Water Sense
                     Water Fact  Sheet
             Just as Colorado's topography varies from the tower-
             ing Rocky Mountains in the west to the flat
             Eastern Plains, freshwater resources in Colorado
       fluctuate depending on location and elevation.
       Despite relatively abundant precipitation in the
       mountains of Colorado, most of the state is semi-arid
       and heavily dependent on annual snowmelt and runoff
       from the mountains to  the plains, where a majority of the population
       resides and most of the state's water is used.
        In the mountains, headwaters, small creeks, and
        tributaries form from snowmelt, precipitation,
        and groundwater discharge. Because no major
        rivers flow into Colorado, the state relies almost
        completely on precipitation to replenish its
        freshwater resources. The Rocky Mountain states
        obtain 70 to 90 percent of their water from
        snowmelt, so a dry winter can mean drought in
        the summer.
        The annual precipitation in Colorado averages
        only 17 inches statewide and is highly variable,
        with the San Luis Valley in south-central
        Colorado receiving only 7  inches of precipitation
        per year. Complicating matters further, most of
        Colorado's precipitation does not fall near popu-
        lated centers or at times when it is needed most.
        More than half of Colorado's water flows down-
        stream to Southwestern states. As a result,
        Colorado experienced significant drought events
        from 2000 to 2004.
                             Colorado's fast-growing population has also led
                             to increased demand for both drinking water
                             and landscape irrigation water, and continues to
                             strain the drought-prone state's freshwater
                             resources. Colorado's population growth is
                             expected to maintain its rapid pace, increasing
                             from nearly 4.4 million people in 2000 to 6 mil-
                             lion by 2025 and 10 million by the end of the
                             21st century. Consequently, statewide municipal
                             and industrial water use is predicted to increase
                             by 170 percent from 1998 to 2100.
                             In the Front Range, the eastern part of the state
                             where the majority of the population resides,
                             ground water is being tapped at a rate that will
                             likely exhaust supplies. Front Range communi-
                             ties could face a significant water supply deficit
                             by 2030, and shortages could be even more
                             drastic depending on the effectiveness of
                             municipal conservation efforts across the state.
June 2010
(866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) • www.epa.gov/watersense • watersense@epa.gov
Recycled/Recyclable—Printed with Vegetable Oil Based Inks on 100% Process Chlorine Free Recycled Paper.

Doing IVIore With Less
Colorado's water resources are affected by cli-
mate, population growth, and existing agree-
ments to supply water to downstream states. All
of these issues highlight the value of water-effi-
ciency measures to ensure the continued health
of Colorado's water supply.
Ever since Colorado introduced Xeriscaping dur-
ing  the 1981 drought (see below), the state has
often  been ahead of the curve in addressing
water supply issues. For example, many Colorado
cities have begun charging for water usage
based on the water's true cost, or adopting a
tiered system, with heavy users paying more per
gallon after they exceed certain thresholds.
Promoting the slogan "Use only  what you need,"
Denver Water encourages water efficiency with
rebates on water-saving  products and tips for
conservation and Xeriscaping at home and
work. For example, by watering lawns and gar-
dens more efficiently, Colorado residents can
potentially save a total of 50 million gallons of
water each  day—equal to the amount that
flows  from more than 5,400 garden hoses run-
ning fully open for 24 hours.
             In Thornton, Colorado, residents are encouraged
             to become Water Saving Champions by pledg-
             ing to save 10 gallons of water each day. With a
             mix of tips, rebates, and outreach, the city's
             social marketing campaign has significantly
             reduced local water consumption. In 2009, each
             Water Saving Champion household  saved an
             average of 630 gallons of water per  month, or
             7,560 gallons per year.
             Water-efficient products, services, and new
             homes such as those labeled by the U.S.
             Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense®
             program can help consumers reduce water use
             by 20 percent or more. In fact, if half the house-
             holds in Colorado installed WaterSense labeled
             faucets or faucet aerators, the state could save
             500 million gallons of water annually—enough
             to supply nearly 4,000 Colorado households
             with water for a year.
             If every household in Colorado replaced its
             showerheads with WaterSense labeled models,
             the state could save enough water every day to
             meet the needs of every household  in Boulder,
             Colorado. For more information and water-sav-
             ing tips, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.
     What  Is Xeriscaping?
     After an unusually dry winter of 1980-1981 left the state's freshwater supplies severely depleted, Colorado
     was hit by a brief but intense drought period from the fall of 1980 into the summer of 1981. In response
     to this crisis, Denver Water developed the concept of Xeriscaping, one of the first formal approaches to
     water-efficient landscape design.
     Xeriscape landscaping is defined as "quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environ-
     ment" and is based on seven fundamental principles:
        Proper planning and design
        Soil analysis and
Appropriate plant selection
Practical turf areas
Efficient irrigation
Use of mulches
Appropriate maintenance
      For more information about Xeriscaping in Colorado, visit www.xeriscape.org. For more information about
      WaterSense labeled products and new homes, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.