As we approach the end of summer and the irrigation season, it’s a great time to reflect on the state of water in Highlands Ranch. While 2022 was a dry year and low reservoir levels forced us to come together as a community to conserve water, 2023 served up record precipitation. Instead of reacting to drought and sizzling temperatures, we found ourselves with reservoirs filled to capacity.
Through all of this, we at Centennial Water and Sanitation District made working with our community partners at the Highlands Ranch Metro District and Highlands Ranch Community Association one of our highest priorities. Together these three organizations form the local government for our community, and close coordination is important to providing the best possible services to all of our residents.
As a community, we couldn’t react to the unprecedented changes in weather – from drought to record downpours – without the close collaboration of our three organizations. The partnerships we have with the Metro District and HRCA are invaluable.
As Colorado residents know, conservation and sustainability are always going to be a fact of life when it comes to water, even when our reservoirs are full. We’re never sure what the future will bring, and our job is to plan to continue providing the best service we can for the generations who follow us. Water is a finite resource, and decisions we make every day can impact the long-term sustainability of our water future.
We are grateful for the Metro District and HRCA who have become champions for sustainability in their own right. They supported us through the drought restrictions we needed last year, and continue to help us identify ways to conserve more water for our future. Several projects over the past year are worth mentioning.
The Metro District demonstrated a great way to use less water while still maintaining a beautiful landscape by installing new water wise landscaping at its Service Center at Redstone Park. The new landscape design will reduce overall water use once the new plants are established, and preserve an eye-catching mix of green foliage and colorful flowers. This project will also serve as a great resource for residents who want to see an example of ColoradoScape before they begin their own project.
In addition, the Metro District is in the midst of its Parkway Landscape Conversion Project, which they started in 2020 and will be visible to anyone driving around Highlands Ranch. They are converting some areas of bluegrass along the parkways to more drought tolerant, lower maintenance varieties of grass. The end-result will be beautiful landscapes of native and low-water grass that will eventually reduce maintenance costs and water use while maintaining a vibrant backdrop.
Not to be outdone, HRCA has not only begun converting some landscape at their facilities to ColoradoScape, but they recently held a virtual program to teach residents how to plan for and install a water wise landscape on their own properties. By providing examples of how beautiful ColoradoScape can be – and teaching residents how to make their yards more water friendly – HRCA is contributing to water conservation throughout our community.
HRCA worked to convert several areas at the Recreation Center at Eastridge from a water-thirsty landscape into attractive water wise gardens – and they have plans to make similar conversions at other recreation centers in Highlands Ranch, with planning underway at Westridge for 2024.
The partnerships we have with the Metro District and HRCA benefit all of our residents. Our organizations are setting an example as responsible stewards of the environment, and our partners are leading the way to ensure the long-term water sustainability of our community. We greatly appreciate the steps they are taking to set an example for the community, and I look forward to continuing collaboration so we can all provide the best possible services to our residents. With teamwork, we will ensure that we secure a strong water future for Highlands Ranch and maintain our beautiful and vibrant community.
Please visit our website at centennialwater.org/conservation for more information on these projects and some great water conservation ideas and incentives.
Sam Calkins is the general manager of the Centennial Water and Sanitation District