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Water and HOAs in the Desert Southwest            

The leadership team at CAP Management recently attend the American Water Works Association’s Sustainable Water Management Conference here in Denver.  Water in the Desert Southwest starts with the Colorado River Compact which in 1922 divided up 15 million Acre Feet of water annually from Colorado to California into an upper basin and a lower basin.  The upper basin got 7.5 million acre feet including Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  The lower basin also got 7.5 million acre feet divided between California, Arizona and New Mexico.  The lower basin was guaranteed its 7.5 million acre feet and the upper basin divided it’s water by percentages with Colorado getting more than 50%.  Problem is we have been getting 12-13.5 million acre feet of water a year and by 2050 the water flow in the Colorado River is expected to drop 20-30%.  Oddly enough as water has decreased the states have been able to divide up less and less water among themselves probably because the Secretary of the Interior can come in and mandate reductions and the states would rather work that out. 

The good news here is there are myriad ways to conserve water so that all states in the Colorado River Water Basis have enough.  This is called the “One Water Concept.”  There is rainwater, snowfall, irrigation, storm water, grey water, black water – all opportunities for conservation.  How do HOAs fit in?  They are the biggest water wasters in the entire system.  Why?  Leaky irrigation systems and acres of Kentucky Blue Grass leftover from the 1970s and 1980s.  How can HOAs help?  A good first start it to install leak detectors in their irrigation systems, replace sprinkler heads with low-flow heads, upgrade timers that communicate with weather forecasts and put in sensors to turn off sprinklers when it is raining.  I’ve mentioned sprinklers because the next step is removing turf and moving to water wise plants.  How?  Sprinkler zone by sprinkler zone.  There is a place for Kentucky Blue Grass, but it is not everyplace.  HOAs can do this now, or they will be forced to do this by the exponentially increasing water rates making it unaffordable to keep that grass green.  CAP Management, along with our partners, love these projects. 

Denver Water Conservation

Please reach out to our Chief Sustainability Officer Brandon at

When meeting with new HOAs I often ask “what is your risk management plan.”  Water is a big part of this.  Fire is put out with water.  Risks will change with a changing climate.  Risk Management means being prepared to implement as things change, that’s the definition of Resiliency really.  CAP Management will take your Reserve Study and work with you to create a guiding and actionable Community Plan going forward.  This keeps HOA dues low by planning expenses and making sure those expenses have a pay off by reduced energy usage or lowering maintenance costs.  We would love to meet with you, so please reach out to us!