Northern Water Offering Grants for Creating Less Thirsty Landscapes
Northern Water is starting a grant program open to public facilities and some private entities that propose creating new climate-friendly landscapes that require minimal or no irrigation.
The water district that spans portions of eight counties and manages the Colorado-Big Thompson and Windy Gap water storage and supply projects is seeking applicants for grants between $5,000 and $15,000, according to a news release.
Applicants need to propose creating or redeveloping landscapes of at least 500 square feet with a design that uses substantially less water than traditional landscapes and includes at least 50 percent plant coverage once plants are mature.
Eligible properties include those that are publicly owned, homeowners’ associations, schools, multi-family housing complexes and private businesses.
“Northern Colorado water providers and users face increasing demands and diverse challenges,” Northern Water Efficiency Program Manager Frank Kinder stated in the release. “We believe these grants can serve as an important tool in helping local entities to be even more efficient with their resources, while also beautifying our communities and showcasing the benefits of different landscape approaches to the public.”
Municipalities in Northern’s district are mulling how to make their landscapes less thirsty with their own efforts — Firestone is set to start converting two town parks’ landscapes next year from turfy and water-needy grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass to seed strains more suited to Colorado’s dry climate.
Longmont officials have considered forming a task force to discuss taking up a similar initiative for the city’s public properties.
Those efforts will likely renew after Longmont hires its first-ever water conservationist on a part-time basis in January or February, the city’s water resources manager Ken Huson said. That position will entail spearheading seed conversion talks as well as administering the city’s existing water conservation programs that offer residents rebates and discounts on low-flow toilet and showerhead installations and the Gardens in a Box xeriscaping initiative.
“Garden in a Box is very effective. People are converting irrigated grass to dryland xeriscape plantings that take a little bit of water,” Huson said.
Replacing 100 square feet of irrigated grass with xeriscaping can save a household 1,000 gallons of water yearly, according to Resource Central, the Boulder nonprofit behind the Garden in a Box program.
“We’re looking at a pretty bleak outlook for Colorado River supply. We’re all going to have to tighten our belts a little bit in that regard,” Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said while in Las Vegas at the Colorado River Water Users Association conference, where federal officials set an ultimatum this week for the seven states that rely on the waterway to come up with drought mitigation plans by the end of next month.
“We can’t tell one of our communities, ‘You have to do this,’” Werner said. “We can certainly encourage them, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Matches of 50 percent of the Northern Water grant amounts are required from applicants, according to the release. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15. Additional details along with an application are available at northernwater.org./WaterConservation .
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/samlounz .