Water Budget Adjustment

Water budgets are a tool to help manage water use. They’ve been proven to be extremely effective, and have been in use since 2009 in Castle Rock. These budgets are calculated with actual indoor usage and with an individual property’s landscaped area and plant type. The goal is to keep water consumption, indoors and outdoors, within that budget for the most efficient water consumption. Recently, a new aerial map has been used to recalculate the landscaped area and plant type for irrigation customers.

Non-residential customers with irrigation are receiving a new adjusted water budget that went into effect in April 2021. These customers include, but are not limited to, a commercial business, HOA, apartment complex, or park property with outdoor irrigated space.

What is a water budget?

A tool to manage water usage efficiently, found on your statement.

A water budget is divided into tiers, with each tier charged at a higher rate, to encourage conservation. Tier 1 is Indoor Usage and calculated as an average of your actual usage during the winter months. Tier 2 is Outdoor Usage and is calculated based on your property’s actual landscape area, along with identified plant material. Tier 3 is Excessive Use and should be avoided. There is also a surcharge for amounts over 40,000 gallons / month.  

Why is my water budget changing?

Castle Rock Water recently conducted a flyover, and completed an aerial map that updated the irrigated area for some properties and identified actual plant type. The previous water budget was calculated using the water requirements for Kentucky Bluegrass, a high water-use plant. Kentucky Bluegrass is no longer allowed in public areas. The newly adjusted budget uses turf, shrubs and trees and native areas in water usage calculations.

What happens if I go over my water budget?

The adjusted water budget for non-residential accounts went into effect in April 2021. The new 2021 allocated water budget may have a different, presumably reduced, budgeted amount of water. At any time, if a customer exceeds their allocated water budget, they will be charged at the Tier 3 - Excessive Use rate and be charged a higher rate for water consumption.

The intent of water budgets are not to gain more revenue from customers, but to encourage more efficient water use. In fact, if customers stay within the newly adjusted water budget, this will reduce Castle Rock Water revenues with the reduction in usage.

Outreach was conducted in 2019 and 2020 regarding this change in allocated water budget to non-residential customers to provide time to make accommodations to irrigation. Please contact the Castle Rock Water billing department for specific questions on your budget and account at 303-660-1373.

Example of a flyover

With the recent flyover, the actual irrigated area of the non-residential with irrigation property was determined. The actual plant type was also established and consists of turf (green), shrub (pink) and irrigated native (tan). Each plant type has different watering needs and these factors are used to calculate the water budget.

Adjusted Water Budget map for commercial customer

What does Castle Rock Water recommend I do to stay within my adjusted water budget?

  1. Water between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m., on your designated watering day. Watering in the evening when temperatures, sun exposure and wind are lower, and humidity is higher, greatly reduces water waste to evaporation. Daytime evaporation can waste up to 50% of irrigation.
  2. Adjust your sprinkler run times according to plant type. Your past budget was based on Kentucky Bluegrass, a high-water use plant. Often irrigation timers are set for a large volume of water to ensure a green landscape. However, overwatering is not only wasteful but the primary cause of poor plant health. Kentucky Bluegrass is no longer allowed in non-residential areas, and as of 2018, no longer allowed on new residential lots. There are turf alternatives that require less water than Kentucky Bluegrass, and most shrubs and trees require even less. Naturalized (native) areas only need an occasional water during dry, hot periods, and not every week. Irrigation times should reflect plant needs.
  3. Ensure irrigation equipment matches the plant type. Only turf should have sprinklers, while trees and plants should be on a more efficient drip system. Turf areas that are less than 10-feet wide shall not have overhead sprinklers due to excessive water waste.
  4. Adjust your irrigation controller for weather conditions. Turf and plants need less water in the spring and fall than they do during the hottest time of the summer, and watering schedules should reflect that. Consider installing a smart controller that makes automatic adjustments for weather conditions. Check that rain sensors are in working order to eliminate watering during rain events.
  5. Avoid overwatering to fix problems. If dry spots appear in turf areas, don’t crank up the controller. Instead do a cup test to ensure sprinkler coverage is even. Brown spots usually are a result of ineffective or broken irrigation equipment. Sprinkler heads should all be the same type, and height in a single zone. Misaligned sprinkler heads hit by mowers or people, as well as obstructions such as trees and fences could be causing lack of water to that area. Finally, pests and disease can also cause brown spots.
  6. Use Cycle and Soak method of watering. Break up the total irrigation schedule into shorter cycles. For instance, if an area takes 45 minutes to water, consider breaking up the irrigation schedule into three 15-minute cycles with at least 30 minutes in between. This will allow the water to fully soak into the root zone before adding the next shot of water, creating healthier plants that are more tolerant of dry conditions.
  7. Inspect your irrigation system for leaks, broken sprinkler heads, and over-spray, regularly. Though irrigation takes place at night, it is still critical to continually monitor for a properly functioning system that is devoid of leaks, equipment breaks and overspray. Broken sprinklers, misaligned heads, lack of head to head coverage, and too much pressure are all common conditions that contribute to overwatering and water waste.
  8. Hold your landscape professional accountable. If you have hired a landscape maintenance company to manage your irrigated area, show the landscape professional your water budget and express the need to stay within that budget. 
  9. Hire a Water Manager to look at irrigation efficiency. This landscape professional will look at and adjust your irrigation processes according to specific plant and space needs. The cost of hiring this professional could pay for itself in water savings
  10. Use CRconserve.com as a resource. Though geared for residential use, this conservation website has been developed specifically for Castle Rock, with a run-time calculator for irrigation controllers, recommended plant materials, and tips on conservation and irrigation methods. Castle Rock Water provides rebates for efficient rotary sprinkler nozzles, smart controllers and removal of high-water-use plant material.
  11. Apply for a rebate. Castle Rock Water provides several rebates for water efficient irrigation products including smart controllers and rotary nozzles. Additionally, we offer rebates for renovating high-water-use plant material into low- or no-water-use material.
  12. Check indoor water usage. Tier 1 is indoor usage and begins the tiered structure on your budget. If you have excessive use indoors, this could push Tier 2 consumption into Tier 3-Excessive Use rates.
  13. Decipher spikes in usage. If you see a spike in usage, this could indicate a leak. Check CRconserve.com to identify how to determine if the leak is indoors or out. Create a schedule to periodically check for leaks or abnormally high consumption instead of waiting to see the spike on the bill.