Before a newly constructed premise may be landscaped, property owners must amend their soil with compost so the soil more efficiently retains water. This rule applies to all new residential, commercial, government and industrial properties within Denver Water’s service area.
Importance of Soil Amendment
Amending your soil with compost has multiple benefits. Organic matter (compost) particles can hold moisture in the soil for extended periods, allowing water to be available to plants over a longer period of time. Compost can provide small amounts of the key nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K) and also increases microbial activity, which improves plant root growth. Compost also opens clay soils, allowing better drainage, and closes sandy soils, preventing water from leaching away too quickly.
Soil amendment is required prior to landscaping the premise. The building official of the jurisdiction in which the building is located will verify compliance with Denver Water's soil amendment rule prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy for the property in the following city/counties:
- Cherry Hills Village
- Greenwood Village
- Lone Tree
Denver Water operating rules that apply to soil amendment and limits on use:
Properties meeting any of the following conditions are not required to amend the soil prior to meter set:
- Water tap for indoor use only.
- Property with less than 300 square feet of amendable area.
- Outdoor use limited to planter boxes.
- Outdoor use with nonpermeable areas only.
The watering of landscape and/or occupancy of the premises prior to the installation of a meter are prohibited and shall constitute unauthorized use of water.
At the time of application for the water tap, a $50 soil amendment fee will be collected in addition to all other applicable fees. In the case of any reinspections, a $70 trip charge will be assessed for each additional visit to the property.
To Pass a Soil Amendment Inspection
Prior to the installation of any plant material, including sod, apply a minimum of 4 cubic yards of soil amendment product per 1,000 square feet of permeable area.
This soil amendment product must be incorporated or rototilled to a depth of 4-6 inches. The site must be raked smooth and finish grades must be established. Rocks and debris over 1-inch diameter that may interfere with planting and maintenance operations must be removed.
- Native grass-seeded areas may incorporate amendment at a rate of 2 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet. Seed mixes are required for submittal along with a map outlining the area.
- The soil amendment product applied to the premises must be on the approved soil amendment product list. All other proposed products must submit a full soil nutrient analysis or product specification for approval.
- Tilled soil amendment product is required for all permeable area of the property, including tree lawn and right-of-way adjacent to the property for which the property owner is responsible for planting and maintaining.
- Scraped properties will require compost only if a new tap and license is required and the existing landscape has been removed from the property as determined by the inspector.
- Properties requesting the use of amended topsoil require special review and submittal of a full soil nutrient analysis. As existing grades permit, product may be tilled in or existing soil excavated and replaced with amended topsoil. An application rate of 12 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet is required for amended topsoil.
Schedule a Soil Amendment Inspection
Provide documentation (invoice or load ticket) of soil amendment product, and a plot survey map with square footage of the amended area for inspection purposes. The load ticket must include the type of soil amendment product, and the address(es) it will be applied to.
Inspection/approval will be arranged once documentation has been received and product approved. Documentation may be:
- Emailed — email@example.com
- Faxed — 303-628-6190 (indicate soil amendment)
- Mailed — Denver Water Conservation-SA, MC 330; 1600 W. 12th Ave.; Denver, CO 80204
You will be notified of inspection approval status by phone or email. All properties are subject to spot inspections.
If the property is served by a master meter distributor, the distributor’s representative will be notified whether the property has passed or failed via email within the next business day.
If the Property Fails Soil Amendment Inspection
Denver Water will notify the applicant of the inspection once it has failed. A $70 trip charge will be added to the account and must be paid before the next inspection. Customers may call Water Sales at 303-628-6100 to pay over the phone.
Once it has been paid, the customer is responsible for making changes to the soil amendment as they were notified, and for contacting Denver Water’s Conservation department by calling 303-628-6670 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request a re-inspection.
Once the inspection has passed, the customer may move forward with landscaping as long as the meter is set.
Transfer of Ownership
If ownership of the property changes prior to completion of soil amendment, the customer has the option to execute a new soil amendment agreement signed by the subsequent property owner.
The new agreement should be sent to Denver Water’s Conservation department by email to email@example.com or faxed to 303-628-6190. Denver Water will make note of the transfer on the premise. The new signatory of the soil amendment agreement is responsible for completing the soil amendment and getting it approved by Denver Water prior to landscaping the premise. If the premise is landscaped before approval, the new signatory of the agreement is subject to a $1,000 fine.
Note: Denver Water cannot perform the soil amendment inspection if the premise is landscaped. Therefore, any landscaping that occurs before the inspection is done is at the risk of the party obtaining the landscaping, or a $1,000 fine. Denver Water is not responsible for any monetary or property loss arising from removal of landscaping in order to perform the inspection.
Denver Water will conduct soil amendment inspections and approvals during the winter as long as the ground is 95 percent clear of snow cover, and temperatures are conducive to rototilling compost into the ground 4 to 6 inches.
When weather and ground conditions prevent completion of the soil amendment requirement, Denver Water may extend the completion date to no later than June 1. The customer may request a winter extension by calling Denver Water’s Conservation department at 303-628-6670 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request the extension. The soil amendment must be approved prior to landscaping the premise in the spring.
Note: Denver Water cannot perform the soil amendment inspection if the premise is landscaped. Therefore, any landscaping that occurs prior to the inspection is done at the risk of the party obtaining the landscaping, or a $1,000 fine. Denver Water is not responsible for any monetary or property loss arising from removal of landscaping in order to perform the inspection.
Large projects that have landscape installed in segments over the life of the project may qualify for phased inspections. A complete site plan identifying the different phased areas must be submitted for review and approval prior to initial meter set.
Subsequent inspections for additional phases will incur a $70 trip charge for the owner/builder/developer's account at the time of initial meter set.