Shift Your Water#
Stop watering your lawn on Oct. 1 for a chance to win $50 off your water bill.#
Fort Collins Utilities residential water customers who regularly irrigate their lawns are eligible for a chance to win $50 off their water bill when they take the pledge and shut off their irrigation system or stop watering with a hose by Oct. 1.
When the weather cools, lawns go dormant and need less water. By shutting down irrigation to healthy lawns early in the fall, we can see a big decline in community water use.
The 2023 Off by Oct. 1 campaign has ended. Thank you for participating!
In 2023, 1,187 households pledged to shift their water use saving 2,684,913 gallons of water, which is equivalent to 33 households not using water for an entire year!
It is important that all customers continue to water their trees, newly established landscapes, and shrub and veggie beds as necessary. See below for winter landscape watering tips.
Commercial customers, parks, school grounds and streetscapes are not included in this campaign and will not be eligible for a bill credit. Parks and school grounds are a community resource and are watered for as long as possible to give residents and students a safe place to recreate. Streetscapes (e.g., medians) are also watered until temperatures reach freezing to ensure they come back healthy the following year.
Fall and Winter Watering Guidelines#
- Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.
- Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.
- Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. A solid layer (persisting for more than a month) of ice on lawns can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass.
Tree Watering Guidelines#
Watering Newly Planted Trees:
- Mid-April to mid-October: 40 gallons per week
- Mid-October through November: 40 gallons every two weeks
- December to Mid-April: 40 gallons per month
Watering Established Trees:
- Water established trees twice a month during dry spells in fall, winter and spring.
- 10 gallons of water for every inch of diameter of tree trunk, every 10 days during the summer
An interview with City of Fort Collins Parks#
1. Why doesn’t Parks shut off their irrigation by Oct. 1?
Many of our parks are winterized in early to mid-October depending on the fall precipitation forecast. The decision to stop irrigating for the season is based on the needs and demands of the turf. Scheduled athletic activities for our sports fields are through the first weekend in November. Irrigating throughout the athletic season helps keep the play surfaces healthy, safe, and resilient. When we don't irrigate, the turf becomes damaged, resulting in more injuries and a less positive recreation experience. Most of our parks are completely winterized by mid-November, with an exception made for tree watering.
2. Why is it important for Parks to manage its water use and how do you do it?
Parks is looked to as a leader in water conservation and management techniques! We need to keep our parks aesthetically appealing, healthy, and safe for our community. During the growing season, Park Technicians monitor the amount of water used on park sites monthly and compare the total water used with the water the turf actually needs. This data helps us identify problems in our watering system and improves our water efficiency.
3. What are some notable projects that highlight Parks smart watering practices?
We have changed most of the watering controllers in our system to Weather Trak smart controllers. As an example, at Fossil Creek Community Park, we achieved a more than 20% reduction in the total gallons being used on a nightly basis for regularly scheduled irrigation after installing these smart controllers in 2022. This change also reduced the amount of energy being used to run our water pumps, saving electricity, and preventing wear and tear on expensive equipment.
We introduced hydro-zoning, which is now a part of our irrigation standards. Hydro-zoning is the practice of grouping plants together by their watering needs, which helps conserve water. This practice is being used at Crescent, Traverse and Sugar Beet parks and in all future park builds.
4. What technology helps you manage water use in Fort Collins parks and how does it work?
Our new Weather Trak equipment allows us to better manage our irrigation and alerts us to possible issues. For example, an irrigation system may have a leak and Weather Trak notifies us that excess water is being used and shows us where to look for the leak. This saves Parks time and money in diagnosing a problem that may have gone unnoticed for days with our previous technology. We also use rain and freeze sensors, high-efficiency irrigation nozzles and pressure regulators to make sure we water the landscape efficiently.
Additionally, 80% of our 1000 acres are irrigated with raw water. This non-potable water has not been treated by our Water Utilities department and is less expensive to the community. Most of our potable taps are associated with the over 100 streetscapes we steward, with most of these environments using drip irrigation to reduce evaporation.
Frequently Asked Questions#
Yes. Even if you participated last year, you need to pledge again to be eligible for the bill credit prize drawing this year.
It is important that all customers continue to water their trees, newly established landscapes, and shrub and veggie beds as necessary. If the weather remains dry into the fall and winter, customers should consider using a hose to water their lawns (only when above 40 degrees).
No. You do not need to winterize your system to be eligible for the bill credit drawing. However, it is important to winterize your system before the first freeze to avoid damage from freezing irrigation lines and breaks.
If you are a renter or live in an apartment, you may not have control of your outdoor irrigation. That’s okay! Talk to your landlord to see if it’s on option to turn off the sprinkler system. If not, there are other ways you can save:
- Limit showers to five minutes.
- Only wash full loads (clothes and dishes).
- Turn off the faucet when not in use (brushing teeth, shaving, etc.).
- Fix leaks and receive rebates when you install qualifying efficient toilets, showerheads, and appliances.
Did You Know?
Mowing when it's cool reduces stress on the grass.
Opening curtains and shades during the winter can help the sun warm your home.
Using low water-using plants that provide seasonal colors and textures for year-round beauty can help save on irrigation costs.