City of Rifle bans outdoor watering

Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group
Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Erin McIntyre):

Problems with the city of Rifle’s water treatment system have led officials to ban outdoor watering for at least the next few days.

The announcement came in the middle of the first heat wave of summer, with 90-degree highs forecast through Tuesday by the National Weather Service.

The city asked its 9,700 customers to curb their water use as much as possible, and prohibited any outdoor use of water, forcing businesses such as car washes to shut down until the problem is fixed.

Utilities Director Jim Miller said Rifle law enforcement officers were tasked with reminding residents not to water outdoors, temporarily policing water use.

Though residents with wells or irrigation water from ditches were not included in the ban, use of potable drinking water from the municipal system is prohibited until further notice. Residents were notified to stop watering outside with a reverse 911 phone call.

The problems started on June 1, when a supply line that provided water from the Colorado River to the main pump station broke. The 14-inch water line, which runs under railroad tracks and a state highway, had a major leak that was resolved by the following morning, Miller said.

But what transpired was a bigger problem — the initial leak put stress on the pump station that brings the water from the supply line to the Graham Mesa treatment plant, and all of the check valves broke, causing the malfunction.

Though the city has a second, smaller treatment plant and pump station on Beaver Creek, located on Taughenbaugh Mesa, its capacity provides only roughly 10 percent of what the system demands, Miller said.

Right now officials are trying to resolve the situation by hooking up a temporary pumping system to feed the Graham Mesa treatment plant.

Miller encouraged residents to conserve water indoors as well as refraining from watering outside.

“Everyone should curb their water use,” he said. “People need to take this seriously because it’s what delivers water to most of the city of Rifle.”

Residents will be notified when the watering restrictions have been lifted, on the city’s website (http://www.rifleco.org) and via reverse 911 phone calls, Miller said.

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