Locally integrated management of land-use and water supply

Material Information

Locally integrated management of land-use and water supply can water continue to follow the plow?
Coulson, Scott E
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xi, 120 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Land use -- Planning -- West (U.S.) ( lcsh )
City planning -- West (U.S.) ( lcsh )
Water-supply -- Government policy -- West (U.S.) ( lcsh )
Local government -- West (U.S.) ( lcsh )
City planning ( fast )
Land use -- Planning ( fast )
Local government ( fast )
Water-supply -- Government policy ( fast )
United States, West ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 113-120).
General Note:
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Statement of Responsibility:
by Scott E. Coulson.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
66459243 ( OCLC )
LD1193.A78 2005m C68 ( lcc )

Full Text
Scott E. Coulson
B.S., The Pennsylvania State University, 1996
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Urban and Regional Planning

This thesis for the Master of Urban and Regional Planning
degree by
Scott E. Coulson
has been approved
Mov. W 2vo f

Coulson, Scott E. (Master of Urban and Regional Planning)
Locally Integrated Management of Land-use and Water Supply: Can Water
Continue to Follow the Plow?
Thesis directed by Professor Ernesto G. Arias
Build-out of the land will continue to dictate the mechanics of community
development until public officials accept that land-use decisions are in many
respects, water-use decisions as well. Land-use agencies, often unknowingly, have
assumed the job of watermaster by implicitly allocating water to urban growth
through their own land-use plan and build actions. As such, the current process
subordinates water servicing to the discretion of land-use bodies: Essentially water
does still follow the plow as a result of water considerations that succeed land-use
actions. Land planners must recognize this system as antithetical to the rational and
comprehensive planning ideal touted as the mantra of urban planning. By
developing new water in response to activities of the land-use agency, municipal
governments are relying on the precarious assumption that more water will always
be physically and legally available. In the semi-arid western United States (the
West), the availability of water has always been far more limited than developable
land. Yet, we have failed to embrace water availability as a factor to be analyzed
alongside other, more common, considerations in land-use actions. At the very least,
an ability to serve (water) should precede the action of urban growth. Moreover,
water supply and land-use planning should be granted equal footing in the decision-
making forum if long-term water sustainable development is to occur.
The following thesis paper centers on the municipal branch of local government,
lending emphasis to how water is supplied to new urban growth in the Western
U.S., particularly Colorado. A review of the literature was undertaken to frame the
research in the hierarchical regulatory structure which affects this process at the
municipal government level. Applied research was then conducted using a case
study method and an organizational mapping exercise to analyze the functional
relationships between a citys divisions in providing water service to new urban
growth. The mapping exercise served as an invaluable device for engaging
municipal government officials as participants in delineating new directions of
organizational coordination in the land-use and water servicing process.

This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.

To Rebecca and our belief in each other.

I would first like to offer my deepest gratitude to my thesis committee members:
Ernie Arias, for un-ending personal and professional guidance,
Doug Kenney, for realizing my potential from the beginning, and
Sarah Van de Wetering, for sharing the sense of urgency in this research.
My sincere thanks also go out to Jim Holway and Sarah Van de Wetering for
generous contributions from afar: the thoughtful discussions, critical reviews of
earlier versions of this thesis, and collaboration in making sure a portion of the
results reach an audience with the ability to effect change.
I would also like to give thanks to those working on the front lines of professional
practice in both the City of Thornton and Aurora. Your participation and candid
discussion in the research has enabled me to more accurately characterize the
interplay between land and water use activities in city government.
Additionally, I am indebted to my classmates, colleagues, professors, and others
who helped to shape this research.
Lastly, I wish to show my appreciation for my family:
My father, who was a man of few but meaningful words and continues to
serve as my symbol of strength,
My mother, who despite her poor health, somehow managed not ask too
much of me,
My sister, whose legal savvy must have rubbed off on me,
Rebecca, for believing in my dreams and making sure I enjoyed study
breaks, and
Atka, the dog whose name means guardian spirit in Inuit, you are aptly
named and a faithful companion.

1. Introduction...............................................................1
1.1 The Land-use and Water Supply Disconnect...................................1
1.2 Significance of the Problem................................................3
1.3 Research Statement.........................................................4
1.4 Organization of the Thesis.................................................5
2. At the Intersection of Land-use and Water Supply:
A Review of the Literature..................................................7
2.1 Governing Land and Water along the Watershed Continuum...................9
2.2 Governing Land and Water at the State Level..............................11
2.2.1 Florida.................................................................13
2.2.2 New Mexico.............................................................14
2.3 Integration of Land and Water Management by Local Governments.............16
2.3.1 Applied Linkage Strategies..............................................18
3. The Regulatory Envelope in Colorado.......................................30
3.1 Absence of Integrated Land and Water-Planning...........................31
3.2 Water Availability Requirement...........................................33

3.3 Colorado Counties Empowered to Define Water Supply Adequacy.........38
4. Research Materials and Methods.........................................41
4.1 Research Objectives....................................................41
4.2 Criteria for Conducting the Research..................................43
4.3 Research Materials....................................................44
4.4 Methodology...........................................................44
4.4.1 Organizational Research..............................................45
4.4.2 Action and Participatory Methods.....................................46
4.4.3 Visual Methods.......................................................48
4.4.4 Organizational Mapping Exercise.....................................49
4.4.5 Illustrative Case Study..............................................54
5. Results................................................................59
5.1 Descriptive Facts of the Case..........................................59
5.2 Data..................................................................61
5.2.1 The City of Thornton Process for Supplying Water
to New Urban Growth.................................................62
5.2.2 Self Directed Coordination of Land Development and Water Servicing...73
6. Discussion.............................................................80
6.1 The City of Thornton Process for Supplying Water
to New Urban Growth...................................................80
6.1.1 Analysis of Long-term Planning.......................................81
6.1.2 Analysis of Current Building

6.2. Analysis of Identified Land and Water Linkages..........................89
6.3 Research Limitations....................................................95
6.4 Future Research and Practice Needs......................................97
7. Conclusion................................................................99
A. Base Map: Land Development and Water-
Servicing Process.......................................................106
B. Research Instrument Protocol............................................107
C. Priorities for the City of Thornton.....................................112

5.1: Composite Organizational Map for Long-term
5.2: Composite Organizational Map for Current Building.....................71
A. Base Map: Land Development and Water-
Servicing Process..............................................:.......106

3.1: Governmental Layers and the Disconnect...............................31
4.1: Total Population by Geographical Area, 1990 through 2004.............56
5.1: Sequence of Planning Events by Division Respondent...................63
5.2: Sequence of Building Events by Division Respondent...................65
5.3: Linkage Node by Frequency of Identification..........................76

1. Introduction
1.1 The Land-use and Water Supply Disconnect
Within natural systems the land and its waters are intertwined in dynamic
interdependencies which sustain a variety of life processes. Of similar importance,
both the land and water are media for shaping how a communitys future will
operate as effected through the designed systems of mankind. Despite these
connections in both natural and designed systems, local government structure
maintains a surprising disparity between land-use planning1 2 actions and the process
of supplying water to new urban' growth and development.
The disconnect between a town or citys land and water agencies typically
manifests itself because water management and land-use planning are granted
separate mandates with seemingly separate problems. Water supply divisions, as
well as other water-related services such as stormwater management and wastewater
treatment, generally only function as a support system for development on the land.
This divergence in procedure and organizational structure is not simply confined to
1 There is a fine line between what constitutes planning prior to development and management.
For simplicities sake, the terms are used interchangeably throughout.
2 The term urban growth is used here as it is commonly understood by non-planners. In this case,
urban refers to all types of community growth in metropolitan, fringe, suburban, exurban, and rural
land areas.

water management considerations: Although we typically refer to local planning as
comprehensive, the services required by additional population growth are
regularly omitted from land-use analysis and decisions. For example, a cyclical
relationship exists between land-use and transportation whereby transportation
decisions affect land-use patterns and vice versa. As observed by Kelly (1994),
transportation planning and land-use planning continue to take place quite
separately, even though new growth places added demands on transportation
infrastructure. This fragmented relationship reveals that even closely related land
based disciplines such as land-use and transportation planning are rarely integrated:
which also highlights the formidable challenge faced in any attempt to link land-use
decisions to water availability through two disciplines that deal in different media.
This thesis paper confronts that challenge as necessary to the maintenance of a
future in which water is revered for its sacred resonance as well as its physical
sustenance (G. Hobbs, personal communication, September 23, 2005).).
As outlined in Chapter 1.2, the act of subordinating water supply to land-use
has broad and severe consequences both within and beyond the boundaries of a city.
In fact, water supplies need not be available locally because of our capabilities in
moving the resource to where it is required in support of urban growth. As a result

of the disconnect, there is only a loose connection between local water availability
and growth ability.3
1.2 Significance of the Problem
After a yearlong set of informal meetings culminating in 2001, a focus group
of land and water professionals in New Mexico identified what they perceive as the
consequences of managing land and water separately. Their findings are
summarized as follows:
1. As a finite resource, water is becoming subject to increasing
2. Growth and development decisions that are made without
regard to water availability cannot properly balance water
demand with water supply.
3. When development decisions ignore consideration of water
it causes the local community to forfeit its own ability to
determine how scarce water resources are allocated.
4. Furthermore, when water allocation occurs by default, less
water is available for allocation in accordance with a
communitys priorities, such as affordable housing, riparian
areas, or parks.
5. Diffuse development patterns coupled with increased
competition for limited water supplies lead to loss of
farmland, traditional economies, cultural practices, fish and
wildlife habitat, and also the loss of values for the water
resource if it were to remain instream (Lucero, 2005, p. 447).
The significance of the land and water separation, or disconnect, can be
described from many different vantage points ranging from regional socioeconomic
and ecological impacts, similar localized effects within a community, to tensions in
3 Nichols et al. (2001) commented that "there is little to suggest that limited water supplies act as a
limit to growth in the modern West.. ..Similarly, there is little to suggest that an abundance of water
or water development in the modern West acts as a stimulus to growth (p.4).

the way a local government operates. Chapters 2 through 4 begin to place these
angles under the call of a unified voice for closing the disparity between our
treatment of land and water resources.
1.3 Research Statement
The far-reaching impacts of subordinating water management to land-use,
clearly underscore the need to incorporate water availability alongside a host of site
capacity attributes which are commonly analyzed in the land planning process
including: employment, housing, schools, transportation, the provision of parks, and
others. Drawing water supply considerations into the land-use forum is but a first
step. However, this move would begin to open water management to an inclusionary
process whereby alternative policy scenarios for obtaining the necessary water
supply would be subject to the same public participation provided in land-use
planning. As recognized by Tom Turney, former New Mexico State Engineer, the
land planners must take a leadership role in crafting solutions which link water
availability to growth management (New Mexico Chapter of the American Planning
Association, 1998). A fundamental reason to implicate the land-use planner is that
the initial design parameters for public water systems, including population
estimates and service area boundaries, are generally under the direct responsibility
of land planners and are used as the basis for the sizing of water infrastructure
facilities (Tabors, 1979).

The contribution of this thesis paper lies in its ability to bridge research and
practice by highlighting opportunities for change within local government structure.
To this end, the decision was made to perform applied research aimed at strategies
for increased coordination of a case municipalitys4 land-use planning and water
supply activities. This study utilized an organizational research platform centered on
a participatory mapping exercise which was used to gather the insight of
practitioners who work on land and water management in city government. By
deciphering the implementation disconnects at the local-level it is hoped that this
work can provide feedback to state legislators in re-setting a mandatory statutory
framework as an envelope of constraints within which all subsidiary government
levels must operate. Organizational research carried out in cooperation with the case
community may shed light on specific local government mechanisms which can be
1.4 Organization of the Thesis
This thesis paper centers on the municipal branch of local government,
lending emphasis to the water and growth disconnect in the Western United States
(the West), particularly Colorado. It is organized in a sequence that gives the reader
sufficient background to foster shared understanding of the subject. The initial
4 "Municipality", as defined in the 1975 Municipal Government Act, means a city or town and any
city, town, or city and county which has chosen to adopt a home rule charter pursuant to the
provisions of article XX of the state constitution.

chapters provide the groundwork laid out by the previous literature (Chapter 2), and
a more thorough personal examination for the state of Colorado focus area (Chapter
3). The materials and methods used to conduct original research, including the
theoretical roots for this type of study and the rationale for selecting the case
community illustration, are described in Chapter 4. The results derived from the
research are then presented in Chapter 5. This follows with an interpretive
examination of the findings and what they mean for water sustainable growth in
Chapter 6. The contributions of the thesis research culminate by sending a summary
message to land planners, water managers, and policy-makers in Chapter 7.

