Dry conditions impact water supplies in Highlands Ranch

Centennial Water asks residents in service area to conserve

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Centennial Water is warning Highlands Ranch residents to cut down on water use as dry conditions continue and storage levels dip nearly 30% below the June average.

In a recent press release, Centennial Water officials said the communities of Highlands Ranch, Solstice and northern Douglas County have already been under a drought watch since April 25.

In the statement, Centennial Water said with the exception of the late May snowstorm and a few days of rain, drought conditions have continued to be warm and dry.

According to the water company, which supplies water and wastewater services to about 100,000 customers, Centennial Water’s storage reservoirs have continued to drop. As of June 21, they were at 37% capacity, which is 30% less water in storage than the average for June over the past 10 years.

If conditions continue to stay warm and dry, and reservoir levels continue to drop, the district says it may need to enact Stage 1 drought restrictions.

Last year in May, data provided by the water district had Centennial Water’s reservoir storage at 6,782 acre-feet, or 39% of the 17,200 acre-feet capacity. The median storage level for May over the last 10 years has been 9,495 acre-feet.

Water districts measure water levels through acre-feet, which is about 326,000 gallons, equaling the size of a football field covered with water one foot deep. 

“Water is a precious resource and ongoing drought conditions force us to consider making hard choices,” said General Manager Sam Calkins. “While we know Stage 1 restrictions would present challenges for the community, we have to balance those challenges with our mission of ensuring a safe and secure water supply today and in the future. Our hope is that making small sacrifices today, when needed, will provide a more secure future.”

As part of the solution, Centennial Water asks customers to always be water wise to help conserve water both inside and outside their home, especially this summer.

According to the statement, if the community can come together to cut back their water use by 10%, water supplies will benefit in the long run.

Centennial Water is recommending residents do simple things such as installing water-efficient spray heads, adjusting lawn mowers to a higher setting, installing a rain sensor or signing up for a free Slow the Flow irrigation inspection from Resource Central.

Customers can learn more about these programs at centennialwater.org/rebates.

Centennial Water has a Drought Response Plan designed to maximize available water supplies and reduce water use during times of water shortage caused by drought. The drought plan has many tools Centennial Water can employ to improve water supply, partner with large irrigators and reduce overall consumption. The plan also identifies indicators for different stages of drought.

Stage 1 restrictions include limiting outdoor irrigation for residential and commercial customers to one or two days per week. In addition, Stage 1 drought rates would go into effect. Drought rates impact customers who use more water than what is allocated in their individual water budget. Customers who stay within their water budget would not see an increase in water rates.

Drought rates were approved by the Board of Directors in December.

While there are Stage 1 and Stage 2 levels in place, in 2021 Centennial Water never implemented the options, staying in a Drought Watch stage all summer.

During the June 27 board meeting, Kari Larese, the Centennial Water community relations manager, said staff recomended moving from the Drought Watch designation to Stage 1. However, with not enough board members present, no action was taken.

Larese said the board will likely take the issue up again at another board meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

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