Pueblo West officials laid the groundwork Monday for an updated water conservation plan designed to help the district navigate supply challenges and continuing growth amid drought conditions.
The Pueblo West Metro District Board unanimously approved a proactive plan that calls for water conservation when water storage dwindles or use increases. The plan notably calls for a new water shortage calculation date of April 1 instead of May 1, “because we are seeing a higher increase in consumption from March to April than we are from April to May,” said Jeffery DeHerrera, deputy director of utilities.
All stages of water conservation call for landscape watering to be limited to two days per week.
Stage 1 water conservation measures will kick in when water demand reaches 90% of the district’s two-year water supply. Pueblo West currently has Stage 1 water restrictions in place, which means residents are urged to voluntarily limit water consumption, said board president Doug Proal.
"We are asking the community to water only two days a week in the evening and very early mornings. Using the cycle and soak method will help your grass endure," DeHerrera said.
Watering is prohibited during the heat of the day between 10 a.m and 6 p.m.
A Stage 2 water warning will go into effect if demand reaches 80% of available two-year water supply or the system water demand reaches 96% of treatment capacity daily for four consecutive days. Stage 2 triggers the implementation of a doubled water rate for high water users consuming 25,000 gallons or more per month.
Usage reviews would be conducted for top water users, and the district’s splash park would be closed.
The Stage 3 water emergency phase will kick in when water supply reaches 70% of the two-year normal usage supply or system water demand reaches 100% of treatment capacity four days in a row. Stage 3 calls for a rate increase of one and a half times the rate for monthly water use between 10,000 and 25,000 gallons, and prohibits the planting of sod or seeding.
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Will the Wet Parade return?
The parade, which has been held since the 1980s, has “morphed into a huge water fight,” and has become hugely popular, Proal said.
Board member Matt Smith said he believes the parade needs to resume as it is “a big staple of the community and people come from all over” to participate.
Board member Judy Leonard said she would like the water department to give input.
"It's a great affair for the community. Maybe have a parade but not a lot of water and be creative," Leonard said.
But a “big number of employees would like to have the Fourth of July off,” Proal said. District manager Brian Caserta voiced concerns about water conditions in Pueblo West, and whether or not water restrictions would play a part in the decision to hold the parade.
The board delayed its decision on the event until its May 23 meeting to allow newly elected board members Nick Madero and Joe Mahaney to weigh in.
Fire station bids discussed
The board discussed awarding a $3.5 million construction contract to Golden Triangle Construction of Frederick, to build a new fire station. Procurement Analyst Emily Padilla said a committee had recommended the company because it has the most fire station construction experience among the finalists.
The bid did not call for preference to be given to a local contractor.
Pueblo West Fire Division Chief Tim Mitchell said the recommendation was not only based on Golden Triangle’s experience but “the taxpayer’s best interest.”
Board member Jami Baker Orr asked for time for the board to review the top three bid packages before voting on the contract at the May 23 meeting.
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Trail construction grant applications approved
The board approved the district parks and recreation staff applications for two grants to help finish the Southern Delivery System North Park Trail, which will cost $532,151 in federal funds; and the construction next year of the Joe Martinez Trail which will cost $490,906 in state funds. Neither grant requires a local match.
“That is a million dollars you are asking us to bring in without matching funds – good job,” Proal said.
Office space lease approved
The board also gave majority approval to a new lease for office space at 63 E. Spaulding, to replace headquarters space that was destroyed in March 2019 by a bomb cyclone.
The lease calls for a $6,000 monthly payment for 12 office spaces through the end of 2023.
“The rent seems a little high for that small of an area,” Baker Orr said. “But I know we need the additional space.”
Both Smith and Leonard indicated the district needs its own building rather than spending that amount of money on rent.
“The challenge right now is supply and demand,” Smith said.
Baker Orr, Smith and Leonard agreed to the new lease while Proal abstained because the building is owned by his son Samuel Proal. Board member Kim Swearingen was absent.
This article has been updated to provide more in-depth detail on water restriction stages and further clarify Leonard's statement about the Wet Parade
Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo West big water users pay double with updated conservation plan