After local leaders of the disorganized Pueblo West calculated that the incident would have wasted the equivalent of an estimated 56,252 toilet flushes, a huge and beloved Colorado water fight has been cancelled.
The annual Pueblo West Fourth of July Wet Parade – which has attracted 18,000 participants in the past and spurred local businesses – struggles with growing needs to conserve water, city officials decided in a meeting Monday night.
Members of the Pueblo West Metro District board are also imposing water restrictions for its 33,000 residents in response to drought times and insufficient supplies.
Less water than needed from the Twin Lakes Mountains Reservoir and other sources, along with “explosive development”, has caused Pueblo West to lose about 1,100 acre feet (1 acre foot = 325,851 gallons) of water each year over the past two years. . Sal, Utilities Deputy Director Jeffrey DeHerrera told board members. “That means we use more than we bring in,” DeHerrera said at the meeting. “And this year our losses are likely to exceed 1,100 acre feet.”
The city’s website still describes the parade west of the Mississippi River as America’s largest water fight. It features truck-mounted water blasters and sweeping gleeful splashes along Joe Martinez Boulevard.
But utility workers calculated that each participant would spray 5 gallons of water, about 90,000 gallons in total – the equivalent of flushing approximately 56,252 toilets.
Board chairman Kim Swearingen issued a statement saying that district staff will plan a different kind of event on July 4. “We continue to listen to citizens who are concerned about wasting water for wet parades and who have enjoyed the traditional celebration. Finding a balance between the two requests, as well as being responsible with their own water use Being that, we will be hosting Fourth of July events for the water consumption conscious to enjoy as well.
Over the years, Pueblo West’s leaders have promoted population growth, and since 2000 the population has nearly doubled—all that can sustain the available water.
Pueblo West’s website still includes an appeal for new commercial and industrial enterprises and lists dozens of properties available for development. But board members in March set water tap limits for new residential construction at 400 this year and next year, and 100 in 2024.
Chief Administrator Brian Caserta told board members that the parade was a cherished event, but because of the water pressure, as well as safety concerns and staff costs, he favored reconsidering the best interests. He suggested a future community festival “without a big water fight”.
“I know it’s going to disappoint a lot of people,” Caserta said. “I’ve enjoyed it too.”