Greeley’s Water Conservation Program is not afraid to try new things. That’s one reason why it is a leader among Colorado water utilities in implementing effective conservation programs.
Changing a water rate structure is a massive endeavor, but Greeley pulled it off in 2017 after several years of research and testing. Being just the third utility in Colorado to adopt a water budget “It took us a while, but we wanted to get it right,” said Ruth Quade, Greeley’s Water Conservation Coordinator.
Other cities use water as a cost threshold, but Greeley leaders thought that approach wasn’t fair. “It’s all about efficiency,” Quade said. “Someone with a large lawn, could be efficient and use the same amount of water as someone overwatering a small patch of grass. It is the same amount of water, but one person is being efficient, and one person is not.” The program also does not penalize large families.
Greeley’s history of conservation is deep—the first watering restrictions were in place by 1907. With the new water budget, those restrictions, for the most part, went away. “Most people have stayed within their budgets, so we think this approach is working,” Quade said. And to help, Greeley provides incentives such as showerhead exchanges, indoor water efficiency audits, and rebates.
Greeley’s conservation program relentlessly promotes low-water landscaping, known as Xeriscape. “It gets a bad rap since many people are still under the impression it is just gravel, cactus and yucca,” Quade said, “not realizing that it can be lush, colorful and beautiful. We work hard to bust that myth.”
One way to experience Xeriscape is to visit Greeley’s garden at 2503 Reservoir Road. The garden attracts pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. “Most people think it’s pretty when they drive by, but walking through it is when people begin to appreciate the full extent of its beauty,” Quade said. Supplemental programs like the very popular landscape lecture series, Garden In A Box plant sale, a plant database and much more, enhance Greeley’s efforts.
Greeley’s irrigation audit program is also very popular. It began in 2001 and in 2007 a full-time Water Conservation Specialist was hired to take the program to the next level. In addition to free advice and irrigation education, post-audit rebates are available to help fix issues found during the audit. “This program has been a success because of the high level of personalization,” Quade said.
There’s more to come. This year, a cash-for-grass pilot project is underway, and a successful rain barrel and compost bin sale occurred in May. Greeley’s conservation professionals are also developing ways to expand the water budget to other types of water users, including HOAs and multifamily residents.
Greeley’s Award-Winning Water
Learn more about Greeley’s high-quality, award-winning water in the 2018 Greeley Unexpected campaign.