The Drought Response Information Project (DRIP) placed the Grand Valley under Stage I Drought status in June of 2012. Our community was asked to voluntarily reduce their water usage during a time that snowpack measurements, river flows, reservoir levels and precipitation remained at a record low. In 2013, most communities across the State of Colorado were placed under some level of drought status – meaning voluntary and mandatory water restrictions. Water providers patiently awaited the unknown as our State was faced with severe drought conditions, destructive wildfires and just recently the devastating floods.
DRIP is a collaboration of the four Grand Valley water utilities; City of Grand Junction, Clifton Water District, Town of Palisade and Ute Water Conservancy District. DRIP was established following the “Drought of 2002” in an effort to actively respond and educate our local community on drought conditions from year-to-year. This year, DRIP launched the trendy “Join the Flock” water conservation campaign which was based on “Flo the Pink Flamingo”. Hundreds of free pink flamingos were handed out at local events as our community embraced outdoor water conservation through the use of social media. Participants became water conservation ambassadors, within their own neighborhoods, as they displayed Flo the Flamingo and yard signs in their water saving landscapes.
There are two stages of drought identified in the Grand Valley’s Drought Response Plan. Each of the two stages are initiated through different triggers such as snowpack levels, flows in the Colorado River, compact calls or reservoir levels which supply the Grand Valley with municipal water. Stage I Drought status is a voluntary effort made by consumers to reduce their water usage. Stage II Drought status enforces mandatory water restrictions which are enforced by aggressive drought water rates. The Grand Valley has never experienced Stage II Drought status.
As a result of our current conditions, DRIP is relaxing Stage I Drought status in the Grand Valley. Representatives of the local water providers encourage their consumers to continue their water conservation efforts. These efforts should maintain the new normal in our water using habits. The Grand Valley is a semiarid climate with many of the residential and commercial landscapes being non-native to our environment. There is no clear forecast on what our water season will look like in 2014. -Submitted by Joseph R. Burtard