Archive for July, 2013

Saving water in your home


Bell Plumbing & Heating Company owners Gary Bell (left) and Larry Bell

Bell Home Solutions owners Gary Bell (left) and Larry Bell

Gary Bell is owner of Bell Home Solutions and a master plumber. Bell Home Solutions is a fourth generation family-owned company, and has been serving the Denver metro area since 1926.

Saving water in your home

When the summer heat peaks in July and August, we tend to use our water supply more often; whether it’s to stay hydrated, keep cool with showers or wash clothes and linens. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your home is using water efficiently. Wasted water during the summer not only affects your water bill, but also your community and surrounding environment.

So, how can you reduce the amount of water that you use indoors this summer? Let’s take a look at a few ways:

Fix your leaks

Dripping faucets, running toilets, leaky showerheads — all of these can combine to pose serious water waste issues in your household. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that leaks in a single home can account for up to 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. That’s enough to fill an entire swimming pool! A single faucet that leaks one drip per second can account for more than 2,083 gallons wasted.sink

Fixing leaks is critical to maintaining water conservation in your home, but it has other benefits as well. A leak is a sign that something is broken; the sooner it is fixed, the better chance you have of minimizing a major repair or replacement within your plumbing system.

Install water-efficient products in your home

Another way to take control of how much water you use in your home is by installing water-efficient products. Look for products that have the WaterSense label. An offshoot of the EPA, WaterSense is a national program that has done for water efficiency what Energy Star has done for major appliances. It provides a way for consumers and contractors alike to distinguish water-efficient products. Here are some options you can take advantage of:

  • High-efficiency toilets. Each toilet in your home comprises about 30 percent of your water usage. If your toilet was manufactured before 1992, then it is highly inefficient. With a new WaterSense labeled model, you could reduce your water usage to 1.28 gallons per flush or less without sacrificing performance. This is even better than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. You can save anywhere between 20 and 60 percent for many homes, which amounts to more than $110 per year in water costs and $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilet.
  • Low-flow showerheads. Showering accounts for about 17 percent of water consumption in the average residential household, which is about 40 gallons per day. Standard showerheads use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while WaterSense low-flow showerheads cut that by 20 percent to 2.0 gpm. Not only could this save you about 2,900 gallons per year, but it will also substantially cut down on the energy needed to power your hot water supply, about 370 kilowatt hours of electricity per year for the average household.

One of the benefits of using WaterSense products is getting a rebate from Denver Water. At Bell Home Solutions, we work directly with Denver Water to make sure our customers maximize their water conservation and efficiency rebates. While water conservation efforts are typically directed at outdoor water usage, such as irrigation control, it’s important to take your indoor water consumption into account as well.

Youth movement

In honor of Project WET’s 16th Annual Water Education Conference in Denver this year, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper proclaimed August 5–9 as Water Educator Week.

As a proud sponsor of this event, Denver Water was asked to write a guest post for the Project WET Foundation. Matt Bond, Denver Water’s youth education manager, was just the man, and wrote about the importance — and difficulty — of educating people about the entire story of water.

Matt Bond, Denver Water's youth education manager

Matt Bond, Denver Water’s youth education manager

Read the entire post here.


  • Sure, in elementary school, most students learn the natural water cycle. But there’s no catchy ditty that teaches the urban water cycle or the drinking water treatment process. You don’t hear kids on the playground singing, “Flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection” to the tune of The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round.
  • As the subject of water rises in public consciousness, and in political and social circles, the importance of educating youth about water is all the more critical. It’s just as important for students to know where their shower water comes from and where it goes as it runs down the drain as it is to understand the reason ice floats. But how do we do that if we don’t really know ourselves?
  • That’s where utilities come in, whether they are governmental or private, urban or rural, small or large. Or, whether they manage potable, waste or storm water. They can all help tell the parts of the story that are hardest to see. The parts underground, behind walls. The smelly parts, too.

Join the conversation – Landscape 2030

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, once said, “Anyone who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel prizes — one for peace and one for science.”

