Through Project Accelerator, WaterNow partners with communities and water agencies to champion sustainable, innovative water solutions. This application cycle built on the first Regional Project Accelerator, piloted last winter in Colorado. Participating communities, including Steamboat Springs, Wellington, and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, are continuing to work towards success on funding and financing sustainable water projects, developing outreach and communications strategies, and creating unified approaches to water conservation. This second round of Colorado projects will aim to build on the existing library of sustainable water project examples and resources, foster knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and lay the groundwork for innovative, regional solutions.
Today we are excited to announce four new Accelerator projects that we will begin partnering with this spring.
City and County of Broomfield, CO: Development of a Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
The consolidated City and County of Broomfield, CO, which has a population of 74,000, and is located midway between downtown Denver and Boulder, is growing rapidly, putting additional pressure on water resources. Sixty to seventy percent of Broomfield’s annual water supply is dedicated to outdoor consumption. While Broomfield is currently making considerable investments in the replacement of existing turf grass, it has very minimal code related to water efficient landscaping requirements. In this project, WaterNow Alliance and Western Resource Advocates will support Broomfield in creating a new landscape ordinance to reduce outdoor water demand in new development and redevelopment and make Broomfield’s water supply more resilient, to better withstand future droughts and climate change. The project will include developing an ordinance based on available examples and best practices from other communities, along with communication strategies to share and gather feedback on the draft from the community and key stakeholders.
Eagle River Watershed Council & Eagle County Conservation District: Water Efficient Landscape Conversion Program
Eagle County is a river-centric community, with a population of approximately 56,000, located on the Western Slope of Colorado. Its tourism and recreation focused economy is reliant upon healthy and flowing streams, and its population is predicted to double by 2050, potentially doubling water demand. Together, Eagle River Watershed Council and Eagle County Conservation District are piloting the “Beyond Lawn” Water Efficient Landscape Conversion Program, which will establish a non-functional turf replacement and irrigation upgrade rebate program, develop examples of lawn alternatives through research and demonstration gardens, and create educational opportunities to change behavior through outdoor water management practices and sustainable landscape conversion skills. This program aims to develop community outreach programs in English and Spanish, and to create programming that is accessible not only to wealthier homeowners, but also to renters and participants at all income levels. WaterNow and Western Resource Advocates will support the development of systems, work flows, and processes for the program; help identify federal funding opportunities to augment the existing budget; and lay the groundwork for a water efficiency study analyzing water consumption and savings.
Longmont, CO: Impact Analysis and Goal Development of a Non-Essential Turf Conversion Program
The City of Longmont, located in Colorado’s Front Range, is home to a population of just under 100,000. To build on and complement its program supporting residential turf replacement, the City would like to establish a data-driven target for reducing non-essential turf on city-owned property. Increasing water-efficient landscapes enable the City to decrease water demand and move towards the conservation goals outlined in its Water Efficiency Master Plan. In this project, WaterNow will draw on research and best practices from other Front Range communities, to identify and analyze potential areas for turf conversions and to calculate the potential water savings and co-benefits that could result from these projects. This analysis will generate a data-driven goal for turf conversions at publicly owned locations, helping the City budget and plan for these projects. This analysis will also inform the City of Longmont’s Water Efficiency Master Plan 2024 update.
Thornton, CO: Commercial Water Usage Benchmark Development
Thornton, CO is home to approximately 142,000 people living in Colorado’s Front Range. Currently, the City’s utility billing database does not distinguish business types within the commercial customer class, making it challenging to determine water use trends for different business types and to project future water demand. This project will provide technical support to identify appropriate water use benchmarks for businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, warehouses, car washes, and retail, to inform commercial water use analyses. WaterNow will conduct a literature review of existing commercial water use benchmarks, and work with Thornton to develop appropriate benchmarks based on the City’s billing data. In addition to helping the City better track and forecast water demand, this information could inform efforts to develop a more equitable tap fee structure.
Congratulations to the new Colorado Project Accelerator participants and thank you to all of our excellent applicants!
Looking to Future Opportunities
As always, this selection process was exceptionally challenging, as we received many strong and creative applications for support on a wide variety of projects, from efforts to support turf grass conversion incentive programs to strategies to harness the influx of federal funding opportunities. 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, and encourage communities to keep an eye out for future application rounds.
We look forward to more opportunities to build a sustainable, resilient water future with you!
Image source: Aurora Water Wise Garden.