The Aspen City Council on Monday voted unanimously to enact stage 1 water-shortage measures, with officials citing this winter’s low snowpack and drought conditions in the area.

The goal is to decrease community-wide water use, and the municipality will take mandatory conservation measures while Aspen water customers are asked to take voluntary measures. Stage 1 also includes a temporary rate increase for city water customers with high water use.

“Aspen is lucky to have an environmentally aware community that we can count on to reduce water use during this dry year,” said Margaret Medellin, the city’s utilities portfolio manager, in a press release. “The city will do its part by efficiently irrigating public spaces and being vigilant to avoid water waste. Because we have minimal water storage there are no reservoirs to call on in lean times, and it is crucial that we respond quickly to drought conditions.”

The voluntary community efforts associated with stage 1 are intended to conserve water and prepare the community for the potential of mandatory water restrictions if drought conditions worsen.

The municipality already has a robust water-conservation program that citizens can utilize for education and results-oriented actions, including: irrigation-efficiency assessments, commercial kitchen dish sprayer replacement, and water-efficiency fixtures included in energy home assessments.

A specific focus during drought conditions is irrigation, as it represents the most intensive use of water for all Aspen customers.

“We invite the community to take part in our irrigation-efficiency programs,” said Ryland French, city resource efficiency administrator. “In stage 1, we want to help homeowners and landscapers understand that you can water the right amount so your yard is beautiful without being wasteful.”

In an effort to help curtail water use in Aspen’s restaurants, the city is offering a high-efficiency dish sprayer installation program to commercial kitchens from May 29 to June 1. This program is offered free to the first 30 participants. Kitchens may reserve their free high-efficiency dish sprayer installation by emailing eh@cityofaspen.com.

For more information, contact French at 429-1969 or ryland.french@cityofaspen.com or Medellin at 429.1992 or margaret.medellin@cityofaspen.com.