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Rain, rain, go away, come again anoth ... No wait, come back!

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For the past few years southern Colorado has been under a spell - a dry spell. Since Peterson Air Force Base lies within the footprint of the Colorado Springs Utilities, all Team Pete residents must abide by the water usage restrictions enacted April 1, which is no joke.

The reason for this restriction is because the rain and snow fall from the past three years has not replaced the water used by the city of Colorado Springs. However, Team Pete residents should fear not, for most of the hard work will be taken care of by Tierra Vista Communities, the organization responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of base housing.

"The intent is to save water," said John Bittner, TVC development manager. "There's a limit on how much water you can consume and the community's goal is to reduce water consumption by 30 percent for the year."

Abiding by this restriction is important, not only because overages will cost twice the traditional rate, but also in an effort to keep CSU's reservoirs, which normally maintain a two-year water supply, from being depleted to less than a year's worth of water.

CSU's restriction will limit Colorado Springs residents to watering their lawns only two days per week for 40 minutes each day; however, according to Bittner, TVC will be submitting an alternative watering plan, which, once approved, will allow TVC to water four days per week in 20 minute intervals.

"Because of the sandy soil, we want to keep the roots as moist as possible for as long as possible," said Bittner. "After 20 minutes, most of your water will be going down below the roots."

Although base residents may water potted plants, bushes and trees as they see fit, Bittner encourages residents to allow TVC to maintain the lawns through the in-ground sprinkler systems which are centrally controlled by TVC.

"The purpose is to keep the water under control," said Bittner. "We're contributing to the greater consumption reduction."

Mark Dobbs, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron landscape architect, also explained some of the measures being implemented by the 21st CES to conform to the CSU watering restrictions while also saving money and water now and in the future.

"Peterson has led the way in the Air Force for a number of years in water conservation and xeriscape applications here on base," said Dobbs. "That includes anything from using native plants to properly zoning and irrigating areas."

Dobbs also mentioned a savings project planned for fiscal year 2013 that will convert 20 acres of Peterson's spray irrigation system to a drip irrigation system. The project would be done using FY13 energy program funding, if available. The major benefit of this conversion would be a water use savings of about 50 percent, roughly four million gallons annually, since all of the water will be going directly into the ground rather than being lost to evaporation.

Additional water savings will come in the form of reduced hydrant testing this year and a project slated to begin in fiscal year 2014 which will replace approximately 10 acres of grassy areas around base with grass native to the southern Colorado region. Estimated savings from this plan are about 14 million gallons of water annually along with $125,000 in associated maintenance and water usage costs.

While TVC and the 21st CES will be doing their part to help conserve water during what looks to be another dry summer, Team Pete employees and resident are also encouraged to step up and help out by following and enforcing the established watering guidelines and procedures.

For questions or concerns regarding base housing water restrictions, contact the TVC housing office at 597-7200.

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