2. At the Intersection of Land-use and Water-
Supply: A Review of the Literature
Turning to previous works on the topic of a land and water use relationship,
we find that much of the literature emerges from legal and planning journals. Many
of these pieces describe the disconnect in a broad and general manner, and even
more use the state-layer government as their level of interest. Other compositions
bearing a scientific or engineering approach have involved associated aspects with
only loose ties to the actual separation as a problem to be solved directly. However,
recent works have begun to fill a surprisingly large void in the literature. Late last
year, Johnson and Loux (2004) published an application-oriented book covering the
methods for integration being used in California. In addition, Arnold (2005) edited a
book that gives a scholarly perspective on various approaches to integrated land and
water planning.
Two primary items can be gleaned from a review of the literature. The first
is an understanding of the complex regulatory structure which serves as a
framework for both the separation and the current opportunities for closing this gap
between land and water use. Waterman (2004) remarked that one important step
towards greater integration of long term land-use and water planning is
understanding the current regulatory scheme (p. 195).

Second, the literature produces specific tools for integration within the bottom tier
of the regulatory structure, the level at which this thesis centers upon.
In terms of the regulatory structure, the literature review reveals that the
disconnected management of land and water by local governments is nested within a
much larger context of governmental layers. The scales of governance involved with
the regulatory structure do not exist in isolation: and it is therefore instructive to
examine the interconnected role that each level provides. Generally, governance
takes place using a hierarchy of subsystems whereby the upper levels of government
hand down a framework of constraints to the level below, which then provides a
more specific implementation mechanism for the goal, in this case cohesive
management of land and water resources.
This review begins with a look into the federal governments historical
presence in the Wests land and water policy and regional governance over
watershed areas. It then moves to attempts at setting a planning framework using
examples from the states. Lastly, the review provides a rationale for focusing the
thesis research at the local level and gives a synopsis of strategies that have been
used by local governments in connecting water availability considerations to their
land-use planning authority.

2.1 Governing Land and Water along the Watershed
Under the Newlands Act of 1902, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)
pursued a federal land and water policy designed to promote re-settlement of the
Wests vast public lands by establishing an agrarian economy (Wilkinson, 1992).
The Reclamation Era, as it has come to be known, accommodated population
growth by developing the water supplies that made it possible to live and farm in an
arid to semi-arid region. The BORs strategy for carrying out these policies was
centered on engineering solutions to spatially redistribute the resource from water-
rich to water-short areas, in addition to temporally distributing snowmelt driven
supplies using massive storage projects. With the curtain now closed on the
Reclamation Era, generally recognized as the time period from the 1920s through
the 1970s, there is a marked end to federal involvement in the large water
development projects of the West. However, our water supply methods continue to
remain much the same. Tarlock (2000) commented that "the United States has a
long history of failed attempts to integrate water and land-use because we have
always opted for structural river development rather than integrated resource
management (p. 74): The reasoning behind the reliance on these tactics is that it
was easy for the central government to build water infrastructure, but it was

impossible for [the government] to [comprehensively] control basin development
because the watershed is not a political unit.
Many prominent academics5 and public officials have advocated scales of
governance which transcend traditional political constructs by forming jurisdiction
along watershed lines. Major John Wesley Powell, who helped set the stage for the
Reclamation Era, was arguably the most prodigious planner of federal land and
water policy in the West. The Powell et al. (1879) Report on the Lands of the Arid
Region of the United States would have shaped the re-settlement of the West based
on land capability, natural system constraints, and community cooperation. Despite
such early recognition of the regions aridity, to this day the West continues to be
settled without full consideration of water as a finite resource.
Furthermore, Powells plan called for dividing the land using the
topographic boundary of the watershed. Neuman (2004) re-examined John Wesley
Powells 1879 report to reveal lessons about our current land and water use
practices, ultimately recommending that we incorporate a modern version of some
of its cornerstone principles into future land-use decisions in order to better
accommodate the Wests aridity." The principles she identified include: (a)
recognizing the inherent limits of the West's limited water supply, (b) treating the
5 See, e.g., Kenney, D. S. (1995). Institutional options for the Colorado River. Water Resources
Bulletin, 31(5), 837-850; and White, G.F. (1957). A perspective of river basin development. Law and
Contemporary Problems, 22(2), 157-184.

boundaries of watersheds as important natural divides, and (c) treating watersheds
as units for political purposes (Neuman, 2005).
The basic idea behind Neumans proposal is the creation of new watershed
institutions which would be granted decision-making authority over areas
encompassing interstate river basins and tributary watersheds in both water and land
use domains. A true basinwide authority is surely most apt to be successful with the
integration of land and water management. However, the fruition of such
governmental arrangements has not been possible in most political climates since
the New Deal administration of the 1930s. Although ideal, the development of
"new watershed institutions or other regional planning authorities are not likely to
replace" the existence of "local governments as the primary regulators of land-use"
(Arnold, 2005).
2.2 Governing Land and Water at the State Level
A comprehensive statutory framework can potentially have a profound effect
on the amount of coordination realized in the management of the land and waters of
a state. In many respects however, a water management tack will be far less painful
than suggesting that growth should be managed6 on a statewide basis. Tarlock
(2005) lays out four scenarios generalizing what may occur as a result of heightened
tensions between urban growth and water scarcity. One of these predictions foresees
6As noted by Scott (1975) however, the ethic of growth in no longer being accepted
unquestioningly as a premise of progress (p.2).

water supply and growth issues becoming more linked at the state-level, but this will
likely be accomplished through the use of water supply strategies instead of growth
management (Tarlock, 2005). In other words, it may be difficult for water
management to transcend its role as merely a support system for urban growth.
Professor Tarlock entitles this scenario "Good news for planners", because the
burden of accommodating growth will rest with the water managers and public
officials will continue to allow water supply limits to go unquestioned.
Despite such grim forecasts, states can change this course using their pre-
eminent ability to establish a regulatory template that forms the constraint envelope
within which lower level governments must operate. This template can be set for
combinations of long-term planning and/or management of land, water, or both.
Again, the degree of coordination that occurs within a state spans a wide range.
Certain states have taken a more active role in strengthening the connection by
utilizing mandatory restrictions: Others provide technical assistance to their local
governments but remain advisory only. The following section gives a summary of a
few approaches used in states which have received assessments in the literature.
Florida (Chapter 2.2.1) and New Mexico (Chapter 2.2.2) were specifically selected
for literature review because they have been given the most thorough treatment by
previous authors.

2.2.1 Florida
Florida has established a regulatory framework for both land and water use
which relies on a mixture of watershed institutions, water use permitting, and
concurrency. Five water management districts have been created using watershed
boundaries to delineate management responsibilities. The districts administer water
use by a permit system for withdrawals that meet or exceed their own self-defined
threshold criteria. Water use permitting has been criticized for its emphasis on
engineering technologies as a substitute for comprehensive planning and
management. As noted by Angelo (2001), such permitting requirements are not
intended to take the place of prior-to-development land use controls which guide the
appropriate location, density, and intensity of new growth. Aside from their
permitting duties, the water management districts primarily serve in an
advisory/technical assistance capacity in regards to local land-use planning: and are
therefore hampered by having no grant of authority over land-use decisions.
Additionally, utilities and local governments hold the responsibility for new water
supply development rather than the districts.
Lastly, Florida uses a statewide concurrency system encompassing all
governing levels in the state. As water purveyors, the local governments are
required to conform the timing and location of development to the availability of
water servicing infrastructure. Strachan (2001) gives a thorough assessment

of concurrency, or adequate public facilities regulations, which includes Floridas
program. In his assessment, Strachan fails to recognize that there needs to be
concurrency of water availability, not simply the infrastructure to store and carry it.
Other literature, namely Angelo (2001), views this distinction as the major
drawback to adequate public facilities regulation, one which distinguishes it from
true planning for future land and water use. More recently, the Florida legislature
has taken positive steps to shepherd the preparation of local comprehensive plans
that are consistent with the districts water supply plans and which include a future
water supply needs assessment.
2.2.2 New Mexico
As New Mexico inches nearer to using the states apportionment of
Colorado River water (E. Lopez, personal communication, June 9, 2005),), it is
attempting to connect growth decisions with available water supplies by utilizing an
approach centered on multiple-scale planning, and supported by an assured water
supply requirement in its county-level subdivision regulations. Water supply
planning occurs at statewide, regional, and local government layers in New Mexico:
all of which are separate exercises with no formal link among the water plans or to
land-use planning in particular (Lucero, 1999). The Comprehensive State Water
Plan Act (2003) gave authorization to produce a comprehensive state water plan
containing measures for integrating the state and regional-level water plans. One

commentator remarked that implementation of the state plan may be hampered by
its own conflicting objectives (O'Leary, 2004).
In addition to the state plan, regional water plans are prepared by groups of
area water users under supervision by the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC).
Regional planning areas are delineated by the water user group based on
hydrological and political common interests (New Mexico Office of the State
Engineer, 2005). However, the regional water planning efforts have achieved an
uncommon amount of public participation with inclusionary discussions that have
not been confined to only those holding water rights. Despite buy-in from affected
communities, the regional water plans are plagued by a lack of regulatory potency.
There has been no statutory guidance for connecting the regional water plans with
local land use and development decisions made by city councilors and county
commissioners (Lucero & Tarlock, 2003, p. 823). Moreover, the regional water
plans are not tied to local comprehensive plans and have no relationship to the
development permitting process undertaken by local government or the issuance of
water right permits at the state level...and this gap between water and land-use
planning is the Achilles Heel in the process (Lucero, 1999, p. 879).
Lastly, the New Mexico Subdivision Act of 1978 requires land developers to
demonstrate an adequate water supply prior to subdivision approval. As will be
discussed in Chapter, this tactic can have some un-anticipated
consequences when used in isolation.

2.3 Integration of Land and Water Management
by Local Governments
With the majority of U.S. land under private ownership, local governments
have a practical capacity for connecting matters of water supply and urban growth.
The potential for evoking linkages at this level is rooted in the fact that local
governments are intended to act within the governmental scheme as the primary
public stewards of the nations private land base (Tarlock, 2002, p. 152).
This capacity extends further in Colorado where there has been a tradition of
state deference to local authority and control in matters of both land-use and water
supply. The motivation for using a municipal level of focus in the thesis study is a
product of this grant of deference. In this type of governance hierarchy, it is
becoming ever more apparent that the majority of decisions about land and water
use are being made within the confines of municipal decision-making bodies.
Moreover, the actual process of supplying water to new growth is predominantly
carried out by large municipalities, stemming from two specific functions of these
entities: (a) large municipalities are the primary purveyors of water supply in the
state, and (b) they are also the principal regulators of land-use. Planners recognize
that local governments are the only entities that are granted with widespread

capabilities for managing private lands7. In Colorado, the municipal branch of local
government often has ownership of extensive water rights portfolios as well.
Although it is an underutilized tandem of authority, having both land and water
supply within their grasp of command also gives municipalities the ability to
allocate their water supplies through land-use plan and build decisions. Whether the
community chooses economic vitality such as commercial-use job creation or
landscape amenities such as farms, fish, or recreation; cities and towns are capable
of harnessing this authority. For municipalities in Colorados Western Slope
substate region, the authority could be leveraged as a form of active area of origin
protection. Growth along the Front Range has long been accommodated by moving
the resource from water rich sourcewater communities in the Western Slope to
water short basins in the Eastern Slope of the Continental Divide. Counteracting
detrimental impacts of these trans-basin water projects may, for instance, require the
allocation of water to a sourcewater communities recreational economic base.
Tarlock and Lucero (2002) reason that the recent wave of Smart Growth programs
may be a venue for community-based efforts to incorporate water availability into
their blueprint for the future. However, local government success in controlling their
own water-dependent destiny will require a great deal of collaboration between
water and land-use divisions both within and beyond municipal borders. As
described by Tarlock (2002), overcoming jurisdictional constraints requires local
7Cullingworth (1993) remarked that the striking feature of American local government is its
independence (p. 13).

