CASTLE ROCK, Colorado (KUSA) - More than a decade of drought is forcing cities across Colorado to find new ways to conserve water.
Drought conditions persist across much of the state, even with the heavy rainfall we've seen over last couple of months.
Every corner of Colorado is facing a future with more people and less water.
Shrinking rivers and diminishing groundwater are forcing cities and towns to make changes.
A new water purification facility is up and running in Castle Rock, which allows the town to treat and reuse surface water.
As part of Castle Rock's Legacy Water Projects, the town plans to build the infrastructure to collect, treat, and reuse its own wastewater.
Currently, the town leases its treated wastewater, which is released downstream to Centennial where it is treated and reused.
"It's absolutely a critical time to be implementing stuff like this. The population continues to grow," Castle Rock Director of Utilities Mark Marlowe said.
Marlowe calls the facility's five step treatment process revolutionary.
"I think it's magical, because it's one of the most important advances in public health that the world has ever seen," Marlowe said.
Right now, Castle Rock relies mostly on non-renewable groundwater but that supply will eventually run out.
"That's why Castle Rock is doing this," Marlowe said.
The town's renewable water plant, which went online earlier this year, currently supplies 35 percent of the town's water. It will eventually expand to meet 75 percent of the town's demands.
"We hope eventually to be able to treat 12 million gallons a day through this plant," Marlowe said.
While the thought of transforming treated toilet water to tap water may leave some with a bad taste in their mouth, Marlowe says high techfilters guarantee the water is clean and safe.
In fact, he says most of today's tap water is reused.
Wastewater goes through a purification process before it is released downstream.
"Everybody lives downstream of somebody," Marlowe said.
The town expects its $22 million investment in the new plant, combined with a commitment to water conservation, will help the town save to up to $100 million over the next 20 years.
And perhaps more importantly, it'll help conserve billions of gallons of our most precious resource.
"The state continues to develop and we've got to provide for the long-term future of the residents here in Castle Rock as well as around the state," Marlowe said.
More and more communities are turning wastewater into drinking water and experts say this is a critical time.
The Colorado River's worst drought in a century is having a major impact on Lake Powell, which supplies water to neighboring states in the southwest.
NASA satellite images show a dramatic drop in water levels over the last 14 years.
Rivers and creeks across Colorado are seeing a similar drop, as demand for water continues to rise.
The latest update from the US Drought Monitor shows southwest Colorado continues to see the most severe drought conditions.
Recent rains are helping, with the drought levels shrinking each week.
That doesn't mean we can stop conserving water at home.
Simple steps, like turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and watering your lawn longer but less often, will make a big difference.
For more water conservation tips, visit: www.crconserve.com
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