Helping Communities to Grow Water-Smart

Drew Beckwith“Providing direct assistance to Colorado communities on how to grow water-smart is helping advance model programs and ordinances. Our state can support the next five million people by having them use much less water than our first five million – and these partnerships showcase how.”

– Drew Beckwith, Water Policy Manager

Providing Technical Assistance to Colorado Land Use Leadership Alliance Graduates

In addition to teaching Colorado’s local water and land use planners the tools they need to grow water-smart (see our Land Use Planning for Water Efficiency web page), Western Resource Advocates provides technical assistance to our Land Use Leadership Alliance graduates to help them implement the lessons they’ve learned. This community assistance takes the form of free-of-charge support from expert staff and consultants.

Following Western Resource Advocates inaugural Land Use Leadership Alliance training program in 2013 with the communities of Aurora, Arvada, Castle Rock, Thornton, and Parker, we helped Arvada and Aurora with some of their specific water and land use needs.

Example: Helping Arvada in Planning for Water and Energy Efficiency

For Arvada, Western Resource Advocates produced a fact sheet on the various approaches available to put in water and/or electricity meters to multi-family residences. This allows residents in apartments and other multiple dwelling buildings to track and control their own water and electric use, which supports more water and energy conservation. We also engaged in Arvada’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan process by attending public meetings and providing formal comments. This resulted in the adoption of two policy recommendations we crafted, one on linking energy and water efficiency efforts (Policy R-4.3), and the other on conservation goals in public facilities (Policy R-5.4).

Example: Providing Aurora Consultant Support for Landscaping Regulations and Low Impact Development

For Aurora, we contracted with Clarion Associates to work with us and the City on three elements: 1) documenting changes in Aurora’s landscape regulations over time; 2) quantifying the water demands of various land use types; and 3) merging land use, water efficiency, and low-impact development practices into their planning processes. Aurora’s landscaping regulations are some of the most (if not the most) water-efficient in the state, and we were able to help the City tell its story for how those regulations came to be and why they are so effective at reducing water use in new developments. Furthermore, Aurora is basing future water demand not on per capita use, but rather on the types of land uses that are currently zoned in their comprehensive plan. Aurora is growing in ways for which they do not have existing water use data, like Transit Oriented Development around new light rail stations, and Clarion was able to provide estimates of water use for land use types that the City does not current have. Finally, Clarion and Wright Water Engineers helped design a new draft ordinance for the City in which Low-Impact Development methods for stormwater control are the default option in new development. Retaining stormwater onsite to infiltrate into the landscape rather than runoff the property through Low Impact Development techniques improves water quality because it filters the water before it enters groundwater and reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation of open spaces.

Healthy Rivers Program

Land Use Planning For Water Efficiency


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Project Staff

Drew Beckwith

Water Policy Manager