Kathy Olsen, a landscape designer and consultant with Lotus Designs in Steamboat, will give a presentation about xeriscaping with Yampa River Botanic Park Surpervisor Gayle Noonan at today's workshop and garden tour.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Kathy Olsen, a landscape designer and consultant with Lotus Designs in Steamboat, will give a presentation about xeriscaping with Yampa River Botanic Park Surpervisor Gayle Noonan at today's workshop and garden tour.

Conservation plan encourages xeriscaping practices

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Xeriscaping landscaping

Kathy Olsen, a landscape designer and consultant with Lotus Designs in Steamboat, will give a presentation on xeriscaping with Yampa River Botanic Park Surpervisor Gayle Noonan at today's workshop and garden tour.

Kathy Olsen, a landscape designer and consultant with Lotus Designs in Steamboat, will give a presentation on xeriscaping with Yampa River Botanic Park Surpervisor Gayle Noonan at today's workshop and garden tour.

If you go

What: Sustainable landscapes

workshop and garden tour

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Trillium House, Yampa River Botanic Park

Cost: $5 for Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Sustainable Business Program

members; $15 for nonmembers

Call: The Chamber at 879-0880 for more information

— Water-hogging landscaping is one of the biggest targets in a water conservation plan created by the city of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water. Today, a workshop and garden tour will show people alternatives to using water on their yards.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Sustainable Business Program is presenting the workshop and garden tour in partnership with the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, the city and the Steamboat II Metropolitan District. Property managers, landscapers, irrigation professionals, business owners and homeowners are encouraged to attend.

The water conservation plan sets a goal of reducing peak-day water demand 10 percent by the year 2015 and anticipates that 60 percent of those water savings will come from irrigation efficiency measures. A significant portion of today's workshop and garden tour will focus on water conservation through creative landscaping, also known as xeriscaping. Associations with the word "zero" sometimes lead to misconceptions about the practice of xeriscaping.

"It's an often misunderstood concept," said Kathy Olsen, a landscape designer and consultant with Lotus Designs in Steamboat. "It doesn't mean you have a desert full of cactuses and rocks."

Xeriscaping stresses principles such as the use of native plants, placing water-intensive plants in appropriate areas of your yard, reducing turf areas and irrigating efficiently. Olsen will give a presentation about xeriscaping with Yampa River Botanic Park Surpervisor Gayle Noonan at today's workshop and garden tour. On Wednesday, Olsen demonstrated how xeriscaping has been put to use at a home in the 2900 block of Heavenly View. The colorful and intricate yard includes small turf areas and patios.

"A lot of people think xeriscaping is just rocks. They can be very beautiful, very colorful," said Lyn Halliday of Environmental Solutions Unlimited, who wo-rks with the Sustainable Business Program and helped prepare the water conservation plan. "By utilizing native plants, you have drought-tolerant-type scenarios. During peak-day demand in the summer, irrigation is a large component of water use. : It's a great way for people to save."

Olsen said she has watered the landscaping at her own home only four or five times this year.

Water consumption peaks in the summer in Steamboat. Although use is much lower at other times of the year, water and wastewater treatment facilities must be built to handle the highest demands they will face on a "peak day." According to the proposed conservation plan, the average peak-day demand from 2004 to 2007 was 550 gallons per person per day. Outdoor irrigation use of water is twice indoor use in the summer.

The city and Mount Werner Water district estimate that the conservation plan could defer the cost of building new $4 million filtration bays. Every gallon saved, according to the plan, postpones $1 or more toward a new filtration bay.

The plan recommends guidelines such as no outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., discouraging water-intensive landscapes and encouraging the use of native grasses and shrubs. In dry years or drought situations, the plan recommends more restrictive measures.

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