Integrating Water & Land Use Planning

CO state graphic land use quote

As Colorado grows, land-use planning and water planning will become more closely connected. The manner in which Colorado develops into the future will have a strong influence on Colorado's future water supply gap, and vice versa. One objective of Colorado's Water Plan is that by 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning. Ten communities have completed land-use and water trainings through the LULA process, and in order to reach the 75 percent population objective, a total of 80 communities and water providers will need to have participated in similar trainings by 2025. The trainings will support approximately 80 water providers and communities statewide to incorporate land-use practices into their water conservation plans. To facilitate the use of local land-use tools to reduce water demands for municipalities and urbanization of agricultural lands, the State will work with partners to pursue the following actions.

  1. Encourage the use of local development tools
  2. Examine barriers in state law for implementing the above local development tools
  3. Incorporation of land-use practices into water conservation plans
  4. Strengthen partnerships
  5. Funding

Learn more in Chapter 6.3.3 of Colorado's Water Plan.

NEW! Land Use and Water Planning Story Map. This Story Map is about the nexus of land use planning and water management in Colorado. It gives an overview of the land use and water planning section in Colorado\'s Water Plan and contains updates since the plan was published in November 2015.

NEW! Integrating Land Use and Water Resources: Planning to Support Water Supply Diversification - Report #4623 :This project explored current and future opportunities to diversify water supplies through better coordination between water utilities and the land use planning and development community.


NEW! Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue

By 2050, Colorado is projected to experience a doubling in population along with an increase in municipal and industrial water demand. In the semi-arid climate of Colorado with limited water supplies, this increased water demand will result in a statewide water supply gap. Thus far, strategies to address the gap have generally taken three forms: develop new supply and water storage projects, implement reuse projects, and encourage water conservation. The Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue explored whether the integration of water and land use planning might reduce water demand from residential housing development and re-development associated with the projected population increase.

The Water and Growth Dialogue facilitates the exploration of data and information for land planners, water planners, policy makers, development interests, and others interested in the potential impact of integrating land and water planning. The topics of density and landscaping and their effects on water demand are important considerations for communities to examine as they plan for growth. One of the goals of the dialogue is to provide local planners and decision makers with accurate and useful information to consider water as a factor in new growth.

Through the development of a Steering Committee and Working Group, the Dialogue refined its goals to include the following:

  • First, demonstrate how much water could be saved through the integration of water and land use planning for homes and neighborhoods that will be developed or redeveloped in the future,
  • Second, develop a consensus-based set of recommended strategies for communities that can be incorporated into their planning that recognizes the uncertainties of how and where people in the future will want to live, and
  • Finally, develop and disseminate these results to communities so that the information and data can feed into their planning processes.

The Dialogue produced the following products and tools:

Colorado Water & Growth Dialogue Final Report

Water & Growth Dialogue Products

NEW! Water & Land Use Planning Alliance

In December 2017, the CWCB and the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)convened the Water and Land Use Planning Alliance (Alliance). As the Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue wrapped up, there needed to be an outlet for the active players who had been engaged in the Dialogue to continue their work. Additionally, there needed to be a space to welcome new people and diversify the work space.

The Alliance usually meets quarterly to share work progress, new project ideas and to ensure the groups working in this space are not duplicating efforts. The Alliance is a great place to understand the current work for integrating water and land use planning being carried out in Colorado. If you\'re interested in viewing projects currently underway by Alliance members, check out this Story Map.

December 2017 Meeting Summary

March 2018 Meeting Summary

June 2018 Meeting Summary

October 2018 Meeting Agenda

March 2019 Meeting Summary

June 2019 Meeting Summary

September 2019 Meeting Summary

January 2020 Meeting Summary

NEW! Sonoran Institute

For a little over a year, the CWCB has been working with the Sonoran Institute and Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy to bring Growing Water Smart workshops to Colorado. These workshops aim to train an interdisciplinary team of land use planners, water planners and elected officials to work together and develop an action plan to better integrate water planning into land use planning.

Growing Water Smart Workbook

Resources to Embrace Change

Growing Water Smart Spring 2019 Workshop

Babbitt Water & Land Policy Center

Western Resource Advocates

Breaking Down Silos: Integrating Water into Land Use Planning

Webinar Series

The Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Pace University Land Use Law Center, and the Department of Local Affairs' Community Development Office hosted a series of webinars targeted at Colorado water providers and local government planner's.


Integrating Water into Land Use Planning: Setting the Stage - Sept. 13

Integrating Water Efficiency into Comprehensive Planning - October 4

Integrating Water Efficiency into the Zoning Code- November1

Addressing Water Efficiency in Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) - April 11

Integrating Outdoor Water Use and Landscape Requirements into Codes &, Plans - April 18

NEW! Training Modules


Breaking Down Silos Integrating Into Comprehensive Master Planning Integrating Into the Zoning Code


Integrating Water into Land Use Planning: Setting the Stage

Integrating Water Efficiency into Comprehensive Planning

Integrating Water Efficiency into the Zoning Code

Addressing Water Efficiency in Planned Unit Developments


Integrating Outdoor Water Use and Landscape Requirements into Codes & Plans


kevin train the trainer teaching

Train-the-Trainer Workshop

The Train-the-Trainer Workshop was held on October 24, 2017in Colorado Springs. There were 35 participants. This was a free workshop at the American Planning Association Colorado State Conference. It was designed for local government planners and water providers who want to be trained to provide educational workshops in their community and/or region to explore issues of water and land use planning and how to develop effective plans and implementation strategies for water conservation. Participants were guided through three training modules and learned how to conduct educational workshops for local government leaders in their region. The modules will help trainers enhance communication and provide specific land use techniques regarding water efficiency and land use.