The Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy conducted a review of community long-range plans in the Colorado River Basin to evaluate the integration of water resource considerations into community plans. This review produced an evaluation matrix of plans based on more than 28 criteria and recommendations for integrating water into community long-range plans.


The Babbitt Center’s review of community plans throughout the Colorado River Basin has sought to determine:

  • the state of land use and water planning integration in Colorado River Basin communities and
  • the gaps and opportunities to be addressed in land and water planning and management practices.

While recognizing that these community comprehensive or general plans may not represent the whole suite of land and water planning activities in a community, the Babbitt Center believes these resources reveal important information about which communities, regions, and states are incorporating water into foundational community planning processes. This work has become one of the Babbitt Center’s signature efforts, with the Babbitt Center team sharing progress at multiple conferences and undertaking evaluations in partnership with the State of Colorado.

Evaluation Matrix

Sample plan evaluation matrix for fictitious jurisdictions, where darker blue coloring indicates stronger land and water planning integration


To date, the Babbitt Center has reviewed every town, city, and county plan in Arizona; fifty Colorado community plans; and at least three plans from each of the other Colorado River Basin States (California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). The exemplary practices found during plan review were added as examples in a guidance document for communities looking to better integrate water into their plans. The bulleted lists below detail the 28 opportunities for integrating water into community plans identified in the guidance document.

Current Water Resources Overview

  • Ownership of Water System
  • Description of Water Supplies
  • Water System Capacity
  • Water Infrastructure
  • Stormwater Management
  • Water Use Measurement
  • Water Use by Sector
  • Water Challenges & Goals
  • Non-Revenue Water
  • Water Efficiency & Conservation Programs
  • Water Reuse
  • Water Quality
  • Water Infrastructure Financing

Future Resiliency Considerations

  • Population Growth
  • Development Expectations
  • Projected Water Demand
  • Water Demand Scenarios
  • Future Water Supplies
  • Drought Planning
  • Recharge/Recovery/Storage Program(s)
  • Transferable/Acquirable Water Rights

Land Use/Water Planning Tools

  • Low Water Use Development Strategies
  • Preservation of Natural Watersheds
  • Innovative Zoning Techniques
  • Green Infrastructure/LID
  • Requirements for Interior Fixtures
  • Requirements for Outdoor Water Use
  • Regional Watershed Planning Coordination

Project Progress

The Babbitt Center will continue to compile information about the latest long-range planning efforts in Colorado River Basin states and identify the most pragmatic strategy for undertaking further reviews, until the whole Basin has been evaluated.

Draft recommendation documents have been written for both the Colorado River Basin and the State of Colorado. The drafts are currently under review by an informal advisory group comprised of experts in the field. The Babbitt Center is also offering similar guidance for integrating land use issues into water provider water efficiency or master plans.

Babbitt Center draft recommendations  for  Colorado communities

For more information, please contact Erin Rugland at or 602.566.7570.