The first six months of 2021 are predicted to be dryer than normal, and the Evergreen Metropolitan District is reminding residents that it isn’t too soon to conserve water.
All foothills residents, whether in a water district or on private wells, should be concerned about drought, and EMD General Manager Dave Lighthart is already expecting to impose water restrictions in the district as soon as April.
“The stream-flow forecast that came out in January is showing critical issues throughout the state but most importantly in the Bear Creek and the Mount Evans watersheds,” Lighthart said. “We want people to be aware that we are extremely dry. The long-range forecasts for the (foothills) are that temperatures will likely be higher than normal with an equal chance of lower-than-normal precipitation.”
According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as of Jan. 1, Colorado’s year-to-date mountain snowpack was 83% of normal and precipitation was 70% of normal. Last year, the snowpack was 119% and precipitation was 92% of normal.
The 2020 water year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2020, finished on a record dry note, according to the conservation service. The combined precipitation in August and September 2020 totaled the lowest in the 36 years the service has kept records. Then October precipitation across Colorado was 47% of average.
Last summer, EMD instituted Level 2 drought restrictions and was concerned it would need to move to Level 3 — the strictest level — until a couple of rainstorms in July increased water flows in Clear Creek.
EMD’s Level 1 requests voluntary reductions in water usage; Level 2 requires mandatory cutbacks in both residential and commercial outside watering; Level 3 requires no outside water uses and assesses fines for violations.
Lighthart said EMD generally waits until April to begin water restrictions, hoping that the typical spring snowstorms will positively impact snowpack, but “the long-range forecasts are not being very positive in that regard.”