National headlines announcing Tier 2 restrictions on access to Colorado River water, a critical water resource for multiple Western states and many Native American Tribes and Communities, bring into sharp focus our local drought conditions. Although our water supply in Longmont is not impacted by the restrictions on the Colorado River, ongoing drought in Boulder county impacts crop production and increases wildfire risk. So what are we going to do about it?
While our actions alone cannot resolve the drought, we can reduce water use to ensure adequate supply. Along the Front Range, outdoor water use (most of which is used to irrigate turf) accounts for about 55% of residential water use in urban areas.
Where am I going with this? Recently, a Creekside homeowner emailed the HOA to ask if the policies regarding lawn irrigation would change in light of the ongoing drought. I want to share with you the information provided to that homeowner as part of a larger conversation the Creekside HOA community will need to have in the coming months and years. (The following has been edited for length and clarity.)
Will the HOA change its policy regarding watering lawns?
First, any local/state watering restrictions supersede the Covenants. That means that the HOA cannot enforce covenants regarding turf maintenance where there are watering restrictions in place. At present, we are not under mandatory watering restrictions.
In terms of Covenants and any “policy” on watering lawns, maintenance of landscape has and will continue to be a key component of the Covenants. After all, most of us were drawn to this neighborhood because it is pretty and we know that maintaining landscaping is key to maintaining property values. That said, it’s all about a balance and using landscape materials and strategies that address the situation in which we find ourselves (i.e. multi-year drought).
- The City of Longmont recommends watering not more than twice per week.
- Get a FREE irrigation audit through the City of Longmont. This is a great way to detect leaks and maximize the efficiency of your existing system. A significant water savings can be achieved by inspecting and repairing old and inefficient irrigation systems.
- Colorado law (SB 13-183) makes unenforceable any HOA covenant that requires turf.
- If you love your turf, keep your turf (there is no City or State mandate to remove turf), but replacing some turf with water-wise landscaping is an option.
- NOTE: That doesn’t mean that we can just let our grass die. SB 13-183 permits the enforcement of covenants regarding the maintenance of existing grass (i.e., if you have it, you have to take care of it).
- The Creekside HOA has developed interim landscaping guidelines for xeriscape.