The southern metro Denver suburbs are looking to surface water to lessen dependence on the Denver Basin aquifer system

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This is not news to many Coyote Gulch readers. Here’s a in-depth report from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Today, nearly every glass of water drawn by residents in Castle Rock, Castle Pines and Parker originates deep underground, data from utility managers show.
Twenty-five utilities between Denver and Colorado Springs are together pumping 38,742 acre-feet of water from 449 municipal wells each year, according to data provided by the water suppliers. That works out to about 400 gallons per second being squeezed from the Denver Basin aquifer. It’s not that the water in the vast aquifer is expected to run dry anytime soon. The problem is that pumping water from as deep as 2,200 feet below the surface is getting more difficult — and expensive…

The water table and well-production data kept by some utilities show well levels falling by as much as 30 feet a year and that well flows in summer slow by as much as 20 percent…

When Two Forks was rejected, “the consensus was that groundwater was a very viable source that could be replenished,” said Jim Sherer, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator at the time, who favored the dam. “You could put water back in. What seemed to be easy answers 20 years ago is creating problems today.”

The prime alternative for some suburbs today involves diverting wastewater from Denver and Aurora and purifying it for use by others. Over the past year, 15 south metro suburbs have been been negotiating the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency, or WISE, project. It would take advantage of Aurora’s new $660 million Peter D. Binney treatment plant, combined with the city’s 34-mile pipeline that diverts water from the South Platte River, downstream from Denver’s Metro Wastewater Reclamation facility…

But Denver’s participation depends on diverting more water from the west side of the Continental Divide, he said. The proposed Moffat Tunnel diversion project is under review. “The more water we bring over from the Western Slope, the more return flows (to the South Platte) we have,” Little said. “If we didn’t get the Moffat project, it could limit our ability to fully participate in the WISE project. I don’t think it would kill it.” Suburban leaders are counting on WISE. They anticipate receiving as much as 60,000 acre-feet of wastewater annually for reuse, said Pat Mulhern, who manages the Cottonwood, Inverness and Stonegate water districts. The cost has not been calculated.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Their wells at the rim of the heavily subscribed Denver Basin aquifer first ran dry in 1997. Today some still run dry. The experience honed their survival skills. The southwest metro neighbors flush infrequently, redirect rainwater off roofs into gardens and redrill old wells. Most have buried 500-gallon cisterns near their homes…

When wells first went dry, about 150 homeowners formed the South Chatfield Water District. They bought rights to 69 acre-feet of surface water and arranged for Denver Water to deliver it through an extended pipeline. Below 10,000 gallons a month, each household pays $4 per 1,000 gallons. Above that, the fee increases to $60. Some have paid $1,000 a month trying to maintain lawns.

More Denver Basin aquifer system coverage here and here.

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