Aspen moves to Stage 2 water restrictions

For the first time, the city is expanding mandatory restrictions to all users
Stage 2 restrictions require water users to repair irrigation systems and sprinklers. (Photo: Wenling01, Dreamstime)

The Aspen City Council announced on Tuesday that it has voted to enact Stage 2 water restrictions for Aspen Water customers. This is the first time the city has implemented Stage 2 restrictions, according to the announcement.

“The goal of Stage 2 is to protect the health of Castle and Maroon Creeks, which are running at only 30% of average for August, while maintaining Aspen’s municipal water at levels that can meet customers’ demands,” the council wrote in a statement.

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The city implemented Stage 1 water restrictions in May, which established voluntary water conservation efforts for residents but made restrictions mandatory for city users. Stage 2 restrictions are mandatory for all users.

Under the restrictions, Aspen Water customers may only water lawns three days per week and for no more than 30 minutes per sprinkler zone. No watering is allowed between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. or, of course, when it is raining.

Native areas may only be watered two days per week.

There are some exemptions to the Stage 2 restrictions, including flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, new landscapes and trees that have been planted in the last two years. Landscapes controlled by evapotranspiration (ET) controllers or weather stations are also exempt.

Irrigation systems must be repaired so they don’t leak, and any watering behaviors that result in water accumulating or flowing over paved surfaces is prohibited.

The city is offering free sprinkler assessments and equipment upgrades to residents, especially high-water users. Assessments conducted earlier this summer on sprinkler systems in local parks resulted in 20% less water use in June, and a 29% reduction in July compared to the prior two years.

In addition to making these restrictions mandatory, water fees are increasing between 50% and 75% for Aspen Water customers.

The city is hosting a meeting at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association on Aug. 20 to answer questions about the restrictions and what they mean for water users.

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