2003 - Companies, governments contended with drought
As the region continued to endure a 300-year drought that began in 1999, businesses and residents by 2003 were reducing their water use. For some companies, that presented challenges, but many persevered.
The Business Report ran a series of stories on how companies and governments were coping with water-rate increases and implementing water-conservation efforts.
Examples of corporations joining the effort included Storage Technology Corp., which quit watering its recreation fields in 2002, much to the chagrin of employees who stood idle as company soccer and softball leagues were canceled. But the cuts reduced the Louisville-based data-storage company’s consumption of city water nearly in half, from about 33 million gallons in 2001 to about 16.5 million gallons in 2002.
Amgen Inc. found ways to reduce its water consumption by 20 percent at its facility in Longmont and 30 percent at its operation in Boulder.
IBM, the largest employer in Boulder and Broomfield counties in 2003 with about 5,000 workers, was the third-largest water user in the city of Boulder, behind the University of Colorado with its 30,000 students and about 1,400 full-time faculty members, and the city of Boulder.
IBM recycled approximately 22,000 gallons of water per day for use in cooling towers, used for air-conditioning in raised-floor areas which house computers that produce heat. The water is recycled five times before being discharged.
IBM also used untreated ditch water for irrigation and cut back on watering lawns.
IBM, like other companies, promoted employee awareness of water conservation and company-initiated programs through internal websites and guest presentations.
Construction projects were hampered in some areas. The city of Lafayette set a moratorium on the issuance of water taps for new construction.
Landscaping and nursery businesses had to cut jobs because fewer new homes were being built and new lawns and landscaping were being cut back as homeowners dealt with city-imposed watering restrictions.