The Center for Water Efficient Landscaping is a research and outreach center designed to improve efficient use of water for landscape irrigation. CWEL's mission is to promote water conservation through environmentally, socially, and economically sound landscape management practices. CWEL is unique among water conservation efforts in that its mission is restricted to working within the issue of efficient landscape water use only.
Currently, it is estimated that approximately 50-65% of Utah's culinary water is used for landscape irrigation. Research has demonstrated that the amount of water applied to landscapes could be reduced substantially without affecting landscape quality or consumer lifestyles. Water use could be reduced even further if alternative landscape designs and management programs were practiced.
CWEL's specific goals currently include research on water requirements of trees and turfgrass, effects of short-term drought on landscapes, development and use of drought tolerant grasses and landscape plants, and characterization of community-wide landscape water demand and use patterns. Out-reach education programs are geared to providing expertise and information to state-wide Extension offices, the green industry, water purveyors/institutions, and the general public. CWEL reaches these goals through collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies as well as Utah's green industry.
CWEL was created in 1999 by the Utah State Legislature to support landscape water conservation extension programs and research activities. Funding from the State of Utah, federal and state agencies, private companies, water conservancy districts and Utah State University has supported numerous research activities and Extension programs to promote landscape water conservation.
The combined efforts of CWEL, its collaborators, Utah’s Division of Water Resources (UDWRe), water conservancy districts, and many municipalities have had an impact on water conservation through the free Water Check Program. Reports by UDWR indicate the “Slow the Flow” program, which includes CWEL’s Water Check program, has resulted in more efficient irrigation by homeowners. UDWRe also concluded that higher education campuses state-wide are saving millions of gallons of water annually through continual development of water-efficient landscapes. As the population of Utah continues to grow, water conservation becomes increasingly important.