Growing Water Smart is a joint program between the Lincoln Institute and the Sonoran Institute, and the partnership has expanded to include numerous other contributors like Utah State University’s Center for Water Efficient Landscaping (CWELL) delivering workshops that introduce communities to the full range of collaboration, communication, public engagement, planning, and policy implementation tools to realize their watershed health and community resiliency goals. Through Growing Water Smart, communities learn to better integrate land use and water planning.

Thumbnail image for a video about Growing Water Smart

Watch the Growing Water Smart video to learn more about the program and participant experiences.

Workshop Format

The workshop brings key community staff and decision-makers on water and land use planning together and takes teams through facilitated discussions that set common goals around land use and water. The community teams ultimately develop collaborative action plans tailored toward local needs. Growing Water Smart workshops provide the time and space for focused team discussions and offer an opportunity to learn from peers and experts about the challenges and opportunities of achieving a secure water future. Participating teams spend much of their time defining their water resilience goals and a path to attain them. Teams develop action plans on behalf of their communities and commit to post-workshop implementation activities to advance those action plans.

State-Specific Resources

A unique curriculum is designed for each state that hosts Growing Water Smart. This includes a Community Self-Assessment and Guidebook that are tailored to the legislative requirements of that state and features local examples of land and water integration. We currently have these resources for Arizona, CaliforniaColorado, and Utah


At the 2019 American Planning Association (APA) Colorado Chapter Conference held in Snowmass Village, Colorado, the Growing Water Smart program was awarded the 2019 APA Colorado Honor Award in the category of Sustainability and Environmental Planning.

Join Us

Participants in the February 2020 Arizona Growing Water Smart Workshop
Participants in the February 2020 Arizona Growing Water Smart Workshop

Participation in Growing Water Smart is by application on a biannual basis. Selection criteria is based upon:

  • Diverse team composition including board members and senior staff from the town and/or county, such as:
    • Elected officials and planning commissioners;
    • City/town/county managers;
    • Water utility and water resource managers;
    • Land use planners;
    • Regional planning organizations;
    • Economic development staff;
    • Public health planners;
    • Consultants employed by the town or county; and
    • Developers.
  • Whether the desired outcomes demonstrate readiness to focus on thoughtful land use and water planning integration and if they are cohesive with the stated goals.
  • Firm commitment to participate and leadership to coordinate team activities, such as completing a community self-assessment and taking part in orientation activities. The workshop is offered at no cost for community teams selected and teams can apply for further technical assistance after the workshop's conclusion. Overnight accommodations and most meals are provided, however travel to and from the workshop is not covered for in-person workshops, which are typically held retreat style.

For more information about upcoming workshops and the application process please contact Kristen Keener Busby at or 602-566-7570 or visit

The Babbitt Center is committed to assisting communities in the Colorado River Basin secure their water future. Are you? If you are a funder, working to ensure your community’s health, vibrancy, and resiliency, we’d love to work directly with you. Please contact Paula Randolph at or 602-393-4313.