Area of Focus
Chelsea’s work focuses on reducing municipal water demand in the face of climate change, drought, and population growth through state and local policies, education, and direct technical assistance.
She conducts research to develop and evaluate state-level municipal conservation policy initiatives. Additionally, she collaborates with partners in Colorado and Utah to support local governments in integrating water and land use planning to realize their water efficiency, smart growth, watershed health, and drought resilience goals through interactive Growing Water Smart workshops. She also provides technical assistance to communities implementing land use and water planning integration projects.
Inspired by her father who works to expand access to electric bicycles, Chelsea pursued a career that benefits the environment. Prior to joining WRA in 2022, she worked with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System to survey Western land and water planners on their drought information needs. She also worked with Colorado State Representative Lisa Cutter on water-related legislation during the 2022 legislative session.
In 2022, she authored a WRA report highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of artificial turf. Artificial landscaping has become increasingly popular as communities seek low-water alternatives to lawns. In her report, she found that artificial turf can in fact worsen the West’s water challenges by requiring large amounts of water for cooling on hot days, increasing stormwater runoff, hindering groundwater recharge, and leaching harmful chemicals. She recommended that communities instead consider landscaping with native and drought-tolerant plants to conserve water and provide other environmental benefits. Her report was featured on a podcast, where it caught the attention of a planning commissioner in Salt Lake City who presented her findings to the city’s planning commission, which made recommendations to ban artificial turf in the city’s landscaping code.
Chelsea is certified as a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper. She also serves on the newsletter committee at Colorado Waterwise, a professional society for water utilities and water professionals in Colorado.
- Bachelor of Science in International Studies with an Environmental track from New College of Florida
- Master in Environmental Policy from University of Colorado, Boulder
Favorite thing about the West
Basking in a snow-melt fed stream on a hot summer day.