Low Water Usage and Drought Tolerant Lawns and Landscape
Time-restricted watering and water cops used to police water “abusers” are not effective long-term water conservation measures. Landscapes, including established trees, are suffering and a limited amount of water is being conserved. As a result, several Colorado cities are looking at a more progressive, scientific approach to water use, known as “water budgeting”. Water budgeting is simple.
In general terms, here is how it works:
Cities determine their available water supply to determine how much is available for landscaping.
A water budget (amount of water customers can use) is allocated equitably based on their needs (number of people living in the home and the lot size or landscape area). Additional water is allowed to establish new landscapes.
Water budgets or amount of water used is tied to the plant’s needs and the weather. Then more natural precipitation, the less water needed and therefore budgeted. Established Xeriscape plants would require less water as well.
Water departments use meters to monitor and enforce water usage, instead of subjective techniques such as water cops.
- Customers are charged appropriate rates for their water use.
- Customers who are “careful users” can bank their water or receive a discount; those who exceed their budgets pay penalties.
- In drought times, water budgets are reduced. Water usage is monitored by water meters, which are more readily available and less arbitrary than humans.
The benefits of water budgeting are numerous – all customers are treated equally, the program rewards water conservation and most importantly, it’s flexible, allowing customers to use their allotted water as they desire. It also emphasizes the importance of conserving water both in and outside the home to meet the water budget goal.
The Centennial Water and Sanitation District (serving Highlands Ranch) is one of the first water districts in the state to embrace this system that drought-stricken California communities have used for years. Highland Ranch established and met its water conservation goal of 20 percent in 2003 in its first year of implementing water budgeting. Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) is an alliance of nine landscape-related trade associations representing plant care and landscape professionals who provide information and services directly to the public. As a member of GreenCO, ALCC is advocating the use of water budgeting as an equitable, long-term water conservation tool.