COLORADO: Linking Land Use & Water: Tools to Grow Water-Smart

Linking Land Use & Water: Tools to Grow Water-Smart

By Julio Iturreria, Colorado representative for Western Planner

Last year Colorado Senate Bill 15-008 became a law concerning the promotion of water conservation in the land use planning process. This bill charges Colorado water conservation board and the Department of Local Affairs to develop training programs for local governments free of charge to water use, water demand and land use planners. With this bill and the adoption of the Colorado Water Plan more and more emphasis has been placed on the state and local planning agencies to meet the challenge of understanding the issues of drought, conservation plans, best practices for water demand management, and water efficiency.

The first step to educate the land use planners in Colorado were conducted on March 9, 2016 at the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute at Sturm College of Law, a daylong session which dealt with topics along the line of “The Land Use System,” “The Water Planning Process,” “Land Use and Water Planning Integration,” ‘Best Practices and Advice from the Front Range” followed by a group discussion on “How to Make It Happen.” This program was conducted by Drew Beckwith, Water Policy Manager for Western Resources Advocates and John Nolan, Professor at the Land Use Law Center for Pace Law School. Both men provided a good overview of the land use and water with emphasis on the integration of water conservation strategies currently being used in the land use system, integrating water planning polices into comprehensive plans, zoning, subdivision and site regulations. The discussion presented pertained to cities with in the metro area of Denver and how those cities presenting address the supply of water to the per capita water use and factors of land use patterns such as small lots, cluster development and multifamily development; Items such as reducing turf for residences and eliminating turf from streetscapes.

Since this is only the first official sessions directed to land use planners by the state statues, greater emphasis will needed to encompass cities, counties and special districts with emphasis on communication and cooperation between various disciplines. Additional information on the session, such as handouts are located on the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute web-site under “session materials.”  


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