Conservation urged amid drought

The drought is far from over, but for the moment, Grand Valley residents are being encouraged to conserve and water managers are holding other measures in reserve.

“We’re just maintaining” with what are called Stage I water-conservation measures, Dave Reinertsen, chairman of the Mesa County Drought Response Information Project, said Tuesday after water managers met. “We’re encouraging people to conserve as much as they can.”

Domestic water suppliers will keep an eye on how well irrigators are coping with low flows from the melting of the high country snowpack.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service on Tuesday said the snow-water equivalent in the Gunnison River Basin was 29 percent below average and 25 percent below average in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

On Grand Mesa, which holds the water supply for Ute Water Conservancy District, Grand Junction and Palisade, the snow-water equivalent at Trickel Park Reservoir was 34 percent below normal and 25 percent below normal at Mesa Lakes.

A bellwether for the domestic suppliers will be how well Grand Valley irrigators fare in the coming months, said Reinertsen, also the assistant manager of Clifton Water District.

If irrigation water runs low, the domestic suppliers will reconsider whether to institute conservation measures that include water rates designed to discourage high use, as well as rationing programs.

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