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Drought soon may force water restrictions in Colo.

The Associated Press

DENVER – Colorado’s largest municipal water providers are considering restricting spring and summer watering to two times a week because of the continuing drought, warning that recent heavy snowstorms have not been enough to ease concerns.

Denver Water, Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities are all contemplating strict drought restrictions, which have yet to be approved.

Denver Water spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said the only way lawn-watering restrictions could be avoided in Denver is if the mountains were to receive at least 8 feet of snow by April.

In a statement Thursday, Denver Water said customers could have two assigned watering days a week beginning April 1.

“We’ve never seen conditions like this, and we are concerned about our water supply. Our reservoirs haven’t been full since July 2011,” said Jim Lochhead, manager of Denver Water. “We need our customers’ help to reduce water use and keep as much water as possible in storage as we move through this year and into the next.”

Lochhead said it could even be worse next year, unless there is enough water to make up for the last two years.

In the past, cities have cited and fined people for breaking the rules.

Snowpack in the South Platte and Colorado River basins from which Denver Water receives its supply are 53 percent of average and 68 percent of average, respectively. That snow serves as Denver’s water supply.

Denver Water provides about one-third of the state’s treated water supply, serving most of the Denver metro area and suburbs.

Customers are being urged to not water lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. They also are being asked not to waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt and repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days. Those rules could become mandatory in some cities later this month.

Meanwhile, Colorado lawmakers also are considering steps to cope with the drought. Legislators tentatively have approved 15 water-storage and other projects that they said will help Colorado better plan for future dry spells.

More than $70 million in water projects throughout Colorado are planned. The money will come from funds set aside for construction that have helped nearly 440 water projects since 1971.

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