May 16, 2022

Integrating Water Efficiency into Land Use by Growing Water Smart

It’s no secret that Colorado is growing. Between 2010 and 2020 Colorado’s population grew by almost 15 percent – about two times the national average. Northern Colorado saw an even larger increase in population from the eight counties within Northern Water’s boundaries, experiencing a nearly 20 percent growth rate in that same period. Leading the charge in this boom were the counties of Broomfield, Weld and Larimer reporting growth rates of 32.6 percent, 30.1 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively. 

It seems the impact of this growth is evident nearly everywhere you look on the Front Range. Even a short car ride in the communities along the I-25 corridor will likely yield sightings of heavy machinery working on construction sites and signs advertising new homes. While this increase in population offers many opportunities, it also comes with challenges that must be addressed through careful, intentional planning. As communities expand and more people call Colorado home, an important question comes to mind: Will there be enough water to meet the future demand? 

Construction of new homes in street with multiple homes in various completions

Fortunately, the bright minds at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute have joined together to help answer “yes” to that question through Growing Water Smart, an innovative workshop that aims to integrate land use and water planning at the community level. Growing Water Smart was developed to bring together municipal staff, elected officials and key stakeholders to break down silos and empower communities to collaboratively work towards creating water resilience goals and the measures to meet them. Ultimately, a community’s team of five to seven individuals will leave the workshop with a detailed action plan and a commitment to take steps to ensure their community has a sustainable water future.  

Northern Water is excited to partner with the Sonoran Institute to offer a Growing Water Smart workshop to six teams of staff and elected officials from communities within our district boundaries, Sept. 12-14. After the workshop, these six teams will join the ranks of seven other Northern Water allottees to have completed Growing Water Smart including Berthoud, Erie, Greeley, Evans, Platteville, Longmont, water districts, counties and others. This video from past participants shows the value they found working together. Find the application details here and apply by June 10 for this no-cost workshop and follow-up support.