Metro District’s Forward Thinking Creates Triple Win

Kristi Pollard

Many of Colorado’s metro districts have embraced the role of environmental stewards, proactively taking advantage of city rebate programs aimed at conserving water through new technology and landscape designs.

The Tallyn’s Reach’s Metro Authority, a combination of two metropolitan taxing districts, for instance, tapped into the City of Aurora’s rebate programs to install new, upgraded irrigation equipment that optimized water use as well as converted Kentucky bluegrass around the district to native grasses and xeriscaping.

The double barrel approach led to huge water savings – both in use and cost.

Tallyn’s Reach used a rebate program that immediately provided 100% of smart irrigation controller costs as long as the district met the city’s recommended water usage number. To put it into perspective, Tallyn’s Reach used 55 million gallons of water a year, and the terms of the rebate required no more than 31 million gallons. Within three years, the authority met the recommended water usage numbers and began to save 24 million gallons of water and $185,000 a year.

In order to take advantage of another Aurora rebate, the Authority retained Craig Miller, a xeriscape and native grass expert. He recommended a multi-year process on six test sites – three for native grass and three for xeriscaping – to convert Kentucky bluegrass to native grass, which has naturally adapted to Colorado’s climates, soils and environmental conditions. This recommendation was implemented and has resulted in significant cost savings to the authority and reduced its overall water footprint.

“The change is good for the budget, good for the community and good for the environment,” Miller said.

Unlike Kentucky bluegrass, native grass doesn’t need to be watered, aerated, fertilized or mowed. Instead, the grass naturally thrives in Colorado on the limited precipitation we get.  Research has shown that landscaping with native grass and plants on a large or small scale helps maintain biodiversity that otherwise would be lost to development, according to Colorado State University.

Tallyn's Reach has estimates that they have reduced the water use on the six test sites by 1 million gallons compared to prior years and project a reduction of 1.1 million gallons next year.

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