We are thrilled to announce that WaterNow Alliance is opening a new satellite office in Denver! As we approach our 3-year mark as an organization, we’re looking forward to this opportunity to expand our geographic presence to better serve our growing alliance membership and advance our mission of achieving high impact, widespread adoption of sustainable water solutions in communities nationwide.
Leading the way on this new endeavor is WaterNow Alliance team member, Lindsay Rogers. Lindsay has been invaluable as our Program Associate for the past two years, and we are very pleased that she will be taking on a new role as WaterNow’s Colorado Basin Program Manager, executing on projects and policy initiatives in Colorado and other Basin states. She is excited to get to work on our Colorado initiatives - and to take advantage of the State’s unparalleled outdoor activities to do as much hiking, camping, and skiing as possible! Lindsay has already relocated to the Centennial State and will be professionally in residence at the Alliance Center in downtown Denver – if you are local, please plan to be in touch.
The Colorado River Basin is in many ways the epicenter of opportunity for sustainable water management, where major challenges brought about by climate change, rapid growth and dwindling federal resources meet extraordinary environmental resources, most centrally the Colorado River, arguably the crown jewel of the West. Without question the Colorado faces an uncertain future. A recent study by the University of Arizona and Colorado State University indicates that climate change could cause Colorado River flow declines of 30% by 2050. Addressing the human and environmental needs of the Basin has never been more vital, and we believe that WaterNow will be even more effective and better positioned to work with our current partners and build new alliances as we expand our presence in the Basin.
When it comes to water, the time is always now. But we believe that, particularly with the completion of Colorado’s Water Plan in 2015, a number of WaterNow’s Colorado-facing initiatives would benefit substantially from an enhanced local presence. We’re excited to share with you a few of the projects we have underway:
Alternative Water Transfers
Colorado’s Water Plan anticipates a significant role for “farm-friendly” water transfers that avoid the permanent “buy and dry” of irrigated land while providing supplemental water for thirsty cities. These “Alternative Water Transfers,” or ATMs, are not well known or understood among local leaders yet. WaterNow’s ATM initiative is focused on providing accessible information to local water leaders about the potential for ATM agreements to provide benefits to their communities. We are developing a user-friendly Alternative Transfer Methods Primer as a guide for local leaders in Colorado that introduces the ATM concept, provides examples of communities that have adopted various ATM agreements, and identifies steps that municipal decision-makers can take to learn more about the feasibility of ATMs for their communities and to catalyze future deals.
Water Efficient Land Use Planning
WaterNow has several Colorado initiatives underway focused on maximizing the connection between water and land use planning. Planning can be sleep inducing - but we see a lot of potential to advance exciting and cost-effective strategies in this space from prioritizing efficient water use as a central element in a community’s comprehensive plan; to adopting landscape ordinances for new landscape project audits; to developing a tap fee structure to incentivize ultra-efficient plumbing. We are very pleased to be working with our friends at Western Resource Advocates to connect with Front Range communities interested in implementing these types of strategies and provide them with the resources they need to get up and running.
We’re jumping into this initiative with the City of Thornton, our WaterNow Project Accelerator Winner. Thornton is growing rapidly, nearly 70% since 2000, with no signs of slowing down and is looking to use their finite water supplies as efficiently as possible. We’ll be working with them to develop incentivizes for the installation of ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures and low-water use landscapes in new homes and businesses. You can learn more about this project here.
Qualified Water Efficient Landscaping in Colorado
WaterNow has been a leader in California in organizing water efficiency trainings for landscapers and contractors since our inception. WNA is a “Professional Certifying Organization” for the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaping Program, an EPA WaterSense labeled certification program for irrigation system audits. In addition to water audits, the curriculum covers a variety of concepts essential to water efficient landscaping including water supply and rebate programs, low-water use plant selection, soil amendments, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation controllers and scheduling. We are delighted to be able to bring this expertise to Colorado and are looking forward to expanding the program further. Lindsay had the opportunity to work with the City of Aspen in July to facilitate the first QWEL training in the State of Colorado.
You can learn more about that training here. It’s exciting to see QWEL gaining traction in Colorado and we look forward to supporting more cities and utilities as they consider adopting their own QWEL programs.
We’re looking forward to hitting the ground running in Colorado and will be sure to keep you updated on our progress. If you have any questions or comments about our new Colorado office or the initiatives listed above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Lindsay Rogers or myself.
And if you’re in the Denver- area, we’d love to meet with you to learn more about your community’s water challenges and how we can best support you. We’re based out of The Alliance Center, a mission-driven non-profit collaborative working space at 1536 Wynkoop St, Suite 914 Denver, CO 80202.