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No, but our rates are a result of the local challenges related to water in our semi-arid region. Like most South Metro communities, Castle Rock is transitioning from a deep groundwater, nonrenewable supply to a renewable supply from snow and rain. This will ensure a sustainable water source for the future. See how we compare to Front Range providers and see how one study compares water and sewer rates nationally. Keep in mind that comparing water bills is not easy, as every water provider is different. For instance, one reason a water bill from Denver Water is less than Castle Rock Water is that it is for drinking water service only. Separate bills (or property taxes imposed) are required for wastewater and stormwater in some other communities. Rates and fees are analyzed and adjusted annually, and this plan is reviewed by a resident-driven, open-meeting Water Commission.
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Sellars Gulch is a surface stream that flows into East Plum Creek. The stream has natural flows that come from rain and snow, sprinkler systems, and natural surface springs. Surface streams, like Sellars Gulch, are a dynamic system that lose and gain water as they travel downstream. Sellars Gulch is wet around Festival Park, but then dips below ground. The water spreads among the sand and gravel underground, but then can be extracted as a drinking water supply downstream. Water that exists in the sand and gravel adjacent to a surface stream below ground is called an alluvial aquifer.
We are being proactive and asking for your help. Every year before summer, Castle Rock Water prepares a Summer Demand Plan, which helps predict what the summer water supply demand will look like. This plan takes into account new water supplies, weather projections and other changes in our community.
The recent hot, dry weather and lack of rain has resulted in East Plum Creek, one of our renewable water sources in Castle Rock, dropping to record low levels. Our proactive approach to conservation during this hot weather, is about peak demand on our systems. Castle Rock Water has a deep groundwater supply. And now, we also have renewable water. Still, we want to be mindful of all of our resources.
What does peak demand mean? Imagine four people in your house all taking long, hot showers at the same time – all while the dishwasher and laundry machine runs on the hot cycle. The hot water heater cannot keep up with the demand all at once, so next time, you may reduce the time in the shower ¬– much like we are asking residents, HOAs, and businesses to do with outside watering.
Lately, residents, HOAs and commercial customers have been using more water than normal. Typical water usage over the summer is about 12.4 million gallons per day. (Typical water usage outside of summer/irrigation months averages approximately 4 million gallons per day.) The past few weeks, the community has been using up to 16.5 million gallons daily. That’s a 25 percent increase, and it’s putting stress on our system during peak times. It’s not that we’re running out of water, it’s that our infrastructure cannot keep up with the peak demand.
For Castle Rock Water it means at certain times of the day the water in our storage tanks is being used by outdoor watering faster than the tanks are being filled. To keep up with that demand, Castle Rock Water is asking residents to be mindful of their outdoor water use. Additionally, HOAs and commercial customers are being placed on a three-day-per-week watering schedule.
What does this mean for you? Help us be proactive in managing our water resources. Stick to the every-third-day watering schedule and work to reduce usage by at least 20 percent. That means if you are watering 10 minutes per cycle, cut back to 8 minutes. That’s really all your lawn needs! Additionally, residents can water between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., and commercial customers can water between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Keep in mind, if you water in the middle of the day, temperatures are so hot, you can lose up to 50 percent of that water due to evaporation.
Most importantly - you don’t need to water every day. Being efficient with your outdoor watering can help your landscape be healthy and save water.
If you’re looking for more ways to cut back, Castle Rock Water will be adding additional funds to the rebate program. Head to CRconserve.com for more conservation tips or to apply for the rebate program.
With recent changes over the last several years, developers are required to utilize landscaping materials designed for our semi-arid environment. For example, Kentucky Bluegrass is not allowed on common spaces and, in 2018, it is no longer allowed anywhere for new development in the Town – including on residential lots. Developers must follow our landscape criteria manual with prescribed low-water-use plants and irrigation practices.
While we are high, mountain desert, we don’t call it desert-scape. We don’t even call it xeriscape. These terms give the idea of rock and cactus. While beautiful, this is not the native Colorado landscape. Castle Rock advocates “Coloradoscape,” with a variety of colorful, low-water-use plants, accented by boulders and organic mulch.
Castle Rock Water has been purchasing water rights in areas of the South Platte River watershed for the last five years as part of our long-term water supply strategic master plan. We are also working on projects to fully reuse all of the water the Town already owns the legal right to use. While we work to build infrastructure (pipes, tanks, plants, etc.) to use that water, Castle Rock leases the water to other entities in order to maximize revenues, to help offset the costs to our customers for developing these water supplies. Our goal is to keep rates as low as we can while still ensuring we have a healthy water supply, updated infrastructure and sustainable water future.