Eagle River Coalition & Eagle County Conservation District, CO

Beyond Lawn Water Efficient Landscape Conversion Program Our Approach Project Outcomes

Project Goal

WaterNow Alliance (WaterNow) and Western Resource Advocates (WRA) partnered with the Eagle County Conservation District (ECCD) and Eagle River Coalition (ERC) to develop and launch the “Beyond Lawn” Water Efficient Landscape Conversion Program, which offers turf replacement and irrigation system upgrade rebates for Eagle County landowners and Homeowners Associations (HOAs). This project aimed to 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. As Eagle County faces an increasingly variable water supply, the Beyond Lawn Program is one step towards reducing water demand and maintaining a sustainable supply into the future. This program is designed to reduce landscape water use, save property owners’ money on their water bills, and have a long-lasting, positive impact on the natural environment by preserving return flows in streams.

Our Approach

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 for both summer and winter activities. Eagle County’s population is predicted to double by 2050, potentially doubling water demand and further causing a strain on the community’s existing water resources. In the face of an increasingly variable water supply, the Eagle County Conservation District (ECCD) – a branch of the state government created under the Colorado Soil Conservation Act – and the Eagle River Coalition (ERC) – a local nonprofit that advocates for the health of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River watersheds through research, education, and projects – seek to reduce water demand in the community in order to maintain a sustainable supply in the future.

Historically, turf and irrigation rebates throughout the county were only available to customers residing within the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle River Water Authority boundary (e.g., Vail, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Morningstar, Wildridge, Edwards, Cordillera, and Wolcott), rendering the remaining communities in the county (e.g., Eagle, Gypsum, Red Cliff, Minturn, among others) ineligible. Beyond Lawn is a new program that removes this barrier and provides rebates to Eagle County landowners and HOAs that reside outside of the ERWSD and UERWA service area.

A main program goal is to remove and replace at least 90,000 square feet of high-water-use turfgrass with climate appropriate landscaping within the three years. WaterNow and WRA supported the design and implementation of this program through a multi-phased approach.


Beyond Lawn Rebates:

Turf Replacement Rebate

  • Incentives to replace lawns with low-water use landscapes
  • $1.44 – $2.44 per square foot (dependent on location)

Irrigation System Rebates

  • Incentives to upgrade or replace irrigation systems with new technologies and Smart Controllers
  • 50% match to upgrade irrigation systems (up to $1,000); and,
  • $100 off Smart Controllers

Unlike many other landscape incentive programs in the state, Beyond Lawn is comprehensive, including not only turf and irrigation system rebates, but also:

  • Workshops and educational events,
  • Tools, resources, and educational materials,
  • Waterwise demonstration gardens, and,
  • Step-by-step guidance for program participants from start to finish.

Additionally, to be eligible for the rebates all landowners must enroll and complete a landscape and irrigation evaluation at their property. These evaluations gather data and observations on how landscaping is currently being watered, flag potential irrigation inefficiencies, estimate the water and cost savings potential, and make recommendations as to projects and actions that can achieve the landowners’ landscaping and water-saving goals. These evaluations are a required first step in the Beyond Lawn program, cost $100, and are completed by a team of certified professionals in about 2 hours.

In fall 2023, the Beyond Lawn program officially launched the first round of landscape and irrigation evaluations. Twenty-five landowners received these evaluations, and more are expected to participate when the evaluations resume in the spring and summer of 2024 and throughout the life of the program.

Photo by Rebekah Blocker on Unsplash