Case studies

Fort Collins Utilities

The City of Fort Collins is located in Colorado’s Northern Front Range 50 miles north of Denver. It rains an average of 16 inches per year with 237 sunny days. Like many Front Range Colorado communities, Fort Collins’ population is growing quickly. At the same time, the city experiences recurring droughts that are intensified by climate change in an area already short on water supplies. Fort Collins is in a designated “critical water supply shortage” area; Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Statewide Supply Initiative predicts a significant gap between water supplies and water demands along Colorado’s Front Range, starting in 2040 for the Northern region of the South Platte River Basin where Fort Collins is located. These challenges, and particularly a severe drought in 2002-2003, motivated Fort Collins to build intensive water conservation and efficiency programs. Fort Collins Utilities has implemented conservation programs for over four decades.

Project at a Glance

Utility Overview

  • Utility: Fort Collins Utilities
  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Population served: 135,00
  • Service area: 35 square miles


  • Population growth
  • System is in a designated critical water supply shortage area
  • Recurring drought
  • Climate change
  • Storage



  • Treat conservation and water use efficiency as a critical strategy to ensure reliable water supplies now and into the future. Continuously evaluate and adapt programs, education, and land use and building codes to meet the needs of utilities and the community it serves.

Program costs and funding sources

  • Program budget: $1,051,066 total (as of 2019), approximately 5% of overall Utilities water fund O&M budget
    • $571,416 for personnel (6.00 FTE, 2.54 Hourly FTE),
    • $479,650 for non-personnel
  • Sources: Utility rates, and state/federal grants

Benefits of Fort Collins Utilities' Programs

Conservation is significantly cheaper than developing new water supplies
Saved 133 million gallons in 2018 a 55% increase in savings from 2017
Audited 1,940,413 square feet of residential sprinkler systems in 2019 reducing usage by 8,614,367 gallons
Reduces individual residential and commercial customer water and sewer bills
Reduced average water use by 32% since 2000
Converted a total of ~200,000 square feet turf between 2016 and 2019 saving an estimated ~2.8 million gallons each year
Reduces long-term system costs
Improves community resilience to current and future effects of climate change

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