Grant Program Supports Water Efficient Efforts 

Get funding for your landscape project, and become a partner in Northern Water’s education and outreach network 

In 2018, Northern Water launched a Collaborative Water-Efficient Landscape Grant Program to promote water-efficient, Colorado climate-friendly landscapes. This program helps expand our education and outreach efforts in the communities we serve. Grants awarded help fund new or redevelop landscapes based on the principles and best practices displayed in our Conservation Campus and Gardens. We also provide signs and other materials so the project can serve as a landscape efficiency education site. 

Who can apply?  

The program is open to new or redeveloping landscapes at public or private facilities, including cities, enterprises, non-profits, businesses, schools, multi-family complexes and HOA-managed landscapes. The facilities must be located within Northern Water’s boundaries. Utilize our maps to confirm that your project is located within our boundaries. 

Grant Amounts 

The maximum amount awarded per project in 2020 is $20,000, with a matching amount required from the applicant, which can be met with cash and/or in-kind labor contributions. A limited number of grants will be awarded, at the sole discretion of Northern Water.

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Apply for the Grant Program 

Grant Application
2021-22 Grant Program Timeline
  • Consultations for Applicants:  July 22-Sept. 30, 2021
  • Applications Accepted: Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2021 
  • Applicants Notified: Late January 2022
  • Contracts Signed/Projects Start: Spring 2022
  • Project Completion Deadline: Sept. 30, 2021

Supplemental documents are not required as part of your grant application but are encouraged as a means of enhancing your project proposal. Consider compiling the following documents to upload on the last page of your grant application:  

  • Photos of property and project area 
  • Project design drawings 
  • A site map with dimensions 
  • Cost break-down, including total in-kind services and other funding
  • 5 years of previous water-use data for the project site, if possible
  • Estimated water savings 
  • A five-year maintenance plan for the landscape (irrigation maintenance, plant maintenance, etc.)
  • Project approval from board or leadership and proof of communication with community or business equivalent
  • Proof of required permits or documentation that those processes are underway
  • Any other information pertinent to the project

If you have any questions about the grant program or application process, please contact Chad Kuhnel.

Grant Program Projects

Program Qualifications

  • At least 1,000 square feet (smaller projects may be considered if they offer unique public education opportunities)
  • Designed to use substantially less water than traditional landscapes
  • Designed to include at least 50 percent plant coverage when plants are mature

Grant Program Details

  • Grant payments will be made once the project is completed.
  • This incentive program is not retroactive. Projects underway prior to approval are ineligible.
  • Potential applicants are required to take part in a consultation at the project site with Northern Water staff prior to submitting an application.
  • Grant recipients must sign a contract agreement with Northern Water prior to starting the project. 
  • The applicant is responsible for attaining the required permits from local entities and making sure the project is in compliance with all local ordinances. 
  • Implementation of the project is the sole responsibility of the applicant.
  • Following completion, grant recipients and Northern Water must sign-off on a post-project checklist prior to receiving grant funds.
  • Hard costs (plants and materials) plus contract and in-kind labor (at Northern Water’s discretion) can qualify for matching funds. Material costs per unit must not exceed manufacturer’s suggested retail price. In-kind labor (if applicable) must be documented  and is to be valued at prevailing rates not to exceed $25 per hour.
  • Recipients must keep all original receipts to verify grant qualifications have been met. Copies of itemized receipts are required for reimbursement processing. Contractor invoices must show an itemized materials list separate from labor.
  • Incorporating third-party designations or certifications such as Audubon of the Rockies’ Habitat Hero, National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat, Audubon International and Xerces Society are encouraged. Consider becoming a Plant Select demonstration garden if applicable.
  • Contractors supporting grant projects must be horticulturalists and/or certified through one of the following organizations: Irrigation Association (CIC, CID, CLIA, CLWM), Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (SLM), National Association of Landscape Professionals, (QWEL, ASLA, RLA, PLA), or Green Building Certification Institute (SITES AP). Professionals can be found through the WaterSense “Find a Pro” tool or respective organizational websites.
  • Installation contractors shall adhere to any and all instructions for installation and maintenance of plants and irrigation per all contracted Northern Water consultants.

Landscape Requirements

  • Location: High-visibility locations will be given priority due to the educational component of this program, but all qualifying projects will be considered.
  • Plants: Must have xeric to moderate water requirements and be appropriate to Northern Colorado’s climate. Please refer to our plant list and other resources. Invasive plants, artificial plants and turf are not allowed. 
  • 50 percent plant cover: To meet the 50 percent coverage requirement, up to half of the existing tree canopy can be used. This means 50 percent plant coverage at plant maturity in the landscape. Plants outside the converted area are not considered in the calculation, even if they are adjacent to or overhang into the converted area.
  • Hardscape: Impermeable surfaces, such as concrete, that do not allow water to penetrate into the ground, are not allowed as part of the conversion area. Permeable concrete or pavers are allowed, but the 50 percent plant cover rule still applies to the entire area. 
  • Mulch: Recipients must install a minimum of 3 inches of organic or inorganic mulch. However, this requirement may potentially vary depending on the landscape design and the plant palette that will be used. 
  • Fabric: It is preferred that projects NOT include fabric directly around plants and under wood and rock mulch smaller than a half-inch.
  • Irrigation: An irrigation system is not required. However, if installed, controllers and other irrigation equipment must be WaterSense-approved (WaterSense-approved models are now state law), be well-designed and may receive an irrigation audit. Drip irrigation is preferred. Preference will be given to projects that have been previously metered, so that water savings can be monitored. As the project is implemented, separate metering of the irrigation system is preferred, if possible.