land-use authority to be exercised within the vertical hierarchy that is the subject of
this review, and also leveraged spatially in partnership with neighboring locales.
2.3.1 Applied Linkage Strategies
At the mechanistic level in the regulatory hierarchy, the literature also
describes what types of coordination are being accomplished out on the local
landscape. This section provides a synopsis of specific techniques that have been
employed in connecting water servicing considerations to land-use actions, and also
refers the reader to some noteworthy examples for personal study. Long Term Planning
A long term planning horizon allows communities to anticipate and prepare
for the future. Typically, municipal land-use bodies have a division known as long-
range or policy planning which produces the comprehensive plan This plan is
essentially a policy statement that is to be used in decision-making to guide the
physical development of the community. Cullingworth (1993) noted that policy,
particularly land-use policy, is a matter only for the local government: no higher
level of government is generally involved (p. 14). Furthermore, the plan is
comprehensive in the sense that it is meant to coordinate all the mechanisms that
collectively enable a community to function. Both land-use and water utilities are
common elements included in this comprehensive plan. 8
8 Hereafter, the terms comprehensive, general, and master plan are used interchangeably depending
on the conventions in a particular states planning enabling legislation.
18 Water Consistent Comprehensive Plans
In many respects, the comprehensive plan can serve as a central policy
framework for embodying water supply considerations. Because the comprehensive
plan is viewed by the courts as justification for land-use decisions, it effectively
adds a defensible rationale to implementing the plan policies with land-use controls.
Similarly important are the products associated with the plan that are utilized in the
daily activities of planning practitioners as instruments in guiding development. The
first of these products are future population projections which can be translated into
future water demands. The centrality of population projections was emphasized by
Tabors (1979):
In the course of planning for water systems... no calculation is more
important in the sizing of the system than the projection of future
ultimate population. Population size frequently depends on
infrastructure development as much as the size of infrastructure
investment depends on the size of the population (p. 186).
Despite the social, environmental, and financial ramifications of
overestimating growth, there is a tendency to develop population projections which
represent full build out of the land. These projections specifically serve as the basis
for water supply planning and may result in future water requirements which are
unrealistically over inflated. Readers interested in applying a more accurate land-use
mapping method are referred to Johnson and Loux (2004).

Second, comprehensive plans can include a water supply element which
addresses both infrastructure and acquisitions. In comparison to acquisitions, water
infrastructure can require use of the land and thus has a more tactile (physical and
spatial) connection with land planning. Water system master plans are
commonplace and typically guide infrastructure capacity to meet the requirements
anticipated in the future land-use map. Unlike land-use planning however, water
supply planning does not generally provide explicit opportunities for public
involvement by current city water users who have ownership in the process, or
sourcewater communities who are not part of the municipal electorate. Most
importantly, alternative policy scenarios for obtaining the necessary water supplies
are not subject to broad evaluation and public participation. The City of Woodland,
California provides an example of a municipality that has taken a more participatory
approach to defining acquisitions scenarios.9 Readers seeking to develop an
integrated water supply plan are referred to an excellent general resource and set of
standards for planning sustainable water supplies by Daniels and Daniels (2003). In
many cases, the adoption of comprehensive plans that are consistent with water
supply constraints can be an over-arching technique for land-use and water
servicing coordination.
See, e.g., Zeier, K. (1999). Future water supply development (reconnaissance level) No. 94-16:.
Unpublished report. City of Woodland, CA Utilities Division.
20 Short Term Planning
Planning in the short term is a process whereby the policies and broad-brush
actions articulated in a comprehensive plan are carried out in the practice of land-
use control. Short term, or current planning as it is commonly known, begins prior
to a development action and continues to shepherd that project through the
construction phase. As such, short term planning is an exercise in using regulatory
land-use controls in an attempt to ensure the community vision is effectuated. The
recent literature, as reviewed in the following section, announces a variety of land-
use controls that have been designed to function in coordination with the water
servicing function of municipal governments. Assured Water Supply Requirement
An assured water supply requirement operates on the premise that
development approvals are contingent upon a showing of adequate water
availability and delivery. States that have taken the position that water supply is an
issue of statewide importance commonly use a variation of this type of regulation.
Arizona, for instance, has designated Active Management Areas in which it
requires that all new subdivisions demonstrate a 100-year supply of water,
primarily from renewable sources, before a plat can be approved (Jacobs &
Holway, 2004, p. 11). Recent literature highlights the drawbacks of such programs.

Tarlock and Van de Wetering (1999) observed that the Arizona water supply
requirement initially triggered a race to acquire water ranches and other new
sources of supply (p. 177). Thompson (2005) elaborates that encouraging
developers to seek out new water such policies can have external environmental and
socio-econonomic effects on sourcewater communities. Moreover, unless and until
states develop effective protections against these harms, land use planning policies
that encourage new water imports, transfers, or projects may protect local residents
at a cost to residents or the environment elsewhere(Thompson, 2005, p. 116).
In response to decreased federal involvement in water projects, Tarlock
(2005) notes that state and local governments are shifting some of these [water
supply] responsibilities and costs directly to the land development industry, the
consequences of which are important but variable and difficult to predict (p. 70).
Lucero and Tarlock (2003) reiterate that this burden shift appears to treat new water
use as a game in which a win for one party is a loss for another. In this sense,
assured water supply requirements may only be a short term patch to a long term
problem. Although urban development can be required to pay its way in water,
states will have to couple this technique by also constructing a means to account for
broader public impacts in the administration of water appropriations and transfers.

In Colorado for instance, the water courts have generally placed the protection of
the citizens right to appropriate above any such public right to water.10
Examples of the varied forms of assured water supply requirements abound
among the states. In Colorado, both Douglas and El Paso counties have adopted
regulations designed to implement a statute pertaining to subdivision water supply
requirements. The El Paso County approach is detailed further in Chapter 3.3. A
number of municipalities in Colorado such as: Brighton, Commerce City, and
Firestone, have also utilized similar requirements on their own accord. Experience
in these cities suggests that the mere presence of land developers in the water
market can cause the price of water to skyrocket (Water Resources Acquisitions
Administrator, personal communication, October 7, 2005). Outside of Colorado,
more divergent variations are present. Readers seeking further illustrations are
directed to a regulation adopted in 2002 by the City of Santa Fe, NM entitled the
Annual Water Budget Ordinance and also to a Frederick, MD regulation, the Water
Allocation Ordinance of 2002, which resembles the approaches customarily seen in
the Western U.S.
10 See, e.g., People v. Emert, 597 P. 2d 1025 (Colo. 1979).
23 Concurrency Regulation
As summarized in Chapter 2.2.1 on the statewide Florida system,
concurrency regulations are a form of phased growth program aimed at controlling
the timing and placement of new development. The purpose of concurrency is to
ensure that necessary public infrastructure is in place at the time new developments
are occupied. Although phasing can be based on all types of public facilities, the
availability of water infrastructure is often used as a public service which dictates
the phasing of urban growth. In the late 1960s the Town of Ramapo, New York,
adopted an intricate concurrency system which was upheld by the states highest
court in Golden v. Ramapo Planning Board (1972). This landmark decision serves
as a solid legal foundation for growth management programs to this day.
Consequently, one need not look far for other examples of concurrency. Both the
City of Fort Collins and the surrounding Larimer County practice a similar type of
adequate public facilities regulation.
It is, however, debatable whether concurrency regulations offer the most
effective means for collectively managing land and water use. When placement of
water servicing is used in combination with annexation policies, concurrency
regulations have the ability to address growth which lies beyond the municipal
water service area. In addition, concurrency gives land-use planners an avenue for
considering water and growth in unison. On the other hand, concurrency regulations

suffer from their emphasis on water infrastructure, which is simply a function of
public expenditures. When the real issue becomes the finite limits of water
availability, these regulations may not have much to offer. Water Moratorium
The right of a water purveyor to deny service varies on a state by state basis
and may also depend on the scope of denial and the type of purveyor. First, water
moratoriums11 can be categorized based on their spatial extent. Service denials can
take place within a purveyors designated water service area12 (WSA) or the
purveyor may choose not to extend service to new areas beyond that boundary. A
water purveyors obligation to extend services outside its borders is likely much less
than it would be inside the WSA. Second, water utilities may be held under private,
investor, or municipal ownership. Due to these subtleties, a particular statutory
regime and local case law may treat these entities with varied authority over water
service denials. Herman (1992) focuses on the nuances of California to analyze the
legal guideposts for imposing moratoria on new water taps and building permits due
to water availability concerns. The author concludes that a growth management
strategy based on limiting access to water service is not a viable strategy in the long
11 While a moratorium is generally regarded as a regulatory tool which prohibits new development,
the term water moratorium is used to refer to a prohibition on new water service connections.
12 Water service areas typically share consistent boundaries with their affiliated jurisdiction. For
instance, the city limits would be the same as the service area limits.

term. Based on the analysis, communities "would be better advised to confront the
problem [of growth impacts] explicitly" at their land-based roots (Herman, 1992, p.
450). Daniels and Daniels (2003) assert that the extension of public water service
can promote more intensive development and even sprawl (p. 95). In examining
the power of cities to deny water service extension beyond their borders, Biggs
(1990) came to a conclusion similar to Herman (1992). This analysis is particularly
relevant to cities and their surrounding county governments when the two
jurisdictions have conflicting growth policies. The author reasons that because
"other sources of water utility services can also be developed in areas where cities
decline to extend services...comprehensive planning is a better approach" (Biggs,
1990, p. 304). Thompson (2005) further elaborates that water moratoria are only
effective within the time frame when an actual water shortage is taking place. Once
the water supply is increased, however, new growth again can occur (Thompson,
2005, p. 118). Arnold (2005) explains that the primary reason for water moratoria to
prove ineffective in controlling growth is that economic pressures often make this
tactic politically unacceptable. Commentators tend to agree that moratoria on water
services have met with varied success, whereas moratoria on land development have
shown promise.
26 Land Development Moratorium
Moratoria on new development itself have been viewed as more permissible
than relying solely on a halt in water connections. It is commonplace for local
governments to enact development moratoria in order to delay growth until such
time as preparations have been made for its proper management and servicing. A
deficiency in water supply capacity or other public facilities is typically a sufficient
reason to adopt a development moratorium provided that it is in place for a
reasonable time period. In the leading case taking this position, Tahoe-Sierra
Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (2002), the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld a temporary moratorium which did not strip property owners
of all productive use of the land, finding that its objective was to promote effective
planning. Based on this decision, Hervic (2003) suggests that a carefully crafted
development moratorium can be a successful tool in collectively managing land and
water resources where the circumstances warrant a temporary halt on
development (p. 53).
27 Land-use Authority over Water
In Colorado, counties are granted statutory review and approval authorities
over the siting, design, and construction of water project facilities in addition to a
host of other development activities. The origins of county control of these issues
began in 1974 when the Colorado General Assembly enacted House Bill (H.B.)
1041, the Areas and Activities of State Interest Act. H.B.1041 delegates powers to
the county-level government for supervision of land use with regard to areas and
activities of state interest, or those which may have an impact on the people of the
state that is beyond the immediate scope of the project. Boulder County, for
example, has adopted regulations for areas and activities of state interest within
Article 8 of the county land use code. As a result, the county will now conduct
location and extent reviews to determine whether public or quasi-public utilities or
uses proposed to be located in the unincorporated area of the County are in
conformance with the Comprehensive Plan (Boulder County Areas and Activities
of State Interest Ordinance, 2003). The first major test of county 1041 authority
began in the case of City of Colorado Springs, et al. v. Board of County
Commissioners of Eagle County (1994). In 1988, Eagle County denied a 1041
permit for the development of a trans-basin water diversion project in the Holy
Cross Wilderness Area. In a 1995 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately

upheld the county adopted land-use regulation, announcing that it did not interfere
with the exercise of water rights as applied. An example of an alternative to the
Colorado approach can be found in Florida where the state maintains lead control
over local governments in designated areas of critical state concern (ACSC). Non-regulatory Tools
Local governments also have a number of non-regulatory tools at their
disposal which deserve brief mention. These widely used techniques include
familiar programs such as: direct land acquisition, conservation easements, and
transfer of development rights. While these may be more applicable to source-water
quality or riparian protection, it seems plausible that non-regulatory approaches can
be used to exclude land that is problematic to service. Hervic (2003) suggests their
use in protection of habitat from growth related impacts.

