OURAY - The City of Ouray, with its seemingly ample water supply, is one of Colorado’s last municipal holdouts that does not use water meters, and plenty of folks here are happy to keep it that way. But action taken by the Ouray City Council on Monday, Feb. 4, was a reminder that the days of free-flowing water here may soon be over.
Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a $35,000 water efficiency grant application to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help pay for the development and implementation of a Water Efficiency Plan. The plan was mandated by the Colorado Division of Water Resources last summer, when Ouray’s water supply was called by downstream senior water users.
The ultimate purpose of the Water Efficiency Plan, according to the grant application authored by the city’s water consultant Wright Water Engineers, is to develop a program to better meter water usage and reduce future water demand through multiple steps including leak detection and repair programs; landscape irrigation programs; educational programs on water use; plumbing fixture ordinances and programs and a commitment to track and report progress and make adjustments as needed.
A recent study conducted by Wright Water Engineers showed that residential use accounts for 71 percent of Ouray’s water demand, and that residents use more water than the national average. In implementing the Water Efficiency Plan, the goal is to lower per capita water demands by at least 10 percent over the next decade.
Implementation will be overseen by City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli, Community Development Coordinator Ann Morgenthaler and Public Works Director Don Castle in coordination with Wright Water Engineers.
Rondinelli told council Monday that the Colorado Water Conservancy Board offers a well-funded grant program that could help the city pay for additional water projects down the road, from water rights augmentation efforts to hydroelectric schemes. However, Rondinelli stressed, these funds will only be made available if the city takes steps to show it is assuming more responsibility for regulating and conserving its water usage.
Like it or not, it may only be a matter of time until residents see water meters on their homes.
STILL IN HOT WATER
A committee which has been meeting on a weekly basis for the past several months to discuss pending improvements to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool hopes to engage the services of an engineering firm to complete an analysis of the hot water currently available to the Hot Springs Pool, calculate the amount of additional hot water necessary to consistently achieve desired temperatures, and evaluate options for improving the overall system. The committee will make a proposal toward this end, and present other work they have completed to date, at a work session with council on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
PLEA FOR PLOWING
Main Street business owners Bruce and Tamara Gulde called for the city to develop and implement a more effective plan for snow removal on side streets in the downtown commercial area so that there are more spaces for customers and residents to park.
Council unanimously approved an application from the Ouray Brewery LLP at 1900 Main Street for a modification of premises. This adjustment allows for expansion and facility management of the existing manufacturing area to comply with manufacturing requirements.
OCRA CHANGING OF THE GUARD
In other news, the Ouray Chamber Resort Association Board of Directors met late last month and elected new officers for 2013. Tamara Gulde (Mountain Fever Shirts and Gifts) was elected president and Brandy Ross (Switzerland of America Scenic Tour and Jeep Rentals) was elected vice president. New board members Koree Schmidt of Alpine Bank and Michelle Hanes of Citizen’s State Bank are the new treasurer and secretary, respectively. A full-day board retreat will be held next Friday to determine OCRA’s priorities for the coming year.
MULLING OVER MUNIREVS
City staff is evaluating the merits of utilizing MUNIRevs, an online municipal revenue management system which enables municipalities to analyze data and target demographics for marketing purposes. The system, used in Telluride, was a topic of discussion at last month’s Colorado Association of Ski Towns meeting. Rondinelli reported that it is a “useful tool with a lot of potential.” Next month’s Community Development Meeting in Ouray will include a MUNIRevs presentation.
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