Castle Rock is part of Colorado’s semi-arid high plains, with only 8-15 inches of precipitation in a typical year, so water has long been an issue for residents.
Less than a day’s drive east in Nebraska, Omaha averages almost 24 inches
Castle Rock’s lack of water has led to a number of different conservation efforts over the years, including the formation of the Water Wiser classes, which teach residents how to conserve water at their homes and properties.
Water Wiser class participants learn about appropriate plants for the area, the detection of water waste outside and how to improve the efficiency of their irrigation systems.
The workshop teaches the “Seven Steps of Xeriscape.” Xeriscape is a type of landscaping that reduces water use.
On average, between 40-50 percent of a homeowner’s water consumption is used on landscape irrigation.
Once customers have completed the workshop, they earn a Water Wiser designation. This exempts them from the town’s every-third-day watering schedule.
“Roughly a third of our customers have been through that course,” Utilities Director Mark Marlowe said. “It’s a great course where we focus on educating our customers on outdoor water use, and how to maximize the efficiency which with they maintain their landscapes.”
The designation is tied to the participants, not the homes, meaning it would move with them to a new residence.
However, while Water Wiser graduates can water any day of the week, they are still restricted to individual water budgets.
“We don’t allow watering between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.,” Marlowe said. “Which is more aggressive than what you’ll find in some of the other Front Range communities, which typically go from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
The town encourages customers to water during those hours because there is less sun and wind and more humidity, which helps keep more water in the ground and prevents excess evaporation.
The workshops are free, but spaces are limited.
Castle Rock has been on water restrictions since 1985. These restrictions are not so much a water savings program as a demand management tool that helps stagger peak water usage over several days.
Castle Rock’s every-third-day, specific-hours watering program begins every year on June 1 and continues through August.