Time to fix winter water woes in Ouray

atodd's picture

The Ouray Ice Park had to close for the season last week. A statement from the folks who run the Ice Park said the recent warm-up of temperatures in Ouray, coupled with the extended warm weather outlook, pointed toward their inability to keep what ice they had in good, safe condition.
Last year the Ice Park stayed open a month and a half longer than this year, closing on March 20. As we reported in early March 2016, sections of the park did not receive the amount of water the ice farmers would have liked, so there was less ice than desired. This year, there was even less water available to make ice.
Weather, lack of ice and a lack of an "ice box" effect played a role this year. It's certainly not all attributable to the weather. Last year in February, for instance, there were eight days in Ouray in the 40s, 13 days in the 50s and one day in the 60s. Pretty much like this year.
The challenge is having more water available earlier in the season, to build up the ice as fast as possible during colder periods. But it's a Catch-22, for sure.
The more popular Ouray becomes in the winter, the more people stay in town in hotels, motels and VRBOs and AirBnBs. The more people, the more water usage, which limits water availability for the Ice Park.
Maybe the time has come for the City of Ouray to install water meters at all properties and charge for actual usage. Include with this a rebate or incentive program to install water-saving shower heads, faucets and toilets, and to properly insulate pipes.
One can't expect the Ice Park, a solid winter economic driver for the city, to continue to be viable if the very residents and businesses dependent on its survival don't do all they can to conserve the most valuable commodity needed: water.
Gallon after gallon can be saved all winter, and summer, too, by upgrading fixtures and habits as wasteful as running water all night so that pipes, which could be insulated instead, don't freeze.
Paying for incentives and rebates is always a challenge. Perhaps the Ice Park can strike a deal with the city.
Maybe it's time for the Ice Park to start charging admission. It could turn over the admission fees to the city, and the city could match the money and offer it back to residents and businesses in the form of a rebate for those who take measures to save water. To those businesses and residents who are already compliant with water-saving fixtures, let them get a one year waiver on having a meter installed.
Just some ideas, but it's going to take some creativity. Because with lack of ability to cloud seed, Ouray's going to have to learn to do more with what water it has.


Spring Training baseball has begun. The smell of fresh grass, the promise of long summer days and men playing a boys’ game. I noticed one pitcher on my favorite team didn't make it to Spring Training. He's going to be out for six weeks because he fell through the roof of his barn and injured himself.
What's a multi-million dollar pitcher doing on the roof of his barn just days before he's due to report to Arizona? No telling. But he's not the first baseball player to suffer a strange injury.
Ricky Henderson once missed several games due to frostbite…in August. He fell asleep with an ice pack on his foot.
Atlanta pitcher Cecil Upshaw missed the entire 1970 season after getting his ring caught in an awning while simulating a basketball dunk.
Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer George Brett once broke his toe while running from the kitchen to the television.
Cleveland Indians rookie Jason Kipnis strained his hamstring while doing stretches designed to avoid strained hamstrings.
Reliever Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder after watching a motivational speaker who advocated he try to rip a phone book in half.
Clarence Blethen was injured in 1923 sliding into second base. He forgot that his false teeth were in his back pocket and he bit himself in the behind.
Pitcher Jamie Easterly was sidelined after hurting his back running backwards as part of his new workout regimen. He forgot to look for gopher holes.
Pitcher Randy Johnson dislocated his thumb putting on his socks and spent six weeks on the disabled list.
Finally, some guys just can't make it to sunny Spring Training weather fast enough. Carl Pavano was shoveling snow and fell on the shovel, the handle jamming his abdomen. He thought nothing of it until four days later he had excruciating pain, went to the doctor and found he had lacerated his spleen and had been bleeding internally since the injury. He had six and a half liters of blood drained from his chest.
All of which makes the great Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby one of the smartest ball players of all time. When asked what he does in the winter, he said, “When there's no baseball…I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at 970-325-2838 or atodd@ouraynews.com.