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Coloradans asked to take water conservation pledge

The Water22 pledge has 22 ways for every Coloradan to save 22 gallons of water every day.

DENVER — A few recent storms have reduced the drought at least for some parts of the state, and there has even been some snow in the mountains in May, but nowhere near enough to overcome the low snowpack that accumulated over the winter months. 

Many areas down the Colorado River system are struggling with low water supply, including Lake Powell, which is at its lowest level in history. 

The solution to Colorado's water crisis will have to come from many angles, but the nonprofit organization Water Education Colorado believes that individual conservation is a big part of it.

“We’re asking people to take the Water22 pledge to commit to 22 ways to care for Colorado water in 2022,” said Jayla Poppleton, executive director of Water Education Colorado.

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She said Colorado's water plan has always been about incentives and education instead of restrictions, and Water22 represents that strategy, which she said will help our state avoid harsh statewide water restrictions like they have in California.

“Collectively our individual actions do add up," Poppleton said. "If every Coloradan takes the pledge and implements the 22 ways that we’ve outlined as part of the campaign, we can conserve individually as much as 22 gallons of water per day per person.”

Credit: KUSA

That adds up to 8,000 gallons saved every year by every person, or 48 billion gallons saved statewide in one year -- enough water to fill Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County.

The pledge starts with a lesson. Step one is a challenge to learn more about where your water comes from. 

"A lot of people are just so accustomed to turning on the tap and seeing the water reliably flow," Poppleton said. "We feel that if people knew more about which river or groundwater resource their water comes from, they would be motivated to be more conservative."

The next six steps are about conserving water indoors. 

Poppleton said to take a moment and think about each step to see if there is anything you can be doing at your home.

Shorten your shower time, switch to low-flow showerheads, fix leaky toilets and let your appliances do the dirty work. She said newer appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines are designed to be more efficient with water than hand washing. 

Then the next seven steps pertain to the yard.

“We have huge opportunities to save water outdoors," Poppleton said. "More than 50% of our water use in our municipalities goes toward outdoor irrigation.” 

Poppleton said 2022 might just be the year for you to add a rain barrel to your landscape and catch that free water that falls from the sky. Colorado passed a law in 2015 allowing every resident to have two 55-gallon rain barrels to catch water that runs off the rooftop. 

And she said one of the toughest but most effective decisions a homeowner can make is to part ways with that luscious green water-guzzling lawn.

“I think we are certainly seeing a trend around people implementing more xeriscape and reducing the amount of turf," she said. "And it doesn't have to be the whole yard all at once. Just start by transforming a little section this year."

If you do have a green turf to maintain, she said to take control of your irrigation system. Make sure it is set according to the climate. For instance, only water once or twice a week in May and June, then increase the frequency for the hotter part of summer in July and August.

And if the system does not automatically shut down when it's raining, manually shut it off. Then leave it off for a few days after it rains, especially in May and June. 

Also, make sure there are no leaks in your sprinkler system, and that it's not watering the side of the house or sidewalk.

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