3. The Regulatory Envelope in Colorado
In its new role as a water manager rather than a water developer, the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation analyzed population growth, precipitation and climate data,
and endangered species needs to identify the entire Front Range of Colorado as a
high potential water supply crises and conflict area by the onset of 2025 (U.S.
Department of the Interior, 2003). Despite this characterization of water supply
vulnerability, Colorado has a comparatively lax approach for attempting to avert its
growth-induced water challenges.
Table 3.1 displays a summary of the jurisdictional separation of authority in
matters of land-use and water supply as it relates to Colorado. Although large cities
are often the primary water purveyors and principal regulators of land-use, Colorado
is a permissive, not mandatory, municipal planning state. What remains as a
rudimentary state-established framework for land-use planning, requires the county
governments to adopt subdivision regulations and a master plan. An assured water
supply requirement in the county-level subdivision regulations serves as the states
primary land and water use link. By placing emphasis with the counties, Colorado
continues a common theme in its regulatory lineage.

Table 3.1: Governmental Layers and the Disconnect
Level of Governance Planning and Management
Upper Levels Land Use Water
Federal Currently non-existent but revived interest Manage not develop
Watershed Non-existent Non-existent
State Delegate to local control (counties) SWSI compilation of local water provider strategies
County Mandatory planning; subdivision regulations 1041 Authority; Adequate water supply requirements
Municipal Permissive but planning powers Primary water providers
3.1 Absence of Integrated Land and Water-
At the state-level, there is a distinct absence in long term planning for
water13 let alone planning for land and water use in a coordinated fashion. The
distinguished water expert, David Getches, remarked that it is "inappropriate to use
a state's public resources like water as a competitive tool to "win" growth away from
other communities: A state planning process can protect values better and make
wiser, more efficient decisions than a single local government or [special] district
concerned with competition for new growth" (Getches, 1988, p. 37). As former
Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, David
Getches call for comprehensive state water planning contained the practical
BIn comparison to long-range land-use planning, water supply planning is mainly non-existent in
much of the Western United States. Here, planning for water supply is more of reactionary exercise
in finding and developing new water than shaping how our water future will look.

credibility of someone who would have likely led the march for reform of the state
planning and management framework. Getches (1988) analysis suggested a process
for water planning that resembles the Rational-Comprehensive model originating in
the methods of land-use planning. In this model, the primary benefit of establishing
a state framework for water planning rests in a binding projection of future water
needs which would prevent a community from overinflating its requirements and
overdeveloping publicly-valued supplies. In contrast, the states version of water
planning is currently being moved forward in an effort known as the Statewide
Water Supply Initiative (SWSI). The SWSI is an 18-month watershed-based study
to inventory existing water supplies, projections of future water needs, and to
compile the solutions which local water providers intend to use in meeting identified
shortages (Colorado Water Conservation Board, 2004). Although the SWSI contains
many of the elements expected of active water planning, it falls short of achieving
this characterization on several counts as follows:
1. In keeping with Colorados traditional deference to local authority and
control, the SWSI does not intend for the state to accept the burden of
meeting these future water needs: and the task of water acquisitions and
development remains within the sole and fragmented responsibility of local
water providers. In comparison to Getches vision, the SWSI therefore
leaves Colorado with un-refereed competition for the remaining water
supply sources.

2. Moreover, the SWSI compilation effort is informational only, providing no
explicit guidance for use of the findings by water providers. Without an
obligatory structure it risks a likely fate of going unused by its target
audience, the local water providers.
3. Finally, the SWSI strategies do not go beyond the states long-standing
reliance on water augmentation strategies to solve problems that are
perpetuated by continued growth and development. SWSI reinforces the
institutional separation between land-use and water supply actions, forcing
us to deal with a collective problem in a disconnected manner. As expressed
by Nichols et al. (2001), "giving adequate consideration to all options can
implicate issues that are outside of the normal purview of water managers,
such as land-use management" (p. xiv).
Despite its problems of implementation and limited strategy options, the
SWSI does provide us with a more broad statewide view of our water availability
challenges. Whether this picture translates into sound policy adjustments by the
legislature remains to be seen.
3.2 Water Availability Requirement
Colorado has a long history of bottom-up control and delegation to local
governments in matters of both land and water use. This history is visible in
legislation such as the Areas and Activities of State Interest Act (1974), the Local

Government Land Use Control Enabling Act (1974), and more recently in the SWSI
project. In Colorado it is the municipalities that hold authority as both the primary
water purveyors and principal regulators of land-use actions. But in crafting a way
to deal with the interconnected nature of land and water use, the state has deferred to
county control instead. As a result, the Colorado approach suffers from both
jurisdictional constraints and a lack of direct control over water supplies. County
jurisdiction is confined to unincorporated areas which are not otherwise governed at
the municipal government level. Despite this limitation, the subdivision regulations
do address the land-water disconnect where its impact is most pronounced, in the
rapidly growing unincorporated areas of Colorado counties. In actuality, these land
areas perform a key role in watershed function and are often critical to traditional
rural lifestyles such farming and ranching.
The regulatory land and water use connection in the counties is formed by a
number of related statutes. First, the Local Government Land Use Control Enabling
Act of 1974 mandates the creation of county planning commissions and the
adoption of a "master plan for the physical development of the unincorporated
territory of the county." Section (3) (a) (IV) advises that the master plan include a
water supply element "showing the general location and extent of an adequate and
suitable supply of water." This provision could be satisfied by simply identifying a
local water storage reservoir. Furthermore, the statute encourages the county
planning commission to coordinate the plan element with the separate municipal

water suppliers, mainly for infrastructure planning purposes. Again, city
government involvement in land and water coordination could only be leveraged if
the municipalities adopted the more regional water supply element of the county
master plan. As seen in California, a strong water supply element can be a useful
tool for counties when making a preliminary review of proposed water supplies to
serve land-use actions. More generally, the master plan can effectively add a
defensible component to land use decisions when utilized in conjunction with land
use controls as the means of effectuating the plan. In this case, the complementary
land use control is the water availability requirement of the subdivision regulations.
The Colorado Subdivision Act of 1974 is the keystone component of
Colorados land and water use mandate. This piece of legislation requires all
counties to promulgate subdivision regulations. Section (6) (a) makes county
subdivision approval contingent upon proof of available water supply. Specifically,
it requires that subdividers submit to the county, "adequate evidence that a water
supply that is sufficient in terms of quality, quantity, and dependability will be
available to ensure an adequate supply of water for the type of subdivision
proposed" (Sect. 30-28-133-6a). The use of the term adequate holds critical legal
and functional value for this mandate. Again deferring to local control, the
legislature did not define the meaning of "adequate." This move has important
implications because it leaves open the opportunity for community-defined water
needs whereby public values may be recognized. By setting its own criteria for

adequacy, a community is capable of furthering the policy goals established through
its planning process. However, the use of this measure for such purposes remains a
largely underutilized opportunity, and few communities have capitalized by taking
the initiative to define adequacy for themselves. In contrast, what is apparent on
the landscape is that the water availability requirement has had some unintended
negative consequences. Forcing developers to bring water as a condition of
development approval places the burden of supplying water in the hands of those
who have the capital to do so, but they are not expected to make informed decisions
about land and water allocation in the broader interest of the public at large. Instead,
water acquisitions by land developers are subject only to the market. Such a practice
severs the water supply decision from a land use forum where the public interest can
be considered. Additionally, the presence of land developers in the water market can
fuel a race to the bottom, especially when more senior agricultural water rights are
targeted to meet the necessity of a reliable domestic supply. According to a
respondent with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the water availability
requirement has facilitated agricultural to urban-use transfers and the dry-up of
farms (SWSI Study Manager, personal communication, September 17, 2004). This
consequence appears to be an area which the state is scrutinizing for possible policy
The last components of the water availability mandate are the referral and
review requirements of the Colorado Subdivision Act (1974), which order

consultation with the state engineer prior to county subdivision approval (Sect. 30-
28-136). The state engineer has provided a great deal of guidance on what is to be
included in the water supply submittals. Whereas all subdivision proposals
previously required a detailed water supply report, recent changes now exempt
many proposals to include only a one-page information summary (Simpson,
March 4, 2005). The state engineer is responsible for reviewing all subdivision
water supply proposals for consistency with state water information, court decrees,
and other criteria, ultimately issuing an opinion on two matters: (a) material injury
likely to occur to existing decreed water rights, and (b) "adequacy of the proposed
water supply to meet requirements of the proposed subdivision." Measure (a) only
acts as an assurance check because the state engineers rules make it necessary to
obtain a final court decree, prior to submitting plans for subdivision. For measure
(b) the issue in the determination is limited to the reliability of the water supply
unless the county has adopted a more stringent definition of adequate (Sect. 30-
28-136). Moreover, the state engineers opinion is only an advisory statement and
counties therefore have the ability to approve a subdivision regardless of the state
engineers determination. However, in the unlikely event that a county chooses to
disregard this statement, the state engineers determination must be disclosed to all
potential buyers of property within the subdivision.

3.3 Colorado Counties Empowered to Define
Water Supply Adequacy
El Paso County, Colorado is at the forefront of local governments which
have taken full advantage of their authority granted under the subdivision water
availability requirement. Mayo (1990) wrote an excellent synopsis of the El Paso
County approach, identifying its basis for developing a legal definition of adequacy
and making instructive observations on the countys course of action.
As a consulting hydrogeologist and land-use planner for El Paso County,
Mayo was working closely with the county practitioners in helping to craft a
regulation that would collectively manage water dependent land-use actions. In his
account, the premise for the approach hinges on the Board of County
Commissioners [recognizing] that a dependable water supply is critical for the long
term viability and economic health of [a] new urban area. (Mayo, 1990, p. 203).
Because counties are not in the business of purveying water, the ability to
regulate a water and growth management connection is a necessary authority in
maintaining a reliable supply. This is especially true when the sources of additional
water supplies do not provide an acceptable or feasible solution after the mounting
economic, social, and environmental costs have been tallied. As an additional factor
in this case, the city of Colorado Springs was maintaining water connection/
annexation policies that were facilitating extraterritorial fringe growth in an

un-served area of the county. In a November 1986 response, El Paso County
adopted a defensible regulation which requires an adequate water supply as a
precondition for residential subdivision approval. The regulation does not go as far
as requiring water from renewable sources such as surface water or tributary
groundwater. Instead, the county has defined "adequate" as sufficient water to meet
project needs for a period of 300 years, regardless of the water source (El Paso
County Land Development Code, 1986). The planning commission's determination
of adequacy is supported by a set of established criteria for use when reviewing
water supply proposals. Most notably, "renewable sources meet the 300 year
standard on face value" (Mayo, 1990, p. 206). The state engineers review, however,
makes a more informed determination based on whether the water can actually be
delivered in relation to legal and physical constraints. The state engineer may also
consider, but is not obligated to follow County Land Development Codes or Rules
such as the 300 year water supply requirement (Simpson, March 4, 2005). This
instructs us that the adoption of a county water supply requirement doesnt
necessarily broaden the scope of the state engineers advisory review. In the El Paso
county situation, the state engineer held the position that the county should
determine for itself what constitutes "adequate" (Mayo, 1990). This implies that
counties would be well advised to take responsibility for making an accurate
hydrological determination on their own.

The El Paso County regulation was immediately challenged in court. In the
last of long line of ensuing cases, Cherokee Water and Sanitation District v. El Paso
County (1988), the Division Two Court of Appeals upheld the county water supply
requirement, finding that it was designed to insure that no development takes place
where there are not adequate water supplies for the future. Because the state
legislature was silent on the meaning of "adequate", the opportunity is open for
community-defined water needs instead. The implications of this ruling are that
counties have the ability to establish criteria for a determination on what comprises
an adequate water supply for a subdivision.

