Manitou Springs Residents Warned of Pending Water Restrictions

Council accepts second official resignation in three weeks

Gabriel Paulson

For the second time in three weeks, the Manitou Springs City Council has accepted a resignation.

The first came in late March when Police Chief Brian Churchill, who has been in the position since 2019, resigned following several weeks of being on administrative leave under circumstances shrouded in secrecy under what council continued to call an administrative matter. The second came April 6 as Ward One Council Member Susan Wolbrueck submitted her resignation in lieu of attendance at the April 6 meeting.

Wolbrueck was first elected in 2017 to represent Manitou Springs’ Ward One, which covers the southern portion of the city. The city is now seeking interested individuals to serve the remainder of her term, which is set to expire in 2022. The reasons for her resignation were given as a death in the family and she requested privacy during these difficult times. Mayor John Graham announced her resignation following the April 6 council meeting after receiving a brief email from Wolbrueck.

In another major announcement, the council warned of forthcoming water restrictions due to pending drought forecasts for the upcoming summer, along with smaller than normal snowfall totals on Pikes Peak and an overly dry winter. Manitou Springs has now defined four levels of water-use restrictions heading into the tourist season. These restrictions are being  imposed too because of the current water levels in the city reservoir.

Within the past 10 years, water restrictions were imposed in 2011 and again in 2018.

According to Water Superintendent Russ Mills, Level 1 restrictions will be imposed if the water in the reservoir ceases to spill over the top. This level will limit all outdoor watering to two hours per day three days a week with even numbered addresses, including unnumbered addresses south of Manitou Avenue, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That would allow odd numbered addresses including unnumbered properties north of Manitou Avenue to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Under these guidelines, watering will be restricted to 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the designated days, although drip irrigation would be allowed at any time, as well as hand watering using an attended hose equipped with a shut-off valve. Pools and hot tubs could be filled on permitted days.

All washing of vehicles, houses, sidewalk, awnings and decks would be allowed provided the user had a hose with a shut-off valve.

Mills said Level 2 restrictions will be imposed if the reservoir falls below one foot from the top. Under Level 2, outside watering will be restricted to Tuesdays and Saturdays for even-numbered addresses and Wednesdays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.

Levels 3 and 4 are more restrictive and Level 4 completely prohibits outdoor watering. These two levels have never been imposed in Manitou Springs, according to Mills. Level 3 will be imposed if the level of the reservoir drops to two feet below the top.

“We are already at a disaster level at Level 3,” Council Member Judith Ward said. “At Level 4 everything will die.”

Mayor John Graham said that action would already be taken by the city before Level 3, as restrictions would become a reality. He added that Manitou Springs can purchase water from Colorado Springs, which would be one costly option.

Manitou Springs could enact Level I water restrictions as early as May 1.

Manitou Grant Awards

In other Manitou Springs news, The Manitou Arts Culture and Heritage Foundation was granted approval to award $150.103 to various projects. Of the total amount, the Carnegie Library will receive $41,278 and the Hiawatha Gardens Project will also receive $41,278. The remaining funds will go to a variety of projects that submitted grants, including Manitou School District 14, Manitou Farm and Art Market, Commonwheel Artist Co-Op, and Manitou Music Foundation, among others.

The city council will also take a second look at building an art and fitness facility known as the Keith Haring Fitness Court. It is designed to be a 32-foot by 32-foot concrete slab that will be located in either Schreyver Park, Memorial Park or Fields Park. It is sponsored by the National Fitness Foundation and Manitou Springs is one of only 10 cities selected to apply out of the 100 that submitted a proposal. Because there is a huge commitment to concrete and the scope of the project has changed somewhat since initially discussed, the subject will come up in a future council meeting and public hearings will be conducted before any final decisions are made.

Parking meters have been installed along the stretch of Manitou Avenue where parking has traditionally been free, including all areas from the Highway 24 overpass to City Hall. The meters are centrally located as pay-to-park kiosks and signs have been installed along the avenue. Although the first 30 minutes of parking will continue to be free, rates for an hour will increase by 25 cents at all meters in town. This is all part of the city’s mobility improvement plan, as are newly installed crossing signs at major intersections throughout town.