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Beware: The Water Police Are Watching

This past winter in Colorado was wet and wild. According to info compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, Telluride and Aspen set season-to-date snowfall records at the end of February, and even traditionally parched zones in southwestern Colorado collected over 150 percent of normal snow water equivalent earlier in the season. And yet our friends at Denver Water are still enforcing watering restrictions in the vast area the operation covers. Its "2008 Summer Watering Rules" warn that watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. remains strictly verboten; a first violation nets a warning, a second results in a $50 fine, a third brings a $100 penalty, and additional breaches can lead to suspension of service.

The aforementioned rules page doesn't do much to justify these regulations beyond noting that Denver is in "a semiarid climate." Turns out, though, that there's actually a decent reason for the decree.

A June 6 report by the National Weather Service's weather forecast office for Denver and Boulder points out that during the month of May, the area was splashed by 1.56 inches of liquid -- an amount .76 of an inch below the normal total. The text adds, "This marks the 7th month in a row with below normal precipitation."

Bottom line: While Colorado as a whole got drenched this winter, Denver didn't -- and the water cops know it. So sprinkle at your own risk. -- Michael Roberts

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