The Town of Castle Rock, Colorado is a fast-growing region with the current population of 60,000 people anticipated to grow to 140,000 by 2050. The town relies heavily on groundwater and aquifer levels have been steadily declining. It was clear a sustainable solution was required to support the water needs of a growing population.

In response, Castle Rock developed a voluntary incentive-based fee program in 2015 to encourage new developments to be water efficient. They implemented system development fees that pay for the infrastructure of the water system in both residential or commercial developments, and for actual water obtained and developed by the utility for future water supply. The fee structure is intended to reward lower gallon per minute (GPM) water use with a reduced fee.

For developments with a water-efficiency plan that meets a set of minimum standards, the Town offers prorated water resources fees. The standards include indoor and outdoor water efficiency, resident education, third-party verification, and monitoring and enforcement.

Specifically, the requirements are that:

  1. All front and rear yards must be designed and installed by the builder. The developer is responsible for seeing the landscape plan through to completion.
  2. Turf areas cannot exceed 19% to 32% of the lot size, depending on actual square footage of the lot. Kentucky bluegrass is prohibited. Allowable turf species must be approved by the town and must be able to survive on 19 inches of supplemental irrigation per year.
  3. 100 percent xeric landscapes are allowed but must provide a minimum coverage of 75% by plant materials at 5-year maturity in front yards and side yards when adjacent to streets. Rear yards must have a minimum of 40% plant coverage at 5-year maturity. The remainder of yard coverage can be composed of mulches, aggregate surfacing, artificial turfs, and hardscapes.
  4. Residential irrigation design must follow the Town of Castle Rock’s Landscape and Irrigation Performance Standards and Criteria Manual. Automatic irrigation controllers that are weather-based or soil-moisture based are required.

The Town is taking active steps to reduce their dependence on groundwater, diversify their water portfolio, and encourage innovative water conservation measures in new developments.


Case Study Resources

Town of Castle Rock Landscape and Irrigation Performance Standards and Criteria Manual

Landscape Regs csr 4_2018_201804090957491938


Downloaded from
a project of
Resilient Communities and Watersheds