4. Research Materials and Methods
4.1 Research Objectives
Based on the context laid out in the preceding chapters, it is apparent that the
immediate means for addressing the separation between our management of land
and water use occurs within the confines of existing legal constructs including: the
deeply entrenched priority system for appropriating water, and a divergent system
governing land management. In the absence of a comprehensive statutory
framework for unified land-use and water planning processes, local practices and
initiatives are currently determining how the Colorado landscape evolves under the
influence of urban growth. This thesis research focuses on opportunities for
organizational coordination within a municipal government in recognition of the
magnitude of local forces and the potential for regulating linkages at this level. The
specific research subject was a municipalitys process of supplying water to new
urban growth. The process disconnect has been generalized in a case study of New
Mexico in which Lucero and Tarlock (2003) recognized the traditional relationship
between water policy and urban growth, which was, if they come (as we fervently
desire), we will supply them (p. 804). The inherent fallacy in this process is that it
assumes that water can always be obtained in support of the urban growth.
Moreover, although the process disconnect has been recognized in previous

literature, to my knowledge the thesis research is the first attempt to document the
disconnect with the detail necessary to understand and possibly counteract it. Key
public officials were actively enlisted to obtain tacit organizational knowledge in
answering two research questions as follows: First, what are the functional
relationships between a citys divisions and their activities in the process of
supplying water for new urban growth? Second, at what points14 in the land
development timeline are land and water use linkages most likely to be formed? The
significance of answering these research questions is three-fold:
1. Coordination of municipal activities could make the water suppliers task
less difficult, particularly if given the ability to weigh-in on decisions about
growth, rather than furiously keeping pace with it.
2. Coordination could lead to a decreased need for new water development.
3. Coordination may potentially leave a greater share of water for a
communitys values.
Additionally, it is hoped that the answers to the research questions can begin
to inform both policy and future research on the collective management of land and
water use. Both of these media hold a central position in maintaining the quality of
life that has come to be expected by the Wests traditional people and its new
inhabitants alike. As a result of demographic change, the new western region is
14 This second research question was greatly influenced by early discussions with Craig A. Arnold at
Chapman University School of Law. According to Professor Arnold, the most useful contribution to
the literature will be identifying points in the land-use planning process where water availability
considerations can be incorporated (C.A. Arnold, personal communication, July 14, 2004).

currently undergoing a shift in values emphasizing the landscapes innate natural
beauty. Progress towards this goal is encompassed in a concept I call water
sustainable growth and development. Practically speaking, this term is about
connecting land and water use in feasible ways, which the research at hand
addresses using a bottom-up approach in line with the State of Colorados strong
tradition of local control.
4.2 Criteria for Conducting the Research
By establishing criteria adapted from Leedy and Ormrod (2001), data were
produced which meet the research objectives set forth above. These criteria are as
1. PurposefulnessThe nature of the research questions drive the methods
used to collect and analyze the data.
2. CompletenessThe research questions are framed within their broader
3. ReliabilityThe research instrument produces consistently reproducible
4. Validity The research methods yield data which reflects the research
subject as it actually occurs.
5. UsefulnessThe research yields conclusions that promote better
understanding of the disconnect between the management of land and

water use in city government and also the potential interventions for
addressing the disconnect.
4.3 Research Materials
The materials used in this research are in two bundles. The first bundle is
that which is necessary to conduct original research according to the criteria
established in the previous section. This category includes both legal and academic
literature in addition to ordinances and other planning documents. Academic
literature was relied upon to explain the network of scales in which land and water
use must be addressed and relevant community practices which have been utilized at
the local scale of study (see Chapter 2). The second bundle of materials was used to
actively conduct the original analysis portion of this research endeavor. Planning
documents for the study community were reviewed as a form of coarse content
analysis. This information was then used to guide in the administration of the
research instrument which is detailed in Chapter 4.4.4.
4.4 Methodology
In accord with the purposefulness criterion, a research foundation was
developed by drawing upon procedures commonly used in disciplines where similar
research questions are posed. The following sections describe the methodological
basis used to operationalize the original thesis inquiry, placing it within the context
of widely practiced methods for organizational, action, and participatory research.

4.4.1 Organizational Research
The thesis research questions involved the study of an organizational
process, and are therefore naturally embedded within the methods generally used for
organizational research. This type of study emerged from the fields of occupational
and organizational psychology, business management, and management science. Of
particular methodological relevance, Meyer and Goes (1988) undertook
organizational research which examined the assimilation of medical innovations
into hospital organizations over time. In this studys early stages, it was found that
respondents' accounts of organizational situations could be severely constrained by
their vantage point in the process. Faced with this situation, the researchers were
able to develop their own mental map of the study system, translate those
hypotheses into flowcharts, and then have respondents make corrections to the
flowcharts. These visual displays were then used as instruments for collecting more
specific data about decision-making within the organization (Meyer, 1991).
Respondents went on to identify key decision points, decision-makers, and to
generally assist in interpreting the visual displays (Meyer & Goes, 1988). These
procedures used by Meyer and Goes were influential in shaping the data gathering
methods used in the thesis research. In this case the research subject is a specific
organizational process rather than variables, which helps to capture the complexity
of the organization itself (Hartley, 1994).

4.4.2 Action and Participatory Methods
The relevant procedures used in organizational studies are more generally
associated with action research and its subsidiaries. Reason and Bradbury (2001)
identified three qualities indicative of action research: it is (a) participatory, (b)
grounded in experience, and (c) action-oriented. The first quality, that inquiry be
participatory, lends an approach to action research in which practitioners in
organizations function as collaborating researchers rather than test subjects. The
second quality, that inquiry be grounded in experience, is highly attractive when
theory and research are intended to infiltrate professional practice. The thesis
research embraces both of these qualities on the grounds that tacit professional
experience can produce solutions which are more acceptable to the organization.
Lastly, the original research was action-oriented under Reason and Bradburys third
quality, but placed far more emphasis on participation than the resulting outcome.
The research was given this emphasis with the belief that the organization itself
must determine its own goals for use of the research outcomes.
Participatory action research, or PAR, is another methodological strain
which uses participatory techniques for collecting data. In PAR the
researcher/consultant is not acting in the role of an elitist expert as most applied
research directs. Instead, the researcher serves as a facilitator in building teamwork

and mobilizing participants expertise from throughout the organization (Whyte,
Greenwood, & Lazes, 1991). The researcher/consultant also acts in deriving
solutions to the organizations challenges by situating him/herself on the fence
between internal and external vantage points. As observed by Whyte et al. (1991),
an organizations ground rules are likely to inhibit creative solutions to internal
problems. Likewise, participatory research can capitalize on this social construct
because it is often the case that respondents will offer more controversial ideas to
the research consultant than could possibly be vocalized within the organizations
own ranks. Additionally, participatory research methods are thought to be
appropriate and philosophically aligned with the state planning framework in
Colorado, where the state has historically delegated a high level of planning
authority to local governments. Cornwall and Jewkes (1995) describe participatory
research as having this same emphasis on bottom-up actions derived from locally
defined priorities and local perspectives" (p. 1). Following this line of thought into
method development for the thesis, Yu (2004) wrote of his own participatory
procedures that active participants are engaged with a form of self-reflecting
inquiry to create a collective way of learning process which is [both] supportive
and critical in a given situation. Thus, it generates the collective way of thinking and
acting with the learning model that leads participants to visualize the operations of
the organization(p. 12).

4.4.3 Visual Methods
With the thesis inquiry now buttressed by organizational, action, and
participatory research, visual data collection techniques were also explored further
in recognition that organizational processes can often be more easily depicted than
verbalized. Meyer (1991) urges organizational researchers to collect data from
human subjects in the form of visual representations such as diagrams because
respondents have been shown to be more capable of providing meaningful
information through the use of visual representations than would be obtained using
verbal communication alone.
Outside of organizational studies, visual methods have been used in
environment-behavior research for the design fields such as architecture, landscape
architecture, and urban planning. Sanoff and Coates (1971) utilized a technique
called behavioral mapping to record and display how children relate-to and use the
designed features of a physical urban space. Another spatial mapping technique
entitled cognitive, or mental, mapping is exemplified in the work of Lynch (1960).
In cognitive mapping, a human subject is asked to create a visual representation of
physical urban space, a map based on their own perception. The conclusion that the
researcher draws from this representation is that the information which holds
significance for the subject is restricted to that which is present in the display they
have created (Sanoff, 1991).

Consequently, cognitive mapping in its traditional sense is not appropriate for
understanding the process under study. If the aforementioned technique for
cognitive mapping had been used in the thesis research, the resulting image would
be likely to document only the disconnected activities of each separate city division.
Contrary to this outcome, the aim here was to document how all land and water
divisions serve an interconnected role in the process under study: and to facilitate an
understanding of linkages which could mitigate an organizations divisional
tensions. With this goal in mind, it was necessary to provide a visual stimulus, or
base map, which enabled the subject to reflect on the broader whole of their own
divisions activities.
4.4.4 Organizational Mapping Exercise
In order to conduct original research, an organizational mapping exercise
was developed as a participatory research instrument. This exercise is best described
as a visually facilitated interview and activity. The resulting exercise represents the
principal investigators approach to combining appropriate visual, organizational,
and participatory research methods. Visually, this organizational mapping exercise
provided an easier way to conceptualize the broad interplay between land and water
use issues in city government. Additionally, the activity helped to engage the city
government members as participants in formulating opportunities for coordination
between related city activities.
49 Research Procedures
The research instrument is comprised of both visual and verbal components.
A simple flow diagram, or visual base map, is used to represent a particular city
organizations process of supplying water to new growth and development. The
base map was developed using two initial informational interviews with both a land
planner and a water planner in addition to a review of the citys comprehensive
plan. One of the original base maps is provided in Appendix A. The initial
informational interviews made it apparent that land planners are not used to thinking
about their water management counterparts, and vice versa. Therefore, verbal
administration of the organizational mapping exercise took place with the base map
as a starting point for answering the research questions and thus served as a visual
stimulus for both the respondents and researchers. A complete description of the
administration procedures, including the instructions given to participants, is located
in Appendix B. The setting for exercise administration was typically in the
respondents work environment. The organizational mapping exercise began with
the principal investigator guiding the respondent through the land-use and water
servicing process depicted in the flow diagram. A series of activities and questions
followed in which the respondent made corrections to the base map that more
accurately showed the functional relationships between the citys divisions and
divisional activities in the process of supplying water for new growth.

Similar procedures were used in the second portion of the exercise. Here,
respondents were asked to identify specific points, or nodes, in the land
development timeline where land and water use linkages are most likely to be
formed. Visual and verbal data were collected in several forms as follows: the
respondents drawings and notations on the base map, drawings and notations made
by the principal investigator on a separate base map, recordings of the sessions, and
the principal investigators field notes.
4.4A.2 Validity and Reliability of the Methodology
The resulting functional relationships and linkage nodes are purely
qualitative in that no attempt was made to assign a numerical value to the data.
Consequently, the validity of the research methods lies in the ability of the data to
reflect the citys true land-use and water servicing process and likely linkage nodes.
A number of measures were taken to augment validity. First, key respondents were
selected based on their intimate knowledge of the study process. In a description of
PAR, Whyte et al. (1991) notes that participatory methods require researchers to go
through a rigorous process of checking the facts with those [holding] firsthand
knowledge (p. 41). Additionally, "practitioners often bring the pursuit of irrelevant
of ill-conceived lines of inquiry to a rapid halt, correcting or refining the questions
asked in ways that lead to sharper formulation and more productive
research"(Whyte et al., 1991, p. 54). Therefore, by utilizing these respondents in a

participatory manner a more accurate and useful set of information was ultimately
Content validity was also increased by administering the organizational
mapping exercise to respondents representing all city divisions which are integral to
the land-use and water servicing process. Moreover, the theoretical expectations
about the functional relationships in the study process were found to be simplified
but otherwise accurately depicted in the initial hypothesis or basemap. Expected
linkage nodes, such as the comprehensive plan, were also consistently identified by
several of the respondents. These results collectively display sound construct
validity associated with both research questions. In addition, the decision to collect
visual, verbal, and written forms of information adds diversity to the methods,
effectively reducing potential internal validity threats related to the instrument itself.
However, it was observed that respondents from the case citys
organizational divisions had little understanding of how their own activities affected
other divisions. In particular this compartmentalized vantage point was prevalent
between land and water divisions, and, surprisingly, between water divisions as
well. With early indications that the respondents were unable to effectively visualize
the whole process of supplying water to new growth, the principal researcher
assumed the lead role in creating the initial visual base map. This methodological
decision was made in recognition of the potential for the principal investigators

