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Announcements: Summer Water Use in Greeley Parks


Summer Water Use in Greeley Parks 


The City of Greeley has over 30 neighborhood and community parks, dog parks, special use parks, golf courses and conservation areas. The City manages a total of 933 acres; 315 of these acres are irrigated and over 600 acres are open space or conservation areas. When feasible, Greeley's parks use non-potable water for irrigation to lessen the demand of treated drinking water. About half of Greeley's parks and properties are irrigated with non-potable water.

During the drought of the early 2000s, the citizens of Greeley called in complaints about the Parks Department (Parks) and city golf courses watering the lawns outside of the watering restrictions when the average customer had to follow a tight watering schedule. The City of Greeley has had watering restrictions since 1907, but watering in times of drought were more restrictive and people were made more aware of their water use. After much analysis, the City of Greeley made the decision to exempt Parks from the watering restrictions for the following reasons:

  • If people's lawns were stressed, people need a place to recreate and enjoy outside activities

  • Sports teams need a place to practice and play games

  • Injury to athletes playing on well watered turf is less likely than playing on hard, unwatered ground

  • Parks, because of their size (mostly 10 acres or more) and activity schedules, can't water within the watering schedule

  • Turf would sustain injury from lack of water and heavy use resulting in high replacement costs for the city.

Although Parks did not follow the watering restrictions, the City wanted to make sure that the irrigation of the city parks was done in a financially and environmentally responsible way. The solution was a Parks Water Budget program that focused on efficiency, rather than a set schedule.

Water budgets, based on evapotranspiration demands, have been developed for all parks and properties managed by the City of Greeley. The water meters are read weekly during the irrigation season to record water use.


Percent of Water Requirement Used

5 year average
This chart shows the average irrigation water requirement for the Parks annually. Irrigation audits and irrigation technology have been added as well.

The consumption data is put into a database and is provided to the park managers every week, showing their park's consumption in relation to the water budget. The park managers are not billed for the water use but find the regular feedback on their water budget helpful in maximizing the efficiency of their irrigation system and recreation demands. A Parks Water Use Report is generated weekly, is available for each Water Board meeting and is regularly reported to the City Council.

The City of Greeley determines success by analyzing an entire watering season, because variations due to the many activities at the parks can make a week-to-week accounting unreliable. For example, the Greeley Stampede, the largest 4th of July rodeo in the world, takes over Island Grove Park for over two weeks. Because of the festivities, the park cannot be irrigated anytime during the event. After the Greeley Stampede is over, Island Grove Park is watered more frequently in an effort to revive the turf damaged by high traffic and no water.

This program was determined to be successful during the drought and the program has continued as a permanent solution to meet Parks needs and to assure the efficient use of water.

The article was originally published in the Fall 2011 , Colorado WaterWise Newsletter.





Created at 9/14/2011 11:01 AM  by Natalie Stevens 
Last modified at 9/14/2011 11:01 AM  by Natalie Stevens