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On average, 42% of residential water consumption in Castle Rock is used outdoors. With the high cost of infrastructure to keep up with outdoor watering demand, coupled with Colorado’s frequent droughts and changing weather patterns, the Town of Castle Rock is implementing an ordinance limiting high-water-use grass lawns.
“Keeping up with demand during the summer requires a lot of infrastructure that we only use three or four months out of the year, and it’s very expensive to maintain and expensive for ratepayers,” said Castle Rock Water Director Mark Marlowe. “We’re always trying to reduce peak demands because of the stress on our infrastructure.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Town Council approved an ordinance that prohibits grass lawns in front yards of new homes permitted for construction after Jan. 1. 2023 – instead requiring low-water ColoradoScapes.
Additionally, the backyards of new homes will be limited to no more than 500 square feet of irrigated grass lawn. The addition of swimming pools and water features would reduce the total allowed grass lawn area. The requirements do not apply to existing homes.
ColoradoScape is a natural landscape comprised of drought-resistant plants that blend in with the native Castle Rock landscape. This landscaping uses a combination of hardscape and plant materials, providing a variety of colors, textures, sizes, shapes and seasonal interest. Learn more about ColoradoScapes at CRconserve.com/ColoradoScape.
Since new homes with ColoradoScaped front and back yards will impose less demand on the Town’s water system, the Town will incentivize builders to install low-water landscaping in the front and back yards by offering reduced water system development fees.
The ordinance also adds requirements for new nonresidential landscapes. This includes eliminating non-functional grass lawns, or areas of grass turf where play or recreational activities cannot take place. The requirements apply to apartments, condominiums, townhomes, HOA common areas and commercial businesses permitted after Jan. 1, 2023.
“One of our goals with this ordinance is to reduce water consumption by another 18% by 2050 and get down to 100 gallons of water use per capita per day,” said Marlowe.
Currently, Castle Rock Water consumption is about 118 gallons of water per day per capita.