hypotheses to insert bias in the final visual display produced by the respondents.
Despite this drawback, any research instrument which is used to extract information
by providing a human subject with a stimulus may in fact influence the information
provided by the respondent. For example, questionnaires inherently introduce bias
in responses by asking particular questions instead of possible others, and
necessarily phrasing questions in particular ways (Sanoff, 1991, p. 75). This bias
was minimized in the thesis research by creating the initial base map with
conservative objectivity. In other words, no attempt was made to hypothesize about
aspects of the process without solid information substantiated through the
participation of practitioners. As previously described, the thesis research utilized
methods which are similar to the organizational research procedures used by Myer
and Goes (1988) work.
The reliability of the research instrument relates to whether repeated
administration of the organizational mapping exercise would produce the same
results with each iteration. Although exercise administration was not repeated, it is
believed that the instrument delivers an informed balance between conflicting
reliability and validity issues. First, research-worker variability was eliminated by
using a single exercise administrator in data collection. The decision was also made
to restrict the exercise and associated questions to those portions of the study
process where the respondents city division has established ownership of key
activities. This procedure greatly increased the accuracy of the information obtained

because the respondents were mainly providing facts related to their particular area
of expertise in the process under study. In addition, the decision was made to refine
the base map throughout the case study with information provided by each new
respondent completing the exercise. Like the exercise questions, refinements were
also restricted to information associated with the area of expertise. This procedure
ensured that the base map would reflect the most current understanding of the citys
land-use and water servicing process, maximizing research time and steering the
discussion towards potential solutions. Additionally, it was observed that
respondents did not make refinements to this base map outside their own area of
expertise, which supports the map refinement decision and further illustrates the
compartmentalized nature of this citys divisions.
4.4.5 Illustrative Case Study
The value of the case study method is that it enables discrete research within
the confines of a municipality. Yin (1994) wrote that in general, case studies are
the preferred [research] strategy when how or why questions are being posed,
when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a
contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context (p. 1). This quote rings
true for application to the research subject. Here a single descriptive case study was
used to analyze the municipal disconnect and practitioners solutions. Additionally,
this case study was performed to illustrate how the organizational mapping exercise

could potentially be used as a skeletal set of procedures for both research on the
study process and its practical application. The following section will set the stage
for a presentation of the mapping exercise results by describing contextual
background information on the case community. Rationale for Selection of the Case
The City of Thornton case community was chosen on the basis of
exceptional qualities which may aid in our understanding of the impending conflicts
between land and water use in local government. Although an assessment of the
citys water rights portfolio was not performed, situational conditions suggest that
Thornton could very well be nudged into a position where growth and water
availability issues collide much sooner than anticipated. If this occurs, Thornton
could serve as a seminal indicator of how the opposing water and land issues unfold
among Colorados Front Range communities, particularly the larger municipalities
in the Denver metropolitan region.
Economic growth is a powerful motive for most communities and Thornton
is therefore prototypical in its pursuit of economic development. To gather the most
informative view, it was necessary to select a case illustration city where economic
growth is placed at a high priority. Thornton is located in the northern Denver
metropolitan area, a region that is capturing much of the new suburban growth near
the City and County of Denver. In fact, much of Thorntons planning agenda is an

attempt to keep the city attractive to new residents, a practice which fuels
investment by land developers but must be carefully balanced with development
fees. With growth as an identified goal, the City of Thornton case forces the
researcher to confront economic growth as a barrier to coordinated land and water
use practices. Thorntons pro growth policies have resulted in a meteoric population
growth trajectory. As depicted in Table 4.1, the total population of Thornton
increased by 85.5 percent between the 1990 and 2004 U.S. Census figures. In
contrast, the total population of the City and County of Denver increased by only
19.1 percent during the same time period (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004, U.S. Census
Bureau, 1990).
Table 4.1: Total Population by Geographical Area, 1990 through 2004
Geographical Area 1990 2000 2004 1990-2004 1990-2004
Number of People Number of People Number of People Change in Number of People % Change
City of Thornton 55,031 82,384 102,072 47,041 85.5%
City & County of Denver 467,610 554,636 556,835 89,225 19.1%
Source: US Census Bureau. 2004 Population Estimates, Summary File 1 for 2000 Table PI. and Summary Tape
File 1 for 1990 Table P001
Compounding the challenges brought by the citys high growth rates,
Thornton has also faced recent difficulties in supplying water for its new population

numbers. In 2000, Thornton was to initiate active construction of a large water
development called the Northern Project, which was anticipated to begin yielding
raw water to the city as early as 2002. Thornton estimated that the Northern Project
would accommodate existing demands and new population growth through the year
2031. As a consequence of the Colorado Supreme Courts ruling in City of Thornton
v. Bijou Irrigation Co. (1996), the city has not received any wet water deliveries
from the Northern Project to this date. In this landmark case, opponents took issue
with the citys conditional water rights which are associated with near half
ownership in a mutual ditch company that had traditionally supplied irrigation water
for farming operations. Thornton also purchased much of the land which was
originally irrigated with the ditch company shares: roughly 20,000 acres of property
comprised of 122 farms located in Weld and Larimer Counties. Thornton is still
relying on the use of this water as the main component of the citys future water
supply strategy (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator, personal
communication, October 7, 2005). However, it will be necessary for the city to
surmount numerous feasibility hurdles including due diligence proceedings and a
land take that would be required to convey water some 56 miles via an extensive
pipeline system.
In addition, Thorntons difficulties also exhibit the intimate tie between
water quality and water quantity. According to one respondent, managing
consumers use of water has become a priority due to poor placement of Thorntons

primary diversion point on the South Platte River (Water Distribution Project
Manager, personal communication, April 8, 2005). Because the city draws much of
its raw water downstream from the regional Denver metropolitan wastewater
treatment discharge, the treatment costs for Thorntons drinking water supply are
greatly increased. Despite these setbacks, the city does maintain full control over its
own land utilization as well as its water supplies. As its own municipal water
purveyor, Thorntons land-use goals are not subject to the uncertainty posed by
extra-territorial contracts for water supplies provided by neighboring municipalities
or special purpose governments. Consequently, Thornton possesses the ability to
coordinate land-use and water supply activities within its jurisdiction. As an effect
of this suite of conditions, the Thornton case represents a prime example of how the
organizational mapping exercise can be utilized within a high growth, water supply-
challenged community. However, a review of the literature revealed that the
disconnected management of land and water by local governments is nested within a
much larger context of governmental layers. Although the results that follow in
Chapter 5 are the product of utilizing Thornton as a case study, this is by no means
an isolated case of the disconnect. In fact, the disconnect exists throughout a vertical
hierarchy of governmental jurisdictions and is likely a problem among neighboring

5. Results
5.1 Descriptive Facts of the Case
The subject of the case study was an organizational process at the municipal
scale. Specifically, the original research analyzes the process of supplying water to
new urban growth in the city of Thornton. Both the land-use and water management
divisions of city government play integral roles in how urban growth is
accommodated through water servicing. In order to gain a picture of this process as
a whole, it was necessary to administer the organizational mapping instrument to all
city divisions having key roles.
The following descriptions of the city divisions and the respondents
representing them, serve as a legend for the results. For purposes of the research,
three divisions are involved in land development. The Policy Planning Division
conducts long-range land planning and the Current Planning Division performs
development review. Respondent 1 is a senior planner who will be overseeing the
next comprehensive plan update and currently has lead ownership in producing the
future population estimates. This respondent has worked for the city a number of
years in both Current and Policy Planning capacities. The Development Engineering
Division oversees development proposals from the concept stage through
construction. Development Engineering was represented by Respondent 2,

a senior project manager who has worked for numerous municipalities over the
course of 35 years of public service and has particular knowledge of water service
connections. In terms of water servicing, two divisions are associated with the
process under study. The Water Distribution Division is responsible for raw and
treated water infrastructure and was represented by Respondent 3, a project manager
who has lead ownership in the current update to the water and wastewater system
master plan. Lastly, the function of the Water Resources Division is to build a water
rights portfolio and protect existing raw water supplies and future plans for supply.
Respondent 4 is an acquisitions administrator who was described by her co-workers
as most knowledgeable of the citys water rights portfolio. As a follow-up to
exercise administration, an informational interview was also conducted with the
Water Resources Division Manager as well. Collectively, the citys land
development and water servicing process flows through the four key respondents in
the thesis research.
Additionally, the relevant activities of each division are detailed more
thoroughly in Chapter 5.2.1. It is important to note that there can be a great deal of
divisional cross-over in activities. For instance, the current land planning division
has review capabilities in the development of the comprehensive plan which is the
primary function of the long term land planning division. As Chapter 5.2 displays,
any such cross-over between land and water divisions is almost nonexistent.

5.2 Data
Aside from the information gathered on the role of the case citys divisions
and respondents discussed above, the several other types of data resulted from the
study. Numbering data provided the sequence of planning and building events and
was supported by the respondents explanations of the study process. Collectively,
this data was used in conjunction with the respondents revisions to the base map to
develop a composite organizational map. With a more accurate understanding of the
process, respondents went on to identify linkage nodes and explain how linkages
could be formed around these specific activities in the land development and water
servicing process.
Chapter 5.2.1 displays the resulting understanding of this study process. A
general categorization of the land development and water servicing procedure
simplifies the process into two meaningful groupings: one for long term planning
activities and a second for building actions in which the citys land-use and water
divisions actively manage, develop, and service new growth. This grouping is based
on the allocation of activities in which city divisions are assigned ownership of
specific activities in the process. Although long-term planning typically occurs prior
to current building, many of the same city divisions are involved in both categories
and it is therefore necessary to understand the entire process rather than viewing
these groupings as constituent parts.

5.2.1 The City of Thornton Process for Supplying
Water to New Urban Growth
The citys internal procedures for supplying water to new growth and
development were first teased apart using a numbering activity to determine the
sequence of events. By constructing this sequence of land development and water
servicing events, the respondents distentangled how each division functionally
relates to one another in carrying out the study process. The numbering results
varied depending on the particular respondents knowledge of the roles their
companion divisions play in this process. For example, certain respondents were
capable of numbering activities outside the purview of their divisions ownership,
whereas others confined the numbering to activities with direct relation to their own.
Table 5.1 displays the events sequencing results for long-term planning
activities with the key respondents described in Chapter 5.1 listed across the top of
the table. The chronological order of the primary events in long-term planning
triangulated closely for each of the three respondents who took part in this portion
of the numbering exercise. Respondent 1 noted that future population estimates can
be updated without performing a full update to the comprehensive plan (Senior
Land Planner, personal communication, July 7, 2005).

Respondent 4 also added the preparation of a future raw water supply plan because
it provides data used as a component in the water system master plan (Water
Resources Acquisitions Administrator, personal communication, October 7, 2005).
These two activities are denoted 3a and 3b respectively to show this sequence. The
primary finding from the sequencing data is shown as step 2 in which all three
respondents identified and described the future population estimates as the basis for
subsequent water planning activities.
Table 5.1: Sequence of Planning Events by Division Respondent
Sequence Respondent 1 Policy and Current Planning Divisions Respondent 2 Development Engineering Division Respondent 3 Water Distribution Division Respondent 4 Water Resources Division
1 Comprehensive Plan - Comprehensive Plan Comprehensive Plan
2 Future Population Estimates - Future Population Estimates Future Population Estimates
3a Water System Master Plan - Water System Master Plan Future Raw Water Supply Plan
3b - - - Water System Master Plan
4 - - - CIP Budgeting
Table 5.2 shows the resulting sequence of events for current building
activities. All respondents provided numbering data which was limited to activities

closely associated with their own. In addition, respondent 1 was only willing to
provide a verbal description of the land-use events occurring during current building
because he felt that building events for water supply are a separate but concurrent
process (Senior Land Planner, personal communication, July 7, 2005). Although
this description supported the actual numbering of land-use events provided by
respondent 2, the verbal description could not be included in the tabular results.
A water service agreement is a written contract for the city to provide water
to a land development or area. Respondent 2 described the water service agreement
as incident to either annexation15 or subdivision16 approval, the timing of which is
dependent on the type of land-use action being proposed (Development Engineering
Senior Project Manager, personal communication, July 26, 2005). In contrast, water
division respondents 3 and 4 had little knowledge of the water service agreement,
although respondent 3 surmised that this activity must take place prior to water
delivery (Water Distribution Project Manager, personal communication, September
9, 2005). In a subsequent interview, the Water Resources Division Manager
explained that he also takes no part in these agreements (personal communication,
October 24, 2005).
15 Annexation is the process whereby a city acquires land beyond its borders.
16 Subdivision approval effectively subdivides large parcels of vacant land located within the city

All four respondents taking part in the mapping exercise either described or
labeled both water rights acquisitions and water system development as continually
ongoing actions. Additionally, respondents 3 and 4 labeled water rights acquisitions
as step 5, or far in advance of when they are actually needed for water service
deliveries which were identified as steps 8 and 9, respectively.
Table 5.2: Sequence of Building Events by Division Respondent
Sequence Respondent 1 Policy and Current Planning Divisions Respondent 2 Development Engineering Division Respondent 3 Water Distribution Division Respondent 4 Water Resources Division
5 - Annexation Agreement Water Rights Acquisitions Water Rights Acquisitions
6 - Water Service Agreement Water Service Agreement Raw Water Development
7 - Subdivision/ Plat Application Water System Development Raw Water Distribution
8 - Route for Review Water Service Deliveries Water Treatment
9 - Development Concept Approval - Water Service Deliveries
10 - Water Service Agreement - -
11 - Developer's Agreement (DA) - -
11a - Building Permit - -
12 - Construction Permit - -
13 - Water Tap and Development Fees - -
14 - Construction/Infrastructure Complete - -
15 - Water Service Deliveries - -
Ongoing Water Rights Acquisitions Water Rights Acquisitions - -
Ongoing Water System Development Water System Development - -
In its raw form, the tabular and verbal data from each respondent was
triangulated to make adjustments to the base map and construct a more meaningful

composite flow diagram representing the current process used by the municipality.
Revisions to the base map for long-term planning were minimal such that this area
of the base map remained relatively fixed. The resulting composite map for long-
term planning activities is shown in Figure 5.1.

