Water Shortage Action Plan#
Water Shortage Watch In Effect
City Manager Darin Atteberry signed a declaration and order for a voluntary Water Shortage Watch. The Water Shortage Watch and corresponding voluntary outdoor water restrictions will go into effect Thursday, April 29 for Fort Collins Utilities water customers.
This is pursuant to Fort Collins City Code Section 26-167(a) and the Water Shortage Action Plan (WSAP). The voluntary water-saving actions implemented during a Water Shortage Watch follow measures under WSAP Action Level I.
The Water Shortage Watch has been enacted due to a potential limitation on Utilities’ ability to treat Cache la Poudre River supplies due to ongoing impacts from the Cameron Peak Fire and the potential for high demands during what is projected to be a hot and dry summer.
Upon determination that a watch is no longer needed or that conditions have worsened, the city manager will publish another Declaration and Order, either declaring the end of the watch or indicating the need for mandatory water restrictions following guidelines identified in the WSAP.
Only Fort Collins Utilities water customers are directly affected by the Water Shortage Watch. The East Larimer County, Fort Collins-Loveland and North Weld water districts use different water sources that were not impacted by the Cameron Peak Fire. Each water provider enacts water restrictions as they deem necessary. Customers should check with their own water provider for restriction status.
Depending on the water quality conditions and the severity of the impacts from the wildfires, Utilities will continue looking to the community for help reducing water use when necessary. Stay updated on the status of Utilities’ water quality and resources by visiting fcgov.com/water-status, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 970-416-8040 or V/TDD 711.
The Water Shortage Action Plan (WSAP), previously known as the Water Supply Shortage Response Plan, establishes conditions and restrictions to manage Utilities' water supply in the event of projected water shortages as established by City Code Section 26-167(a).
Following a two-year review and engagement process, the plan was approved by City Council April 21, 2020, and is effective as of May 1, 2020.
The WSAP includes a comprehensive list of tactics and restrictions to be implemented in the event of a water shortage, as declared by the City Manager.
An effective response to water shortage requires a suite of strategies and tactics – no single water restriction will provide the response needed for most water shortages. The following guiding principles, not listed in order of priority or importance, will be followed as possible during a shortage.
- Restrict less-essential uses first and avoid restrictions on more essential uses.
- Minimize adverse economic impacts.
- Protect public and community activities.
- Implement extensive public information and media relations program.
- Avoid irretrievable loss of natural vegetation.
- Explore alternative water supply options.
Collaborate regionally and with other water service providers.
For a full list of water shortage tactics and strategies, including restrictions, see Chapter 1 of the WSAP.
Voluntary indoor water use strategies encourage optional and additional water use reductions based on water-efficient best practices and will be promoted concurrently during any mandatory outdoor water use restrictions.
Mandatory outdoor water use restrictions are required water use reduction strategies that are subject to monitoring and enforcement.
Alternative demand reduction actions may include a unique combination of mandatory restrictions and/or voluntary water restrictions. This level should be enacted when other levels are not adequate or appropriate to address a unique or extreme water shortage scenario.
|Action Summary Table|
|Action Level||Water Shortage Watch - Voluntary||I - Low||II - Medium||III - High||IV - Alternative|
|% Projected Water Shortage||Potential Shortage||1-15%||16-25%||26-35%||Unique and extreme water shortages not adequately or appropriately addressed by Water Shortage Watch or Levels I-III|
Permits are available to allow for exceptions to assigned watering days and frequencies only, as described in Chapter 2 of the WSAP.
Permits may be issued for individuals or businesses unable to comply with watering restrictions for the following conditions:
- New seed and sod
- Medical/physical hardship
- Religious objection
- Large (four acres or greater) and City parks inactive areas
- City and Community active areas
- Raw or well water use
Chapter 3 of the WSAP focuses on enforcement of water restrictions. The enforcement, including fines, and permitting functions for Utilities’ water restrictions are designed to ensure compliance with the WSAP, as well as City Code Section 26-166 (Prohibition of waste). Enforcement of restrictions, together with ongoing public education and outreach, are needed to achieve the goal of decreasing water demand, thus minimizing the need for greater water restriction action levels.
Per Chapter 4 of the WSAP, regular and frequent review of the WSAP and water shortage action measures is critical to ensure Utilities’ staff and customers are prepared for a water shortage. The WSAP should be reviewed at least every five years, or sooner as new information becomes available. Updates may be necessary during or following a water shortage event, updates to either the Water Supply and Demand Management Policy or the Water Efficiency Plan, or changes to City Code. The next update should be considered in 2023-2024 for potential adoption in 2025.
A water shortage occurs when the projected water supply is less than the anticipated water demand with a set amount of water reserves in storage. Water supply is planned to include a storage reserve factor that equates to 20% of annual demand in storage through a 1-in-50 year- drought (a drought that has a 2% chance of occurring each year). The following events, or combination of, are examples that could trigger a water shortage:
- Drought (greater than a 1-in-50 year)
- Contamination or other water quality issues
- Treatment plant offline or another infrastructure issue
Fort Collins Utilities uses water supply projections, meteorological forecasts and available storage to estimate whether supplies are adequate to meet demand. If supplies are less than planned, water restrictions may be necessary in order to manage the availability of water for use in the immediate future or within the planning horizon for managing the water supply, as outlined in the current Water Shortage Action Plan. The plan applies only to customers in the Fort Collins Utilities service area.
- 2013 – Briefly responded with level 1 restrictions: Caused by drought and water quality concerns following the High Park and Hewlett fires. The fires carried soil and ash into the Poudre River, causing water contamination and the Colorado-Big Thompson quota for Horsetooth Reservoir was lower than usual.
- 2002 – Responded with level 1, then escalated to level 2 restrictions. Caused by drought.
Water Efficiency is Always Encouraged#
- Water efficiency is strongly encouraged year-round. Utilities offers several programs to help residents and businesses conserve water.
- Even without restrictions, lawn watering two days per week is typically enough. During hot, dry weather, a third day may be needed.
- Free sprinkler system audits can help you run your system most efficiently.
- The City's wasting water code will continue to be enforced. Notify Utilities of leaks, flowing or pooling water to help save water.