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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Aspen parks cut water use by 15 percent

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy
Aspen Public Radio

Earlier this month, Aspen city council declared a "stage one" drought. This means the city is asking residents to voluntarily cut back on irrigation and water consumption and is requiring that city government do the same.


A stage one drought in Aspen comes with a goal of reducing the use of water by 10 percent across the city. For the parks department, the first step was to eliminate one day of watering each week in most city parks. Operations manager Matt Kuhn said this will mean an immediate 15 percent reduction from last year.

On top of that, he said, the city is working on an audit of its irrigation systems and had plans to improve efficiency even before the restrictions went into place.

“We recognized that we could be more efficient in some ways, and a lot of our irrigation staff was driving those changes,” Kuhn said.

That includes updating sprinkler heads and installing weather stations at some parks to adapt watering schedules to weather conditions. Kuhn said the city is also hoping to cut back on the amount of time each park is watered by about 15 percent throughout the summer, while monitoring the health of the turf.

The Aspen golf course is also required to reduce water consumption. Director of golf Steve Aitken said they are watering at a reduced rate, which has saved 600,000 gallons in the past week.

The last time the city implemented stage one water restrictions was 2012.


Community members can alert city officials of water waste on public property by emailing WaterSave@cityofaspen.com


Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.