Figure 5.1: Composite Organizational Map for Long-term Planning
START Long-term Planning Description
The following verbal description of the land development and water
servicing process is a result of combining the information gathered in the
organizational mapping exercise. This description is intended to assist with the
readers interpretation of the composite map displayed in Figure 5.1. Generally
speaking, long term planning activities occur well before the initiation of new land
development. As a guide to the timing, placement, and manner of new growth, the

long-term (land) planning division17 develops a comprehensive plan document. As
components of the comprehensive plan, several products are produced which are
directly used in the activities of the companion divisions. These comprehensive plan
products include: a zoning map, existing and future land-use maps, and future
population estimates. The development of future population estimates is a
determinative step as the numbers that are derived serve as the basis for the water
distribution and acquisition divisions growth preparation activities (Senior Land
Planner, personal communication, March 29, 2005). As displayed in Table 5.1, all
three respondents identified these population estimates as the determinant of
subsequent water division actions.
Of the two primary water divisions, only the water distribution division
engages in practices which can be considered long term planning. Using central
numbers derived in the future population estimates, the water distribution division
prepares a water and wastewater system master plan which is organized under the
umbrella of the comprehensive plan. In terms of water supply, the purpose of the
master plan is to identify future deficiencies in post treatment water infrastructure
capacity based on population projections. According to respondent 1, who is
currently performing an update to the master plan, land-use determinations serve as
the foundation for the water planning effort by dictating: (a) the planning
period/horizon, (b) area of study, (c) future water service area, and (d) the capacity
17This division is known internally as the Policy Planning Division and is termed as such in Figure

that will be required in different locations within that service area (Water
Distribution Project Manager, personal communication, September 9, 2005). The
municipal decision-making bodies maintain a heavy influence in handing down this
mandate while consulting with the long term land planning division and top-level
management involved in the comprehensive plan route for review.
Although the long term land planning division provides benchmark
population numbers for intervals prior to full build out, the water resources division
finds it necessary to practice an ongoing attempt to secure the future supplies that
will be required to accommodate the growth anticipated by the population
projections. This activity is more accurately characterized as opportunistic
scoping rather than advance planning (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator,
personal communication, October 7, 2005). Despite this tack, the water resources
division develops a proprietary document for its own internal use. In a water
allocation system that is markedly litigious and competitive, appropriators would be
unwise to disclose the water supplies they are actively seeking. As a result, the
future raw water supply plan functions as a confidential analysis of Thorntons
perceived water supply sources, potential projects, and their estimated yields. The
associated information released to outside consultants assisting with the analysis
must first get cleared by the citys attorneys for consistent documentation related to
future due diligence proceedings in water court (Water Resources Acquisitions
Administrator, personal communication, October 7, 2005). This indicates how

exclusive water supply activities have become in response to an appropriation
system administered by the water courts. Current Building Description
The final composite map for current building activities is shown in Figure
5.2. The flow diagram is differentiated further by displaying land activities near the
top of the diagram and water actions near the bottom. Throughout the exercise,
respondents made numerous revisions to this area of the organizational map,
generally making the flow diagram much more complex than is depicted in the base
map (See Appendix A).

Figure 5.2: Composite Organizational Map for Current Building
The citys decision-making bodies effectively serve as the boundary between
the composite maps for long-term planning and current building by transitioning
planned growth into active growth. The initial municipal land actions are facilitated
by the current planning and development engineering divisions. A potential land
developers first point of contact with the city is the current planning division,
which requires the applicant to follow a series of steps to obtain the necessary
clearances prior to moving forward with a project. Early in the development
timeline, an applicant submits a conceptual site plan to the city. The current land 18
18 These prior to development hurdles appear to be what constitutes advance planning on the part of
the current planning division.

planning division has ownership of performing primary development review of the
plan documentation to ensure consistency of the proposed concept with the
comprehensive plan. As in all permitting and clearance stages, there is an iterative
dialogue between the developer and the city in negotiating what is acceptable for
each party. The dialogue in primary development review is more inclusive than
subsequent steps as it provides review and comment opportunities for outside
agencies as well. Once a conceptual site plan is approved, the development
engineering division becomes a lead agency in moving a project through actual
construction. This division is primarily involved in working directly with land
developers on project specifics from the point of subdivision and platting until
project completion and water connections are made.
A primary concern of the thesis research is how land-use actions are tied to
water activities. A water service agreement serves as the main cross-over activity
between these two functional areas. Two key respondents used both numbering and
verbal description to consistently associate the decision to provide water service
with the initial land-use approvals. Figure 5.2 shows this finding by connecting the
water service agreement with either the annexation agreement or conceptual site
plan approval depending on the type of growth action proposed. Water service
agreements take the form of a will serve letter drafted by the city engineer under
the direction of Thorntons decision-making bodies. These agreements are binding

contracts in which the city creates a legal obligation to provide public services such
as water and wastewater.
As displayed near the bottom of Figure 5.2, municipal water management
activities are carried out by the water distribution and water resources divisions. In
Thornton, the function of the water resources division is to build a water rights
portfolio. Specifically, this division is responsible for: (a) acquiring the raw water
necessary for current and future business needs, and (b) protecting existing supplies
and future plans for supply (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator, personal
communication, October 7, 2005). Past the point of appropriating raw water itself,
the water distribution division ensures conveyance for treatment and then makes
final water deliveries for use by customers. Although there is a partitioning of labor
within the water distribution division, this agency is composed of city personnel
who develop and maintain the conveyance infrastructure for both raw and treated
water and wastewater. In fact, all new raw water storage developments are built by
water distribution in cooperation with the water resources division.
5.2.2 Self Directed Coordination of Land Development
and Water Servicing
As described in the previous section, the numbering exercise resulted in a
simplified representation of the study process which enables more clear
visualization of land and water use interactions. Practitioners in the City of
Thornton were asked to use the resulting map in an exercise designed to identify

potential linkage points, or nodes that would be specifically suitable for the citys
To align the results in the context of the citys needs, respondent 1 was
asked to circle chapter headings in the comprehensive plan table of contents which
correspond to Thorntons four main priorities. The identified headings included:
economic development, utilities, community facilities, and transportation. More
importantly, the respondent was able to provide documentation of these priorities
with a copy of the agenda for the 2005 City of Thornton Council Advance shown in
Appendix C. In terms of economic development, the city aims to provide a sales
tax and employment base that will support city services, citizen goals, and values
during and after build out (Appendix C). The priority objectives for water and
sewer servicing were to prepare: (a) a long term strategy for future water supplies
with assumptions and scenarios, and (b) a financially constrained strategic utility
plan covering capital improvements, water resources [division activities], and
O&M costs needed to support growth (Appendix C). Constrained by a pro-growth
stance, the existing points of land and water use coordination in Thornton were
found to include: (a) a one-way transfer of future population estimates from land
planning to the water divisions, (b) annual updates on building permits and planned
projects provided by land planning to the water divisions, and (c) inclusion of select
representatives from the water divisions in the review and comment for both the
comprehensive plan and individual development proposals.

Table 5.3 summarizes the linkage results by displaying the frequency that
each node activity was identified by the respondents. Both the comprehensive plan
and future population estimates were identified most often with three out of four
respondents suggesting each. These two activities are closely related in the land
development timeline as the future population estimates are often produced as a
component of the comprehensive plan.
For example, one respondent identified the comprehensive plan because it
casts a broad statement of policy over all municipal actions and products including
more specific sub-area plans, the transportation plan, and the water master plan
(Senior Land Planner, personal communication, July 7, 2005). Another respondent
suggested that the comprehensive plan should be far less general and fluid. This
respondent explained that a major portion of the future land-use map is designated
as mixed-use so that the decision-making bodies have the flexibility to approve a
wide array of development proposals (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator,
personal communication, October 7, 2005). This flexibility is difficult for the citys
water divisions who need commitment to a specific use and density which can then
be translated into an accurate future water demand.

Table 5.3: Linkage Nodes by Frequency of Identification
Linkage Node Times Identified
Comprehensive Plan 3
Future Population Estimates 3
Water System Master Plan 2
Water and Development Fees 1
Cost Analysis for Future Acquisitions 1
Water Rights Acquisitions 1
Subdivision/ Plat Application 1
The future population estimates were often identified for similar reasons.
Mixed-use land designations present within the comprehensive plan are what cause
the future populations estimates to change with regularity. The population estimates
produced by the long term planning division are the component that is actually used
as the basis for the support activities carried out by the companion water divisions.
It was explained that population estimates are a one-way transfer of information in
which the feasibility of supplying that population projection with water is not fully
considered in establishing the numbers (Water Distribution Project Manager,
personal communication, April 8, 2005). Another respondent added that although it
would be ideal for the land and water divisions to collectively set a firm carrying
capacity for the planning period, the water divisions are currently in no position to
weigh-in on this determination (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator,
personal communication, October 7, 2005). Respondent 3 generally added that one
would not be a water manager very long if water limitations were allowed to impede

growth (Water Distribution Project Manager, personal communication, September
9, 2005).
Several other nodes identified by a single respondent had close ties to the
comprehensive planning products. Both respondents representing the water
divisions provided similar ways of linking the nodes they identified to other actions
in the study process. These respondents concluded that the most politically
acceptable manner for the water divisions to have an influence in setting future
population estimates would be for the water managers to hold some form of
economic leverage. The Water Distribution Project Manager (personal
communication, September 9, 2005) reasoned that the applicable question is not
whether we can grow; its how much it will cost to accommodate the growth. While
first identifying the future population estimates as one node, this respondent
proceeded to identify the levying of water tap and development fees as another node
that could associate the estimates with cost. Furthermore, this respondent detailed
how the city is currently performing a study to determine if their water tap and other
development fees and water rate structure will cover the cost of growth anticipated
by the future population estimates (Water Distribution Project Manager, personal
communication, September 9, 2005). It was explained that the study is causing the
city to go through a process of iterative adjustments between the population
estimates, water rates, and development fees. The adjustments involve carefully
balancing Thorntons economic attractiveness to developers against the costs that

the city incurs in support of growth. The Water Distribution Project Manager
(personal communication, September 9, 2005) also described that by linking the
identified nodes through the water and development fee study it may be acceptable
to rethink the land-use designations or population estimates and what they will cost
in terms of water servicing.
A respondent representing the water resources division also created an
economically oriented node in which the municipality could potentially reexamine
its growth plans. The Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator explained that
water supply will not be taken seriously in the growth planning process until the
division has completed a cost analysis of future water rights acquisitions that will be
required to meet the service obligations anticipated in the comprehensive plan
(personal communication, October 7, 2005). The aforementioned water and
development fee study will include this analysis as a component. This estimate of
the future cost of water acquisitions is for the period beyond the threshold that could
be served under the citys current water rights portfolio. As described by the Water
Resources Acquisitions Administrator, predicting how the water market will react to
increasing competition will be very difficult for this type of cost analysis. However,
until the division has completed this exercise of putting its activities in economic
terms it really has no involvement in the comprehensive planning discussions
(Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator, personal communication, October 7,

Aside from the comprehensive plan and future population estimates, the
water master plan was the third most frequently identified node in the organizational
mapping exercise. Specifically, two out of the four respondents identified the water
master plan as a point in the land development timeline where increased divisional
coordination could occur. One respondent described the water master plan as node
that should influence policies proclaimed in the comprehensive plan and vice versa
(Senior Land Planner, personal communication, July 7, 2005). Another respondent
added that the water master plan should create more of a two-way transfer of
information between it and the future population estimates (Water Resources
Acquisitions Administrator, personal communication, October 7, 2005). In addition,
other linkage nodes were also identified by just a single respondent. The Water
Resources Acquisitions Administrator (personal communication, October 7, 2005)
described a situation in which land developers are increasingly dedicating water
rights to the city that would be extremely valuable for municipal use requirements
but which the developer intends to use as looking water instead. Looking water
was defined as aesthetic water features designed to entice potential home buyers.
This respondent suggested linking the subdivision/ plat application to water rights
acquisitions so that the water resources division could negotiate agreements with the
developer to make the best use of any dedicated water rights.

