Sourdough Creek

Water tumbles over rocks as Sourdough Creek runs through Sourdough Canyon Friday, May 15, 2020, in Bozeman.

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The city of Bozeman is requesting proposals for a water conservation plan to help ensure the town has enough water as it continues to grow.

According to city water conservation specialist Jessica Ahlstrom, Bozeman gets its water from three main sources. About 40% of the town’s water comes from Hyalite Creek and Hyalite Reservoir, 40% from Bozeman Creek, and about 20% from Lyman Spring in the Bridger Mountains.

“All of those water supplies, even Lyman Spring, rely on snowpack,” Ahlstrom said. “What we get in the winter in terms of snowpack is, for better or worse, what we have to get through the summer when it’s hot and dry.”

As Bozeman continues to grow, it will need more water to meet the demand of additional residents and businesses. The city adopted a 50-year integrated water resources plan in 2013, and a major piece of that plan is finding ways to conserve water. That’s where the new water conservation plan will come into play.

“It’s time for us to look for new ways to save water, and ways that are going to be really cost effective as well,” Ahlstrom said. “We can’t create new water. All the water we have is all we’re going to get in terms of both supporting uses now, and then as we grow and for future generations.”

The city is accepting proposals from qualified consulting agencies for the new plan through June 10, but Ahlstrom said that Bozeman residents who want to be part of the solution can start thinking about water conservation now.

“There are a lot of small things residents can do to reduce their water use, especially when it comes to those non-essential outdoor uses,” she said.

The city’s Water Conservation District offers free sprinkler system assessments to help make sure people and businesses aren’t overwatering their lawns and rebate programs for toilets and other appliances that conserve water. Fixing leaks can help save a lot of water as well, she said.

Ahlstrom said about 70% of residential water use between May and September is on lawns and landscapes, so making sure sprinkler systems are working properly or adding drought-resistant plants can make a big difference in water use.

“The idea is that we reduce demand to expand the supplies we already have,” Ahlstrom said. “I think it really is the season for talking about outdoor water use.”

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.