Water Efficiency Master Plan
Conservation is a water supply
Castle Rock Water has seen a water savings of more than 20% since establishing a mix of conservation programs and we thank our community for their support in attaining this remarkable achievement.
Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) through the Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning requires that water providers with total demand of 2,000 acre-feet per year (AF/yr) or more develop and implement plans that encourage customers to use water efficiently. The plan will cover the steps taken and an estimate of the amount of water that has been saved. The plan should be updated at least every 7 years. Castle Rock Water’s 2015 Water Efficiency Master Plan (WEMP) is being updated in 2022.
The WEMP outlines how conservation is a viable method to extending water supply. Conservation is one avenue in water supply and the Water Resources Strategic Master Plan addresses additional long-term water supply sources. The WEMP focuses on demand-side activities, such as education, rates, rebates, audits and regulations. This plan also solidifies the Town’s commitment to efficient water use and conservation. Other plans that address conservation include the Water Use Management Plan and the Drought Management Plan.
Effective management of the community’s resources is good environmental and financial stewardship. Continuing to be a leader in conservation and efficiency has the potential to save the customers and community tens of millions of dollars in renewable water investments over the next thirty years. For instance, 18% conservation could save the community approximately $56 million to over $72 million in future investments.
- The Town has a population of 78,000 in 2022, and is consistent with the projected timeline of coming from 56,600 in 2015 to doubling by 2055.
- The Town has 300 days of sunshine, receives less than 15 inches of precipitation each year and is in a high mountain, semi-arid environment.
- The Town’s water supply and demand forecasting model projects a demand of 15,400 acre-feet to serve a population of 105,200 people in 2050. If the community can conserve 18% of that future demand, the demand will decrease by 1,610 acre-feet.
- Soon after implementation of the 2006 Water Conservation Master Plan, the Town decreased its water consumption from 165 gallons per capita daily (GPCD) to 135 GPCD. The current 5-year average consumption rate is 118 GPCD with a goal of 100 GPCD by 2055.
- In 2017, eighty-seven percent of the Town’s water was pumped from the deep groundwater wells; in 2021, 33 percent was from renewable water sources, including indirect potable reuse. The goal is to reach 75% or more by 2050.
- The overall primary water users are residential accounts, using 68% of demand. However, individual high water use accounts include public parks, HOAs and one large commercial facility.
- Almost half of the 3.2 billion gallons of water consumed each year (2021 statistic) in Castle Rock goes toward outdoor irrigation.
Approximately 25 strategies were implemented or expanded over the past 7 years. These are the most impactful.
1. Water Budget Rate Structure Changes
Implemented in 2009, this billing structure promotes water conservation through a tiered rate system that rewards conservation and charges respectively more for consumption. In 2020, the water budget rate structure for non-residential customers was adjusted for actual plant material and irrigable area. An adjustment for residential customers is currently being evaluated. Residential customers that remove turf with a SmartScape/ColoradoScape rebate do have their budget adjusted accordingly.
2. SmartScape Landscape Renovation Program Expansion to Non-residential Customers
In 2018, this rebate (now called ColoradoScape) was extended to non-residential customers and has accounted for the removal of almost 200,000 sq. ft. of turf on commercial and HOA spaces with an average 29% water savings per account retrofitted.
3. Changes to Local Building Code
- All new construction that includes landscaping must abide by the annually updated Landscape and Irrigation Criteria Manual.
- Residential new development must install a WI-FI enabled smart irrigation controller and every non-residential project must be installed with a smart controller, rain sensor, master valve, and flow sensor.
- Properties require prescribed soil amendment and tilling.
- In 2018, Kentucky Bluegrass was no longer allowed to be installed in new development or non-residential renovation.
- Spaces less than 10 feet cannot have overhead irrigation, and medians, islands, and round-a-bouts are not allowed to have any irrigation.
4. Registration for Landscape Professionals
Initiated in 2004, all landscape professionals working on non-residential properties or residential new construction must be registered with the Town and have had training on the requirements of the Town, as well as water conservation landscape best practices. The Qualified Water Efficiency Landscape (QWEL) certification became a requirement in 2022.
5. Town Park Landscape & Irrigation Retrofits
Over the past several years, the Town has taken the initiative to decrease water consumption in Town-owned and maintained parks by installing synthetic turf fields, weather-based central control system, rain and flow sensors. Additional ball fields are scheduled for synthetic turf.
6. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
AMI will allow real-time monitoring of water usage which will bring more awareness to water use and potentially provide earlier detection of leaks. Feasibility and funding have been obtained and implementation of AMI is beginning in 2022.
7. Indoor Conservation Incentive Program
In 2019, the addition of ultra-high efficiency toilets (with a recycling program) and whole-home water monitoring system rebates were added.
8. Customer education and engagement
Adjustments to customer education include a Water Wiser certification expiration, an online course offering and expansion of course topics including winterization and ColoradoScape design. A ColoradoScape Front-Yard Renovation contest and CRconserve.com website further outreach efforts and promote engagement with contests and consumer conservation tools.
9. Water loss reduction strategies
In 2014, water loss was calculated at 7.9%. Castle Rock Water conducts an acoustic leak detection test on 1/3 of the distribution system each year to find leaks and prioritize maintenance of problem areas.
10. Watering schedule
In 2018, the watering schedule was extended from June 1 – August 31 to May 1 – Sept. 30 to encourage efficient water use during the irrigation shoulder season. Through education and enforcement, non-residential customers were required to adhere to a redesigned three-day-per-week irrigation schedule. Water monitors provide education and issue violations to offenders who irrigate at the wrong day, wrong time and have water waste.
Various community surveys show that customers support more stringent conservation measures. Castle Rock Water plans to retain the effective strategies implemented in the past and proposes several additional ones. With conservation measures primarily implemented by customers in their own actions, Castle Rock Water is urging customers to provide input to this plan--please, take the WEMP update survey.
Some additional strategies proposed and/or in process:
Front-yard ColoradoScape requirement for new development
For new residential development, Castle Rock Water is proposing to restrict turf in the front yard and limit the back yard to a maximum of 500 sq. ft.
Non-functional turf elimination for non-residential common spaces
For non-residential customers, including apartment complexes, condominiums, townhomes, home owner’s associations (HOA) common areas and commercial businesses, the focus will be to eliminate non-functional turf. Non-functional turf is defined as those areas of turf where play or recreational activities cannot or do not take place.
ColoradoScape demonstration garden
There are xeric gardens at various water facilities. In 2022, a public facing garden was installed at the new Castle Rock Water Administration building. A new educational demonstration garden, almost an acre in size, is planned for installation to begin in 2023 near the Ray Waterman Regional Treatment Facility in the Terrain.
The turf renovation rebate was expanded from $1 per square foot to $1.20 and available funding is proposed to be expanded from $145,000 to $300,000 for both residential and non-residential programs. Additional products, such as the hot water recirculation system and tankless water heaters are being considered. Funding for rebates primarily comes from water violation and excessive use surcharges.
Pilot projects and efficiency neighborhoods
Castle Rock Water will continue to work with community builders and industry partners to create more efficient homes. Currently, a graywater recycling system for the home which takes shower water, and utilizes it for flushing toilets is being studied—as is a whole home water monitoring system. Castle Rock Water works with builders to develop Water Efficiency Plans in entire neighborhoods.
What else should we do? We’d like to hear from you. The survey is open until Sept. 30, 2022.