Officials in Greeley, Colorado are asking residents to stop watering their lawns two weeks earlier than usual. From The Greeley Tribune via The Denver Post:
If residents stop watering their lawns by Oct. 1, the city will have more water in its reservoirs to use after this winter, Jon Monson, Greeley’s water and sewer director, told The Tribune. The city normally recommends that residents stop watering their lawns by Oct. 15.
Greeley has enough water to get through the winter, Monson said. He said the plea to residents to turn off their sprinklers is more of a proactive request.
“We’re just asking people to think about what might happen next year,” Monson said. If the snowpack is similar to last winter’s, then the city may have to implement watering restrictions next summer, he said. “They might want to have a little in the savings account there.”
This may not come as a surprise given the drought conditions in Colorado, but it’s worth noting how much water Greeley has sold to oil and gas companies for use in hydraulic fracturing. A recent article in The New York Times, which featured Western Resource Advocates’ concerns over fracking, included some interesting figures:
For years, Greeley has leased its surplus water to farmers, construction companies and others. In 2008, the oil and gas companies started making offers, said Jon Monson, the city’s water and sewer director. Most of the water still goes to agriculture, but the city rented 1,300 acre feet to energy companies last year and is on pace to rent 1,800 acre feet — as much as 586 million gallons — this year.
It is easy math for the city: The farmers pay $30 an acre foot. The oil and gas companies pay $3,300, which will earn the city’s water department $4 million to $5 million this year.
As we noted in our report “Fracking Our Future,” local and state officials need more information on water usage related to fracking in order to make better decisions regarding future water supplies. If I were a resident of Greeley, I’d be asking why I needed to conserve water when the city was selling hundreds of millions of gallons to be hauled away and used somewhere else.