6. Discussion
Although the separation of land-use and water servicing actions has been
commonly described by focusing on state-layer governments, the original thesis
data appear to be the first in which the specific municipal practices associated with
this disconnect have been documented with the detail necessary to mandate
workable linkages. Fundamental to this new understanding, the thesis data details
the mechanisms as a network which together forms the case communitys internal
procedure for supplying water to new urban growth.
6.1 The City of Thornton Process for Supplying
Water to New Urban Growth
As described in Chapter 5, long-term planning is the process in which land
and water supply needs are analyzed, such as: the availability of housing,
infrastructure capacity, and areas of new growth. Current building is the process of
meeting the supply needs identified in long-term planning. The organizational
mapping results provided several key findings associated with one of these two
groupings, respectively. This Chapter focuses the readers attention on these results
and provides the principal investigators interpretation of their meaning.

6.1.1 Analysis of Long-term Planning
The sequencing results for Thornton are displayed in Table 5.1. When
combined with the respondents descriptions, these results indicate that planning for
land-use dictates a number of principal water division actions including: (a) the
quantity of water acquisitions that must be obtained, (b) the sizing and location of
the water infrastructure capacity necessary to convey that water, and (c) the
anticipated future boundaries of the water service area.
As previously explained, a municipalitys long-range plans for growth are
generally embodied in a comprehensive plan and its component products. What is
not readily apparent in the process under study, even for the involved planners, is
that land-use projections are the triggering mechanism to initiate new water
development. All three respondents in the long-term planning exercise identified
and described the future population estimates as the basis for the quantity of water
acquisitions that must be obtained. From water acquisitions to the infrastructure
necessary to carry it, all municipal water supply activity begins as a reactionary
springboard emanating from the land-use divisions. In a case study of Portland,
Oregon, J.R. Cohen found a similar relationship between the population forecasts
produced by land-use agencies and the activities of local water purveyors (National
Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, 2004):

Portland, the states largest city, and its metropolitan region have a
unique, elected metropolitan governance structure, known as
Metro....The clearest indication of linkage between water supply
and growth management planning is the central role that Metros
[population] forecasting plays in water supply planning...It is
apparent that the Regional [Water Providers] Consortium relies on
Metro to provide the projections and policies that support its water
demand forecasts. However, what is less clear is whether the linkage
between growth management decisions and water supply actions also
runs in the opposite direction; that is, whether long-range water
supply forecasts possibly including cautions about future water
limitations are significant drivers of Metros growth management
policies (National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education,
2004, p. 17).
The thesis research findings add that Thorntons internal planning and water
servicing procedures do not include a feedback loop from the water divisions to the
long-range planning division. The Water Distribution Project Manager (personal
communication, April 8, 2005) explained that population estimates are a one-way
transfer of information in which the feasibility of supplying that population
projection with water is not fully considered in establishing the numbers. Land
planners must recognize this system as antithetical to the rational and
comprehensive planning ideal touted as the mantra of urban planning. By
developing new water in response to activities of the land-use agency, Thornton and
Metro (and likely many others) are relying on the precarious assumption that more
water will always be physically and legally available. Although this specific
disconnect has been alluded to in other literature (Lucero and Tarlock, 2003, p.
804), these two case studies appear to be the first to fully document the mechanism

underlying this dimension of the land and water disconnect. The limitation of these
findings is that we do not know precisely how pervasive these practices are in the
organizational structure of other governments. Yin (1994, p. 31) suggests that
replication can be claimed if two or more cases draw similar results. Fortunately, the
National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education (2004) case study
subject was Portland, a city well known for its growth management practices. In
contrast, Thornton has been shown to prioritize economic growth (See Appendix C).
These results suggest that the one-way information transfer between long-range land
planning and water agencies occurs regardless of a municipalitys growth paradigm.
In Thornton, the population estimates have become the comprehensive
planning product that is put into practical use by the citys water divisions. These
future population estimates result from an analysis assuming build-out of the land
within the planning period. The estimate is derived using the historical rate of
population growth for the city and region, and historical data for average gross
densities by the land-use designations in the future land use map (Senior Land
Planner, personal communication, July 7, 2005). The future population estimates are
then translated into a projected future water demand by assuming that water
consumption will remain constant over the planning period. The city specifically
builds its water system updates and obtains its water rights per land-use population
projections. One would assume that this procedure would cause Thornton to

overinflate its water requirements and overdevelop publicly-valued supplies. As
stated by Tabors (1979):
Even though it is frequently argued that one is better safe than
sorry in sizing infrastructure facilities, such conservatism carries a
cost in excess capacity which may place an unreasonable payment
burden on initial systems users (p. 184).
Existing water users do continue to pay for the water that has yet to be
delivered through the Northern Project. However, the city has worked within the
bounds of a water marketing and acquisitions system that is so highly competitive
that it provides incentive to develop water sooner rather than later. Additionally,
growth is occurring at such a rapid pace in Thornton that ongoing water
preparations appear quite necessary. One reason for this is that the city has fallen
into the practice of adjusting the future population estimates in lieu of performing a
full update to the comprehensive plan. As a consequence, growth is occurring in
Thornton without adequate planning. Tabors (1979) noted that unplanned growth
frequently costs the community in terms of increased service requirements of new
arrivals (schools) whose incremental costs outweigh the incremental addition to the
property tax base (p. 184). The water-related impact of this unplanned growth is
that it causes the future population estimates to increase and makes it more difficult
for the water divisions to keep pace. Although the long term land planning division
provides benchmark population numbers for intervals prior to full build out,
Thorntons water requirements are not truly representative of the planned

community growth appearing in the future land-use map. As such, the citys pro-
growth paradigm is a construct in which water acquisitions and other preparations
are an ongoing exercise out of basic necessity.
According to the Water Distribution Project Manager, the future water
service area is also set by the long term land planning division and is used as input
for the water system master plan (personal communication, September 9, 2005).
Tabors (1979) contends that the water service area should be determined as part of
responsible future planning as follows:
Defining these [infrastructure service area] boundaries is within the
purview of the [land] planner, who has the responsibilities of
providing the data on which service area boundaries are based, of
analyzing potential secondary impacts of service extensions, and of
using the extension of the service area to complement community
growth plans rather than allowing the extension of environmental
infrastructure to determine the direction and magnitude of future
growth (p. 186).
Unfortunately, the water divisions take no part in these determinations and
long term land planning has no capacity for adequately considering the full
feasibility and implications of new service connections. Moreover, it is not common
for land planners to understand the water-related impacts of land-use actions. If the
water divisions were granted equal footing in setting the service area boundary, the
long term land planning division could utilize the citys internal water expertise in
conducting this exercise as intended in R.D. Tabors description. Instead, the water

service area is set by the long term land planning division without adequate
consideration of water system and supply impacts.
6.1.2 Analysis of Current Building
The sequencing results for Thorntons current building activities are
displayed in Table 5.2. Two respondents who are practitioners within the citys
land-use functions used both numbering and verbal description to provide a similar
view of the events sequencing that occurs in land-use building actions. These
composite results are shown along the top portion of Figure 5.2. In addition the two
water division respondents supported each others results by providing a similar
sequence for the water actions in current building (See Table 5.2). However, the
current building results are somewhat less conclusive than those for long-term
planning. This difference may be due to a less inclusionary (or more
compartmentalized) process for building actions.
Primary among the findings, the two land-use respondents consistently
associated the decision to provide water service with the initial land-use approvals.
As such, the decision to provide water service is effectively made on an area-by-
area basis. The Water Distribution Project Manager (personal communication, April
8, 2005) concurred with my personal observation that water supply is not considered
a necessary precursor to growth. In contrast, the citys organizational structure and
practices are an attempt to prohibit water availability from ever becoming a

constraint on new growth by making water acquisitions far in advance of when the
wet water will be put to use. Nichols et al. (2001) artfully summed up this practice,
commenting that it is the tendency of water purveyors to attempt the provision of
nearly 100 percent reliable water supplies to meet all foreseeable demand (p. ix).
As previously described, a water service agreement is the primary cross-over
activity between the land and water divisions. A water service obligation is formally
made using a will serve letter drafted by the city engineer under the direction of
Thorntons decision-making bodies, not the citys water divisions as initially
hypothesized. The will serve letter signifies the temporal point at which paper
water service is made available. Despite the associated legal obligations, water
service agreements are made incident to major development approvals and do not
require analysis of water supply impacts. Rather than establishing the service area
through a collaborative land and water planning exercise, the results indicate that
the initial land development decisions determine the locations where water is
provided. Again, the adequacy of the citys water rights portfolio need not be
considered during a land-use approval because acquisitions are made so far in
advance. Furthermore, the decision to provide water is specifically associated with
one of the three growth processes described below.
Thornton is currently experiencing new urban growth when developed land
areas are acquired through annexation, vacant land is developed, or when land is re-
developed at higher densities. When the city acquires previously developed land, a

water service agreement accompanies a more encompassing annexation agreement.
Alternatively, developers submit conceptual site plans or plats for the subdivision of
large parcels of vacant land located within the city limits. Conceptual site plan
approval marks another land-use decision point which triggers the transmittal of a
will serve letter. In this way, all land areas annexed into the city are provided with
water service (Water Resources Acquisitions Administrator, personal
communication, October 7, 2005). Lastly, land within the citys borders can be re-
developed at higher densities. Although these areas already receive service, water
demands can increase considerably. Despite direct affects on the citys water
divisions, they again take no part in the decision to re-develop.
Although often overlooked, in an indirect manner land development
approvals not only drive, but also justify water development. Population growth is
itself used to make evidentiary showings of due diligence in securing conditional
water rights. Moreover, development approvals show both the land developer and
the citys decision-making bodies that there is demand for new growth. This
provides the feedback mechanism to continue growing and directly influences the
population estimates which are central to subsequent water division actions
including water rights portfolio building and infrastructure development.

6.2. Analysis of Identified Land and Water Linkages
Within municipal ranks there exists a certain recognized tension created by
water servicing being designated as a support system for land-use decisions and
agencies. Urban growth activities conflict with water servicing where population
increases place added demands on a process which is already burdened by
increasing competition for a relative scarcity of supplies. Self directed coordination
of land and water actions can ease some of these tensions, even in locations where a
mandatory link between land development and water servicing has not been
prescribed at the state-level.
However, the City of Thornton is plagued by situational conditions which
merge to create a difficult obstruction to water sustainable growth. Thorntons
community goals strongly favor economic development and such a pro growth
stance may very well preclude the formation of linkages. The thesis research was
conducted in recognition that forging workable linkages for a community requires
the researcher and practitioner to remain conscious of the communitys priorities. A
portion of the organizational mapping exercise was administered to align the
research with these identified priorities and guide the types of coordination that are
specifically appropriate for Thorntons needs. For instance, in Thornton a very basic
rule is that a feasible linkage cannot impede economic development. In fact, the city
exercises its municipal preferences granted by Colorado water law to facilitate land