Landscape 2030Decades later, water is an ever-present issue locally, nationally and internationally. So, what do our local experts have to say? You can find out – and add your perspective – at Landscape 2030, an event that brings together diverse viewpoints from community leaders who will discuss their vision for water in the West.

Enjoy this free event at the Denver Botanic Gardens and join in on the discussion about:

Smart growth: “In addition to the challenges we face, such as climate change, droughts, wildfires, economic uncertainties and more, we are headed toward a Front Range of 5 million people. As the water provider to more than a million people in the Denver metro area, we must plan 50 years into the future. We need to think about the nexus of smart growth – urban densification – and water use. The idea of building up, not out, will only intensify in the future, and will help to stretch the water supply.” —Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO

Agricultural vs. urban water use: “Denver’s water supply system does not operate in isolation from Colorado’s water economy, which has long passed from its ‘expansionary phase’ in which new supplies were abundant and relatively inexpensive into what might be called its ‘mature phase,’ in which few new options exist and development costs are rapidly escalating.  As this situation has evolved, water users, both urban and agricultural, find their systems physically linked and their economic activities interdependent. Both urban and agricultural water use is more efficient now than it was 20 years ago and will be more efficient still 20 years from now. In the future, the links among users will make it possible to share water in ways that to continue to support a growing economy, a vital urban landscape, and a flourishing agricultural sector.” —Dan Luecke, hydrologist and environmental scientist

Replacing bluegrass: “The homebuyer is ready to accept homes and landscaping that feature water demand reduction as part of a water sustainable lifestyle. We have found that landscaping that incorporates sustainable practices is very attractive and acceptable to the new home buyer. Our research is also finding that edible landscaping or home gardening is truly a trend and not a fad and we are seeing it implemented in many venues.” —Harold Smethills, managing director of Sterling Ranch LLC

Climate change: “We’ve been monitoring our climate here in the Denver area with thermometers and rain gauges for more than 140 years and that has taught us a great deal. While our climate follows the basic rhythm of the seasons, no two years are ever the same.  Looking ahead to 2030, if what we think we know about our climate is at all close to the truth, we’ll have more hotter days in the years to come and fewer cold days. Winters will not be harsh, but water supplies will be tenuous at times. Take photos of our landscapes today and then look at them again in 2030. We’ll be surprised at how much things change even with only modest changes in the climate.” —Nolan Doesken, state climatologist

Sustainability: “Water is the critical issue for the next century not just for the Rocky Mountain West but the entire world. We have the opportunity in Colorado to pave the way and show a new type of balance and long-term sustainability.” —Brian Vogt, Denver Botanic Gardens CEO

Be part of the conversation!

What: A discussion facilitated by Denver Botanic Gardens CEO Brian Vogt, with panelists Jim Lochhead, Dan Luecke, Harold Smethills and Nolan Doesken.

When: Wednesday, July 31, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Denver Botanic Gardens, Mitchell Hall, 1007 York Street (Directions)

RSVP necessary: This free event is open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to

Transforming Infrastructure– the need and possibility of sustainability

Your Water Colorado Blog

Those pipes, pumps, dams, treatment plants and other water infrastructure that deliver and supply our water are facing pressure as they age and populations grow both in Colorado and across the county. The newest report from the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, Catalyzing the Transformation of U.S. Water Infrastructure, discusses making needed advances in water infrastructure in a sustainable way, and in a way that allows cities to better adapt to a changing climate.

As opportunities to upgrade or revamp systems arise, decision makers would be wise to consider the  need to adapt to both acute, episodic events (e.g., natural or man- made disasters) as well as slow,  chronic trends (e.g., population growth or decline, drought). The application of triple-bottom-line  analytical methods that consider environmental, economic and social outcomes can help decision makers determine a robust picture of the best water infrastructure solutions for their utility or  community and help…

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Morning routine

When you wake up, do you flush the toilet, brush your teeth, take a shower or make coffee? These simple tasks are embedded within our daily routines and all have one thing in common: water.

