Summit County & High Country Conservation Center, CO

Development of a Regional Outdoor Water Efficiency Program Our Approach Project Outcomes

Project Goal

WaterNow and Western Resource Advocates worked with the High Country Conservation Center and other stakeholders throughout the county to provide additional capacity and expertise to guide the development of a regional outdoor efficiency program.

Our Approach

Summit County, which features some of the most renowned outdoor recreation hotspots in the country, has finite water resources exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and an influx of seasonal tourists. Recognizing that water efficiency is their cheapest and most feasible source of new supply, in 2018, the Summit County community, with the support of five jurisdictions including the towns of Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco, the Copper Mountain Metropolitan District and local nonprofit partner– HC3, published a regional Water Efficiency Plan.

WaterNow and WRA worked with partners to put this plan into action through the development and implementation of a regional outdoor water efficiency program. The project team researched and compiled existing resources on best practices for outdoor efficiency programs, identified and conducted informational interviews with counties and cities that have adopted exemplary efficiency programs and that share similar characteristics (i.e. geography and tourism-based economies), convened stakeholder meetings, and drafted outdoor water efficiency program guidelines that incorporate outreach strategies and financing options.


WaterNow and WRA developed recommendations for the Summit County Outdoor Water Efficiency Program, focused on four key areas: irrigation audits, outdoor efficiency rebates and incentives, landscape professional certification, and education/outreach opportunities. Each program includes recommended program design and parameters, a suggested entity or entities to lead the program, outreach strategies, and a budget with identified funding opportunities.

HC3 built upon the results of this Project Accelerator to apply for funding and in 2022 were awarded a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to execute and implement their outdoor water efficiency program. With grant funding from CWCB, the Colorado River District, and other local partners including the Town of Breckenridge, Town of Frisco, and Town of Dillon, HC3 will be able to advance irrigation efficiency across Summit County through activities such as irrigation certifications for local landscapers, development of rebate programs and incentives for irrigation audits and equipment updates, and environmental education designed to drive water savings.

(photo credit: Carol M. Highsmith)

    "Project Accelerator was instrumental in jumpstarting our community’s irrigation efficiency programs. It’s more important than ever to use water wisely, and this support helped us prioritize the most impactful strategies for conserving water in our mountain resort community."
    Rachel Zerowin

    Community Programs Director , High Country Conservation Center