The Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy is conducting a review of community long-range plans in the Colorado River Basin to evaluate the integration of water resource considerations into community plans. The resulting matrix of plan evaluations based on 20 criteria will inform the creation of a guidance manual on how to integrate water into community long-range plans. This work has become one of the Babbitt Center’s signature efforts, with the Babbitt Center team sharing progress at conferences and undertaking evaluations in partnership with the State of Colorado.


The Babbitt Center’s review of community plans throughout the Colorado River Basin seeks 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.

Long-range plans may not represent the whole suite of land and water planning activities in a community, but they reveal important information about which communities, regions, and states are incorporating water into foundational community planning processes. Furthermore, they provide an opportunity to engage the public on water issues and can lay the ground work for linking water to other land use processes, such as development review, zoning, data and modeling, or ordinances.

Evaluation Matrix

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


The Babbitt Center undertook an initial phase of plan reviews with a primary focus on Arizona and Colorado communities. The lessons learned from this review have informed a revision of the evaluation framework, which is now being used in a broader review of communities across the Colorado River Basin. Exemplary plan language and practices that are found during review will be included in a guidance manual on integrating water in comprehensive plans.

Water Management

  • Existing Water Supplies and Availability
  • Water Use/Demand
  • Water Financing
  • General Water Conservation Programs
  • Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
  • Water Quality

Future Planning

  • Projected Population and Economic Change
  • Projected Development and Land Use Change
  • Water-Related Hazard Mitigation
  • Forecasting Water Supply/Demand
  • Water Supply Augmentation
  • Water Equity

Water Efficient Land Use

  • Collaboration for Land/Water
  • "Show Me the Water" Requirements
  • Water in Development Processes and Evaluation
  • Water Efficient Urban Form and Zoning Regulations
  • Landscaping/Irrigation Policies
  • Building/Plumbing Policies
  • Stormwater Management
  • Water for Ecosystem Functions

Project Progress

The Babbitt Center continues to review plans and revise a guidance manual on this subject. Draft recommendation documents have been written for both the Colorado River Basin and the State of Colorado.

The Babbitt Center has also co-developed Best Practices for Implementing Water Conservation and Demand Management Through Land Use Planning Efforts, a similar guidance document for integrating land use issues into water efficiency plans filed by Colorado water providers.




For more information, or to review a draft of the guidance manual, please contact Erin Rugland at or 602.566.7570.