The average Denver Water residential customer uses 85 gallons of water a day, but when the faucet is on, most of us probably don’t think about the vast collection, treatment and distribution system that turns mountain snow into fresh drinking water.Journey of water

Since its inception March 26, this blog has focused on every step of Denver Water’s drought response.  And, this will continue. But as we move forward, we also want to take you behind the scenes to learn more about Denver Water’s history and the work we are doing to ensure there will be an adequate supply of clean, reliable water well into the future.

Plus, there’s much more to water than just drinking it. From recreation and the environment to youth education and outreach, Denver Water is part of your community.

So, the next time you turn on the water to brush your teeth or take a shower, first follow these indoor conservation tips, and then let us know if a question pops up in your head about water in the West, and we’ll address it here on Mile High Water Talk.

What’s going on?

For the past two years, drought has dominated the water news headlines in the West.

And, even though late-season moisture, coupled with a decrease in customer water use, helped reduce the severity of the current water supply situation for Denver Water, this topic is still the forefront of conversations across the entire state and region – for good reason.

In studio (from left) - Tom Cech, Jim Lochhead and Rik Sargent

In studio (from left) – Tom Cech, Jim Lochhead and Rik Sargent

But, what else is going on in the world of water?

In an effort to turn the complexities of water in the West into a dialogue for the general public, Language of Rivers radio host Rik Sargent and Tom Cech, director of One World One Water at Metropolitan State University, sat down for an interview with Denver Water CEO/Manager Jim Lochhead.

This hour-long conversation includes discussions on rates, tap vs. bottled water, wildfires, climate change, environmental concerns, population growth, agreements and, of course, drought.

You can listen to the interview here:


Because it’s an hour of content, we’ve called out some highlights, to make listening easier:

6:30 – What you’re paying for

9:45 – Conservation plan & drought

Note: this was recorded in April, before drought restrictions were modified. The discussion includes drought pricing, which never went into effect. 

15:20 – Fires in our watersheds & climate change

32:40 – Policy for more density

45:00 – Planning for the future through conservation, recycled water & new supply

48:00 – Colorado River Cooperative Agreement

Fireworks, hot weather, picnics and smart irrigation? You bet!

Lowell Kauhfold

Lowell Kauhfold

By Lowell Kauhfold, President, CPS Distributors

Ah, July. Fireworks, picnics, hot temperatures and yes, smart irrigation! For the second year in a row, Gov. Hickenlooper has proclaimed July as Smart Irrigation Month in Colorado – and in 2013, both Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Greeley Mayor Tom Norton join the governor in proclaiming July as Smart Irrigation Month.

Smart Irrigation Month was created in 2005 by the Irrigation Association to raise awareness about efficient watering. July is the peak use month for outdoor watering and the perfect time to focus on efficient watering practices.

Colorado will always have drought cycles and water shortages, but you can train your landscapes to use less water by making simple changes to your sprinkler system and watering practices to use less water and still keep your yard healthy. Here are easy ways to be a smart irrigator:

  • Prior to watering, check the moisture in the soil. An easy way to check soil moisture is by inserting a screwdriver in the soil. If it is easy to push in, you don’t need to water.  If the screwdriver is hard to insert, water your landscape.
  • *Don’t water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. – watering during the cooler times of the day reduces the water lost to evaporation.
  • *Repair a leak or broken sprinkler head immediately.
  • *Water the plants – don’t waste water by watering the sidewalk, patio or street.
  • *Don’t water when it’s windy or raining, and consider investing in a rain sensor that will turn your sprinklers off when it rains. These cost less than $100.
  • Pay attention to the difference between the sunny and shady areas of your yard. The shady areas can be watered less if the soil stays damp.
  • Invest in an upgraded “smart” controller (and apply for your rebate from Denver Water for weather-based smart controllers with rain sensor and other irrigation equipment!)
  • Convert non-turf areas with plants or flowers to drip irrigation, one of the best ways to water deeply and to eliminate evaporation.
  • Plants actually do better when they are only watered when they need it. Rain or cooler temperatures might mean you can water less via your hose or sprinkler system.
  • Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to decrease supplemental water requirements.

Denver Water note: These fall under Denver Water’s annual watering rules.

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