Like most Coloradans, we love all of the things this state has to offer. Whether you enjoy a weekend escape to the mountains, the serenity of nearby rural towns or the hustle of the thriving downtown scene, you can find nearly anything that fits with your interests and personality. Except water. Which seems strange. After all, isn’t Colorado home to the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River and more snowpack than anywhere else in the upper 48 states? Even though all of that may be true, Coloradans don’t have the rights to use all of the water that falls in our state. People in California, Arizona and other arid states have a claim to some of the water that originates here. The problem we find ourselves in has to do with how much water is falling within our borders, how much we can keep and how much we need to support our population. Spoiler alert: there isn’t enough. In fact, we aren’t even getting enough water falling within our state (that we can keep) to support the current population, let alone the projected increases in population. There are three concepts that govern Pure Cycle’s philosophy to water conservation, which may help you understand how critical this topic truly is to all Coloradans: water reuse, nonrenewable water supply and renewable water supply.
Every drop of water you’ve ever had to drink has gone through at least 1,000 kidneys. Well, that might not be true. It would be difficult to empirically state how many times water has passed through a human system before it reaches your water bottle or glass, but the concept is relevant: nature has a great way of reusing water through the hydrological cycle.
We also reuse water. As operators with a focus on conservation, it’s important for us to reuse water as much as we can while maintaining legislative compliance. The image to the right is a simple visualization of our basic water reuse policy: we obtain water through wells or diversion, treat it to safety standards, store it in collection facilities, distribute it to homes and businesses, collect the wastewater, treat the wastewater and then reuse wastewater in an irrigation capacity. If we were able to, we would even treat wastewater for reuse in homes and businesses!
By collecting, treating and reusing wastewater, we can reduce our state’s reliance on water coming from waterbodies and aquifers. As a side benefit, it’s more profitable for Pure Cycle to reuse wastewater, too.
Nonrenewable Water Supply
Before we can reuse water, we have to source it. In the semiarid plains off the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, water is usually sourced from the mountains or aquifers. Unfortunately, if you live further away from the mountains you depend more on water from aquifers than people near the foothills.
Here's what we do to help out:
- Pure Cycle applies a punitive pricing system that discourages people from overusing water. Households with higher non-irrigated landscaping (or at least Xeriscaping) exteriors and efficient indoor appliances (i.e., showers, toilets, washers and driers) are rewarded by our pricing tiers.
- Our Dual Distribution System substantially reduces the amount of water that is wasted by a traditional water system.
- Individual rain meters shut off irrigation systems in the event that natural precipitation exceeds specified amounts.
- We use the latest technology to immediately detect leaks in our distribution systems.
Renewable Water Supply
Fortunately, there are additional ways to source water other than wells. Pure Cycle has obtained water rights to divert water from Box Elder Creek, the Arkansas River and has adjudicated rights to build a reservoir in the Lowry Range. But this these sources are only a fraction of our total water supply, which emphasizes the gravity of our pursuit of water conservation.