By Amy Weinfurter, Victoria Arling, and Georgia Beesemyer

Drumroll please…. WaterNow is excited to announce our next round of Project Accelerator partners!

Year after year, we are privileged to assist cities and water agencies in championing more sustainable, innovative water solutions through this program. This round we tried something new and launched our inaugural Regional Project Accelerator in Colorado. Many water challenges are regional in nature, and through this regional approach, we hope to not only support individual communities, but to also generate synergies between communities and utilities tackling these complex issues. By focusing on regions that share similar challenges, we can deepen connections across communities, foster knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and open the door to innovative, regional solutions.

Today we announce three new Accelerator project that we will begin working with this spring.

Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA), CO | Unified Permanent Watering Restrictions for the Roaring Fork Valley

Facing decades of drought, little to no upstream water storage, and a drier future, the Roaring Fork Watershed, a headwaters of the Colorado River, must explore all options for using less water. Outdoor water requirements vary across the different water providers within the watershed, creating communication challenges, particularly for the many residents who live and work in different jurisdictions. Water providers in the Roaring Fork Valley aim to develop unified, permanent watering restriction recommendations and a consistent message across jurisdictions to help alleviate confusion and increase compliance, thereby reducing water use and preserving water resources for the entire watershed. WaterNow Alliance and our partner Western Resource Advocates will work with the Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA), a consortium of the local governments in the Roaring Fork watershed, to develop unified permanent watering restrictions for the Roaring Fork Valley through a robust research and stakeholder engagement process.

Steamboat Springs, CO | Steamboat Springs Water Resiliency and Infrastructure Funding Strategy

The recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) presents an immense opportunity to address current and emerging needs around watershed health, infrastructure improvements, and conservation programming. WaterNow and Steamboat Springs, a community of approximately 13,000 people in Northern Colorado’s Yampa Valley, will be partnering to develop a strategic approach to maximize the use of IIJA funds. The project will research IIJA opportunities and align them with high-priority City goals, such as: forest and watershed restoration to protect drinking water sources; improving the efficiency of park irrigation systems; establishing a stormwater utility to help fund the stormwater management program; addressing water quality and temperature regulations through nature-based approaches; implementing multi-objective river restoration projects; and developing new efficient water infrastructure for low-income and affordable housing communities. This project will result in a framework that supports Steamboat Springs and other Colorado communities in navigating the new IIJA funding opportunities to advance their water infrastructure and resiliency needs.

Town of Wellington, CO | Wellington Water Conservation Campaign

The Town of Wellington is located along Colorado’s Front Range in Larimer County, and is primarily considered a suburb of the nearby City of Fort Collins. Wellington has experienced rapid population growth, roughly doubling in size since 2008, with more growth expected in the coming years. Given this population growth and its status as a bedroom community, Wellington has experienced unprecedented demands on its water resources and delivery systems, including those associated with increased water use as residents shifted to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. WaterNow Alliance will work with the Town of Wellington to create a specialized water conservation campaign which provides educational resources, including best practices, for residents. As part of the project, Wellington aims to understand the unique needs of its diverse population, including those that are primarily Spanish-speaking, homeowners associations, and fixed income groups. Creating a targeted conservation campaign with attainable goals for Wellington’s residents will impact water conservation of utility treated water, as well as related stormwater, wastewater, and non-potable irrigation systems, which will benefit the long term supply of the Town and larger region.

Congratulations to the new Colorado Project Accelerator participants and thank you to all of our excellent applicants!

Looking to Future Opportunities

This selection process was exceptionally challenging since we received many strong and creative applications for support on a wide variety of projects. If we could, we’d select every single one of them. It’s exciting to see so many utilities from across Colorado developing sustainable and innovative projects to improve their community’s water quality and quantity, as well as raising public awareness about these important issues. We look forward to adding this round of projects to the library of examples and resources available on our website.

The Summer 2022 Application Round for Project Accelerator is right around the corner, and we strongly encourage you to consider applying.

We look forward to more opportunities to build a sustainable, resilient water future with you!

Photo by Derek Baumgartner on Unsplash.

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