The Hidden Value of Landscapes: Implications for Drought Planning
Colorado has long experienced periods of drought. Droughts often follow years of above normal precipitation, making them difficult or impossible to predict. As Colorado’s population continues to grow, demand on all water resources will increase, especially during periods of drought. According to the Colorado Water Plan, by 2050 Colorado’s population could be nine million, nearly doubling our current population. Some communities may grow moderately, while others are expected to triple in size. In the past decade, Colorado water users have reduced per capita water consumption by slightly under 20%. Some of these savings have come from improved technologies, tiered rate structures, the use of plants with low water requirements and increasing general awareness among users that they should conserve. As citizens and industry work together to meet the Colorado Water Plan’s water conservation goals, the steps we take now will better prepare us for future natural stressors, such as drought, flood, fire and temperature extremes, which will impact the benefits that our landscapes provide to society.
A new study from Colorado State University quantifies that Colorado landscapes use only 3% of all the water in the state, and Coloradans benefit tremendously this small investment of water resources. The return from that 3% pays tangible benefits in terms of property values, quality of life within our communities related to environmental issues, crime reduction and personal safety, health and well-being. This study proves that Colorado communities can and should preserve landscapes in the process of conserving water, and urban landscapes should not be the sole target of water reductions.
The study also provides guidance for water providers, organizations/municipalities property owners how our landscapes should be managed during times of drought.
ALCC members advocate for responsible water usage and have developed and use best management practices that address responsible water use in the design, construction and maintenance of landscapes.