WaterNow and Western Resources Advocates (WRA) partnered with the City and County of Broomfield (Broomfield), to support their efforts to develop a water efficient landscape ordinance and associated community and stakeholder outreach. The goal of this project was to ensure Broomfield’s water supply is more resilient to better withstand future droughts and impacts from climate change.
The consolidated City and County of Broomfield, CO, located midway between Denver and Boulder, has a population of approximately 74,000. The community is experiencing rapid population growth and anticipates a more than 50 percent increase in its footprint through buildout, particularly in the undeveloped areas in the northeastern portion of the county. When the project began, sixty to seventy percent of Broomfield’s annual water supply was dedicated to landscape irrigation. While Broomfield is currently making considerable investments in the replacement of existing cool season turfgrass with waterwise and drought resistant landscaping alternatives, it had minimal code related to water efficient landscape requirements. WaterNow and WRA worked with Broomfield to develop a water efficient landscape ordinance based on available examples and best practices from other communities, conducted outreach and gathered feedback from key stakeholders and community members on the draft ordinance, and supported Broomfield throughout the City Council approval process.
In August 2023, the Broomfield City Council unanimously adopted the new water efficient landscape ordinance, which amends the Broomfield Municipal Code to be one of the strongest waterwise landscaping ordinances in Colorado. The ordinance is supplemented by a Landscape Reference Manual which contains the necessary guidelines, criteria, maps, plant lists and other provisions. In addition to supporting the passing of the ordinance by conducting research, stakeholder engagement, and reviewing the ordinance, WaterNow and WRA developed a variety of outreach and education materials, including a FAQ sheet and a Code Explainer for developers.
Notably, the updated landscape ordinance requires all new development and redevelopment (except for golf courses and multi-purpose fields) to limit turfgrass. Multi- family and single-family attached, manufactured home parks and non-residential districts are limited to 30% of the total landscaped area, with grass blends of no more than 20% cool-season grass species. Single-family detached and agricultural and estate districts are limited to a maximum of 30% of the total landscape of visible side and front yards with grass blends of no more than 20% cool-season grass species.
Broomfield’s updated landscape ordinance will be instrumental in meeting their goal of reducing total system water demand by 10% in 2040, outlined in their 2020 Water Efficiency Plan. In addition to saving water, the waterwise landscape ordinance will help lower water bills, support landscape investments, and support local wildlife, pollinators and the environment while better reflecting the native Front Range landscape.