News and Updates

News and Updates

How A 'Perfect Storm' Cut Off Water To This Colorado Town

The western Colorado town of Paonia ran out of water for a combined 13 days this winter. Luke Runyon/KUNC

One morning in mid-February, David Herz went to turn on the faucet in his farmhouse outside the small western Colorado town of Paonia, and nothing came out.

Herz is the president of a small water company that purchases treated drinking water from the town for him and a few of his rural neighbors. Small outages are common enough not to raise alarm. Herz started calling around to see what was happening.

"We usually average about one [outage] a year on the line," he said. "Something breaks, and you have to turn the water off. So it's not uncommon."

He quickly found he wasn't the only person with a dry tap who relies on Paonia's water. What he didn't know at that point was how long the shortage would last. From mid-February to early March, most of the town's about 1,600 water customers were issued boil notices and eventually saw their water turned off for a combined 13 days.

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