The integration of water and land use planning is one crucial action to close the gap between future water supplies and demands. Communities across the West are taking that action. How do we know if those actions are meeting their goals?

The Growing Water Smart Metrics Project empowers local governments with tools and opportunities to help them measure progress, evaluate impacts of their policies and programs, and communicate their goals among stakeholders.

“What defines a water-saving community is not always clear, and yet the goal of achieving increased water savings is imperative. Cities and towns need to better understand what is feasible to conserve and for what they should be aiming. This can be achieved in part by identifying targets for achieving savings through…integrating with land use planning….”
Colorado Water Plan 2023, Agency Action 1.1 “Define, benchmark, and institutionalize water-saving communities.

Metrics Guidebook
Data and information are essential

Water and planning professionals can use the metrics presented in the Growing Water Smart Metrics: Tracking the Integration of Water and Land Use Planning Guidebook (2020) to establish baseline values, set targets, and inform decision-making at local, regional, and State levels.

Step beyond siloed roles and jurisdictional boundaries to collaborate with different members of your community and nearby communities. It is time to lead the way in collaboration and data-driven decision-making.


“Sonoran Institute and Brendle Group have evaluated meaningful metrics that communities and the State can use to measure progress of water-land use planning integration and the impacts of those efforts.”
—Christy Wiseman, AICP | Former Land Use and Water Planner, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Metrics Implementation Project

The Sonoran Institute invites Colorado communities interested in establishing metrics to benchmark and track the impact of strategies that integrate water and land use to apply to the second round of the Metrics Project. This opportunity operationalizes the guidance found in Growing Water Smart Metrics: Tracking the Integration of Water and Land Use Planning.

Applications can be submitted by land use planners, water providers and utilities, or other leaders representing a local government entity. Two neighboring communities or a county-municipality partnership may submit a joint application to participate.

Two applicants will be selected to participate in the 2023-2024 project cycle.

Participants will receive twelve months of specialized training and assistance from Sonoran Institute and consulting partner Brendle Group, consisting of:

  • Guidance in development of a stakeholder group.
  • Four externally facilitated multi-hour sessions with their stakeholder group.
  • Technical assistance (up to 70 hours) that can be used for cleaning data and establishing the process for calculating the selected metrics.

The four metrics stakeholder sessions include:

  • Anchor: identify the importance of integrated water and land use planning and the envisioned role of metrics to support the integration of water conservation and stewardship into community operations and municipal policies and master plans.
  • Define: confirm which metrics the community would like to use and establish a tactical plan.
  • Activate: use the metrics to assess current conditions and explore gaps and opportunities for using metric results to improve the community’s planning efforts and outcomes.
  • Assess: determine opportunities to use the metrics to inform new and ongoing policy and planning efforts and outcomes for the community. Make recommendations for next steps.

Expectations of Participating Entities:

  • Lead the identification and invitation of individuals to the metrics stakeholder group.
  • Actively participate in the 4 stakeholder sessions and conduct preparatory and follow-up tasks between them.
  • Have water and land use data available for use in the project.
  • Dedicate up to 15 hours per month of staff time for the duration of the project.
  • Be motivated to utilize metrics collected through this process to establish water targets and determine additional strategies to reach those targets.

The informational RFP is available here:


To apply to participate in the Water and Land Use Metrics Program, please review the metrics identified in the Metrics Guidebook, select 2-3 metrics that are best suited to your community’s needs, and submit your responses to the questions in the webform linked below.

Please note, in the webform you will be asked to upload letters of support from the planning department(s) and the water provider(s) that describe a commitment of participation in the project and implementation of the outcomes. 

Applications are due on August 1, 2023.

Application Webform

Partners and Funders

This project is generously supported and funded by the following:

Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, a Center of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Brendle Group – Consultant
Colorado Water Conservation Board through the Colorado Water Plan Grant Program
Gates Family Foundation
Mighty Arrow Family Foundation

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Additional Resources

Webinar: Progress by the Numbers
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