Glenwood Springs offers new incentives to spur water (and energy) efficiency

Our rivers might be running high right now, but recent summers have been marked by historic wildfires and increasing drought. The Colorado River’s flow has declined to the point of prompting a multi-state crisis over how to allocate its water.

Everyone agrees: we need to become more efficient to protect our rivers and maintain a secure water supply.

Leading the charge locally is the City of Glenwood Springs, which this month is introducing a new rebate program to encourage residents to save water. Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), the nonprofit that manages Garfield Clean Energy, will manage the program along with the energy-efficiency rebates that it already administers for the electric department.

If your water is provided by Glenwood Springs, you can tap into the new rebates to help reduce the cost of qualifying upgrades and purchases including: faucets, showerheads, toilets, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters, sprinkler system equipment, and replacement of irrigated turf with xeriscaping.

For full information on the rebates, program guidelines and application forms, please go to the Glenwood Springs water rebates page.

For the City of Glenwood Springs, paying people to save water is a good investment because it saves the city money on water and wastewater treatment costs. In addition, reducing demand lessens the city’s risk of shortages during emergencies like those that occurred in the wake of the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire.

But wait, there are more reasons to save water. It also saves residents on their gas and electric bills and lowers the carbon footprint of the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants.

For example, it you’re heating less water thanks to an efficient showerhead, you’ll be saving natural gas or electricity at the same time. If you’re flushing less water down the drain, then the water plant and wastewater plants will use less electricity and gas to produce and treat that water.

According to the EPA, replacing just one old showerhead with an efficient WaterSense-labeled one can lower the average family’s combined water and energy bill savings by up to $70 per year. If every home in the United States installed WaterSense-labeled showerheads, it would save more than more than 260 billion gallons of water, $2.9 billion in water bills and $2.5 billion in energy costs annually. And that’s just showerheads – upgrading faucets, dishwashers and washing machines would result in additional savings.

Glenwood Springs’ water rebate program also takes aim at another perennial cause of high water bills: lawns. Traditional lawns are expensive to keep watered in our climate, and again, they impose extra demand on the Colorado River and local water systems.

The best way to lower your watering costs and footprint is to remove some or all of your lawn. Glenwood’s new Irrigated Landscape Buyback rebate will pay residents $2 per square foot of irrigated, established, non-native lawn that they remove and replace with xeriscaping, up to 1,000 square feet. This rebate has a separate application and a number of special requirements, including pre- and post-removal site visits by city staff.

If you're not ready to rip up turf, you can still save a lot of water (and money) by making your irrigation system more efficient. Glenwood Springs is offering rebates on a variety of water-efficient parts purchases, as well as a modest rebate on the cost of an irrigation audit to determine the best bang-for-the-buck measures.

It’s worth noting that Glenwood’s water program relies on incentives – carrots rather than sticks – to encourage conservation. A total of $55,000 is allocated for the program for 2023, and rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Zuleika Pevec at zpevec@cleanenergyeconomy.net or 970-704-9200 ext. 104.