On the water, Longmont is in better shape than many communities


Although the number fluctuates seasonally, Longmont water resources analyst Wes Lowrie estimates the city uses about 15 million gallons of water every day.

This includes water from faucets in residences, businesses, schools, parks and everywhere else in Longmont.

“In the winter, it’s probably more like…eight million gallons a day,” Lowrie said of Longmont’s average daily water usage. “In the summer it’s probably more like 25 million gallons a day.”

Dan Shippee, Instrumental Control Supervisor at Nelson Flanders Wastewater Treatment Plant, is busy troubleshooting the operation at Longmont on May 13, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Lowrie says water users across the city have continued to demonstrate their ability to retain liquid product, especially over the past two decades.

Longmont’s population in 2000 was 71,303, according to US Census Bureau data, and in 2020 it was 98,885.

However, despite the increase in population, Longmont’s water demand is down 5% from 20 years ago, which Lowrie attributes to local water conservation practices.

On its website, the city lists several indoor and outdoor water conservation techniques, including watering lawns and gardens no more than twice a week, xeriscaping when possible, and installing low-flow showerheads that use two gallons per minute or less.

“You’re still looking at your current year, but you’re also trying to plan beyond the year ahead of you,” Lowrie said. “Longmont, we are predicting a 100-year drought over seven years. So we’re taking a pretty aggressive approach to make sure we have enough water to cover this hypothetical event.

According to Lowrie, water suppliers often predict a drought every 50 years over a five-year period, which is less severe.

In its regular session on Tuesday, Longmont City Council approved the city’s 2022-23 Water Supply and Drought Management Plan. The decision was unanimous.

Longmont gets its water primarily from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountain National Park region and has “multiple springs” it can draw from, Lowrie explained.

The Nelson Flanders water treatment plant in Longmont on May 13, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
The Nelson Flanders water treatment plant in Longmont on May 13, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

As part of this plan, staff from Longmont’s Water Resources Division and Department of Public Works and Natural Resources will monitor storage levels in the Ralph Price Reservoir and St. Vrain Creek Basin.

If the combination of supply and available storage exceeds projected water demand by more than 135%, the city will not be considered in a drought scenario, the plan says.

If the raw water supply fell to between 105 and 120 percent of projected water demand, the city would require customers to reduce their water usage by “at least 10 percent,” according to the plan.

Currently, this city’s water supply is at a “sustainable conservation level.”

“It explains that Longmont has been careful with how it has sourced water and we have been careful with how we have used water in the past,” Councilwoman Marcia Martin said at the meeting. of the city council on Tuesday. “We have a lot, that’s the bottom line there.”

“Not all communities have multiple sources to get water from,” Lowrie said. “Some have a source, and if something happens to that source, they struggle.”

In addition to residents being more conscientious about their own water use, Lowrie credited the city itself for establishing multiple ways to receive water over its 150-year history.

As of May 14, the total snowpack in Colorado was 61% of the median with drier conditions in the southern part of the state.

While the South Platte Basin which includes Longmont was 74% of average, the Arkansas Basin over Colorado Springs and Pueblo was only 28% of normal.

“It’s kind of like putting money in the bank,” Lowrie said. “The more money you have in the bank, the more you are able to withstand a long period of hard times.”

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