Pueblo: Public landscaping used 9 percent of metered water at no charge or half-price #codrought

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Public landscaping consumed about 9 percent of metered water by the Pueblo Board of Water Works in 2012. The water is provided by the water board at no charge or half-price, and its use increased at a greater rate than the use by paid accounts. Often, public landscape watering occurs during daylight hours when homeowners are encouraged to refrain from turning on the sprinklers

“Our conversations about this have been ongoing, and it’s frustrating. We really don’t have a hammer,” said Paul Fanning, spokesman for the water board. “I’m going to be pressing harder this season about why we need to be concerned.”

About 850 million gallons of water were used to water landscaping in city parks, schools, public buildings, rights of way and on the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, according to a report by the water board last week.

A total of 9.3 billion gallons were used in Pueblo’s metered water system, an increase for the third straight year as drought deepened in Southern Colorado. However, the use for public areas increased about 7.8 percent from 2011, while the total use in Pueblo was up only about 5.3 percent. The value of the no-charge or half-price water, if it were used in paid accounts, would be about $1.8 million. The total revenue from metered accounts last year was $22.4 million.

The water board will devote more of its advertising budget to conservation messages this year, but is not yet planning mandatory restrictions, Fanning said. “We’ll be emphasizing drought preparedness,” he said. “We’re definitely encouraging all of our customers to water less often and more deeply. The outlook doesn’t look good, and one could argue it’s an opportunity to use water more efficiently.”

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