wells.

Bishop attributes the district's advantageous situation to "good prior planning" and says he sees no reason to restrict water use. "As long as we have a good supply of water, then I don't see any reason why people can't use it."

Nonetheless, the district's water rates tend to automatically encourage conservation, because they're among the highest in the region, Bishop says.

Meanwhile, Widefield's neighbors Security and Fountain also have plenty of water and no restrictions. Still, managers for the Security and Fountain water districts said they are actively urging customers to conserve voluntarily.

The Fountain Water Department has also adjusted its rates so that heavy users pay more per gallon, says manager Ron Woolsey. Although Fountain has enough water now, that may no longer be the case if the drought lasts another two years, he says.

Bolan, meanwhile, says he can't believe some local districts are letting water flow freely in the midst of a disastrous drought. "I just think it's a travesty."

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