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 on an individual property’s landscaped area and plant type. The goal of any customer 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 will go into effect in April, 2021. At this time, this information applies only to those customers. This includes, but is not limited to, a commercial business, HOA, apartment complex, or park property with outdoor irrigated space. If you are in question, please feel free to call us to determine if your water budget is currently being adjusted.
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 Tier 4 which is 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.
What happens if I go over my water budget?
The adjusted water budget will go into effect in April 2021. The allocated water budget, that has been in effect since 2009, is still in effect for 2020. 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.
Reading your graph
- Allocated water budget – is the budget provided on your past and current bill that has been based on water needs of Kentucky Bluegrass. It is the blue bar on the graph.
- Adjusted water budget – is the budget that has been calculated with the updated lot size and plant type. It is the orange bar on the graph.
- Adjusted water budget graph (see example) - identifies the difference between the allocated water budget and the adjusted water budget, along with actual usage for 2018 and 2019.
- Billing statement – the monthly bill has not been altered at this time and will appear as it has in the past. The adjusted budget will go into effect in 2021 and is not reflected on your 2020 billing statements.
- The goal is stay within the orange bar graph. This amount is the calculation based on the updated area of your property and the plant type in your landscape. These updates were determined from a flyover, aerial map and are specific to your property.
- The dark orange line is your actual usage in 2018. This is the amount of water you used and paid for in 2018. This is provided for comparison and to show if changes you’ve made in 2019 to irrigation practices are effective.
- The black line is your actual usage in 2019. This is the amount of water you used and paid for in 2019 and reflects any changes you made to irrigation. The black line should have been below or close to the orange bar graph.
- The blue bar is the water budget based on the water needs of Kentucky Bluegrass, and with a general irrigated area. This graph is still valid in 2020, but will be updated in 2021. You will only be charged Tier 3 - Excessive Use rates if you exceed the blue bar on your bill in 2020.
The graph data also provides the corresponding amounts for the actual gallons allocated for the Kentucky Bluegrass budget, the newly adjusted budget, actual usage in 2018, and actual usage in 2019. You should have received a report with the financial impact of your usage. This includes what you paid in 2019 for actual usage and the amount of Tier 3 - Excessive Use charges that would have been incurred if the newly adjusted budget had been in place.
Any Non-Residential with Irrigation customer that would like to discuss their billing and budgets, please call 720-733-6000.
Example of a flyover
With the recent flyover, the actual irrigated area of the 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.
What does Castle Rock Water recommend I do to stay within my adjusted water budget?
- Water between 10 p.m. and 6 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 in excess of 50% of irrigation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. (Replacement of broken heads or nozzles are frequently replaced with dissimilar equipment.) 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. Properly assess the problem rather than simply extending the time on a controller.
- 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. This will also reduce run-off.
- 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.
- 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. Determine how to monitor for water waste given irrigation takes place in the evening.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.