Parched land­scapes beg for wa­ter re­lief

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kieran Nicholson Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822, kni­chol­son@den­ver­ or @kier­an­ni­chol­son

Un­sea­son­ably warm, dry and sunny weather has taken root in Den­ver and along the Front Range, where lawns are look­ing parched and some res­i­dents are itch­ing to wa­ter.

The high tem­per­a­ture in Den­ver on Satur­day is ex­pected to hit 82 de­grees, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice, which would match a 1907 record for March 18.

Sun­day’s weather in Den­ver is ex­pected to be the same — dry and climb­ing into the 80s — and while lo­cal tem­per­a­tures will back off into the 70s next week, the weather will re­main rel­a­tively warm and dry un­til mid-week.

The temp­ta­tion to crank up the au­to­matic lawn sprin­kler sys­tem is at a fever pitch, but wa­ter of­fi­cials and ex­perts sug­gest rolling out the hose and wa­ter­ing by hand in­stead.

“It’s not time to panic and turn on your sprin­kler sys­tem. Your yard is do­ing just fine,” said Travis Thomp­son, a Den­ver Wa­ter spokesman.

Thomp­son rec­om­mends hand wa­ter­ing at this time of year, and giv­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to shrubs, bushes and trees.

The moun­tain snow­pack wa­ter sup­ply, stoked by above-av­er­age snow in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, re­mains above av­er­age for this time of year, Thomp­son said.

Cur­rent wa­ter sup­ply for most Front Range res­i­dents isn’t low or crit­i­cal, de­spite cur­rent drought and drought-like con­di­tions parch­ing lower-ly­ing el­e­va­tions of east­ern Colorado.

Den­ver Wa­ter, which typ­i­cally sets wa­ter re­stric­tions dur­ing the sum­mer, does not have any cur­rent wa­ter­ing re­stric­tions.

The Colorado State Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion rec­om­mends win­ter wa­ter­ing dur­ing ex­tremely dry stretches — the first day of spring is March 20 — of about 10 gal­lons of wa­ter for each inch of tree trunk di­am­e­ter once or twice per month and any­where from 5 to 18 gal­lons per month for shrubs. Wa­ter only when air and soil tem­per­a­tures are above 40 de­grees and where there’s no snow on the ground.

Mean­while, the Weather Ser­vice has is­sued a “Fire Weather Watch” for a widerang­ing area of Colorado along the south­ern Front Range, in­clud­ing Wood­land Park and Colorado Springs, south to Trinidad, east to La Junta and west to West­cliffe. Pue­blo and Cañon City are un­der the fire watch.

In Colorado Springs, manda­tory burn re­stric­tions are in place, in­clud­ing no recre­ational fires, no smok­ing in city parks and open space, and no pre­scribed burns.

In Gree­ley on Fri­day, a planned ditch burn got out of con­trol and fire­fight­ers were called to ex­tin­guish the blaze. The fire, which sparked at about 11:30 a.m. in the 400 block of North 35th Ave., burned about 3 acres.

Gree­ley, which is “un­der se­vere drought con­di­tions,” ac­cord­ing to the city’s fire mar­shal, has also posted fire re­stric­tions. Open burns with­out a per­mit, or vi­o­la­tions of burn per­mit con­di­tions, may re­sult in tick­ets, fines and court ap­pear­ances.

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