GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Nearly all of Western Colorado is experiencing some level of drought.
Low water levels in rivers, streams and reservoirs are a cause for concern for water providers, and the reason for the Drought Response Information Project, or DRIP. Andrea Lopez with Ute Water says, “Each of the water providers has identified some different alternatives to our preferred water sources, but in drought years we have to take what we can get.”
During the drought it takes partnerships. “Right now, we are estimating that we will have plenty of water for the summer season,” said David Reinertsen with Clifton Water.
The city of Grand Junction gets water from the Kannah Creek and reservoirs on the Grand Mesa, but now the city’s contingency plan is Clifton Water that’s also using a contingency plan. Reinertsen says, “Clifton Water depends on the Colorado River as their water source, and in the summer time we are actually pulling water from the Grand Valley Irrigation Canal.”
Reinertsen says Clifton Water has a tiered water rate which charges a per 1,000 gallon cost once you get above the minimum of 3,000 gallons a month which hasn’t changed in years, but not for Ute Water. “So, back on June 10th Ute Water starting pumping from the Colorado River,” said Lopez.
Ute Water has had to adapt to the drought by using their plan B; pulling water from the Colorado river. Lopez says, “Pumping out of the Colorado River, although not preferred, was necessary to slow down the draw downs of our Jerry Creek reservoirs and our high quality Grand Mesa water.”
Lopez says a Ute Water customer will have to pay a higher price because of using electricity to pump the water and the chemicals used to treat the water from the river because of more contaminants. “2% for an average that uses the minimum 3,000 gallons is looking at about 44cents-47cents each month,” said Lopez.
Reinertsen says, “We’re just trying to encourage all of our customers to cut back as much as they can because what we save today will get us through tomorrow.”
Clifton Water does have an Emergency Drought Rate structure providing an incentive for customers to use less than 10,000 gallons of water per month, according to a news release from Ute Water. This emergency rate has not been implemented, but will charge five times the normal rate for usage over 10,000 gallons.