Aurora: Homestake Reservoir will be closed to the public and drained this fall for three year maintenance project

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Here’s the release from Aurora Water (Greg Baker):

The Homestake Dam and Reservoir in Eagle and Pitkin Counties, Colorado, will be undergoing scheduled maintenance in 2012 and 2013 that will impact recreational users of the facilities. The work involves regular, but necessary maintenance to help safeguard a valuable resource and ensure its viability for years to come. Homestake Reservoir, completed in 1968, is operated jointly by Colorado Springs Utilities and Aurora Water under the Homestake Water Project. To ensure the public’s safety during construction activity, access to the reservoir and the dam will be restricted during this maintenance period.

“We understand that this area is a popular recreational amenity, and we ask for your patience and understanding as we work as expeditiously as possible,” stated Greg Baker, spokesperson for the Homestake Project. “The construction season in the mountains is short, so we will make every attempt to be efficient with our time.”

Starting in September 2011, admittance to Homestake Reservoir will be closed below the East Fork Trailhead, just prior to the dam access road on Homestake Road. The top five feet of the dam crest will be removed to accommodate the large equipment needed for this project. Upon completion of the maintenance work in late 2013, the dam crest will be restored to its original height.

The bridge on Homestake Road immediately beyond the turnoff from Highway 24 will be replaced between October and December 2011. A temporary bridge will be in place to accommodate local traffic. Traffic will be directed to this detour, so it is recommended that visitors watch for traffic signs and be alert.

In 2012, the reservoir will be drained to accommodate repairs to the gate and intake structure for the Homestake Tunnel, which carries the water from Homestake to Turquoise Lake in Lake County. Natural flows to Homestake Creek will be maintained during this time. The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with a variety of partner groups, will be performing restoration and enhancement work, including fish habitat improvement, hazard tree removal, and campsite rehabilitation along Homestake Creek downstream from the reservoir.

From 2012 to 2013, milling and paving will occur on the dam’s asphalt face. Asphalt faced dams, while common in Europe, are unique in the U.S. Since the facing was first installed in 1968, it is almost 45 years of age and is due for a replacement.

Water collection in the reservoir will begin again in April 2013, though how long it will take to refill Homestake will depend on snowpack and runoff conditions. Restoration work around the dam should be completed in 2014, with full public access being restored by spring of that year.

Both Colorado Springs Utilities and Aurora Water will carefully monitor their other water sources to ensure that adequate supplies are available to meet customer demand. Aurora Water will maximize its storage in the Arkansas and South Platte basins, as well as utilize its recently completed Prairie Waters system. Colorado Springs Utilities does not anticipate impacts to its ability to deliver water to customers during the construction phase. During construction, and as needed, Colorado Springs Utilities will bring its share of Homestake Reservoir storage through the Homestake Tunnel to East Slope storage facilities.

Updates and notices on the Homestake Dam and Reservoir maintenance and repair project will be posted on websites of both Aurora Water ( or Colorado Springs Utilities (

More coverage from the Aurora Sentinel (Sara Castellanos):

The reservoir will be drained for repairs to the gate and intake structure for the Homestake Tunnel, which carries the water from the reservoir to Turquoise Lake in Lake County. Contractors will replace the asphalt facing on the dam, which is 45 years old. “Homestake has an asphalt faced dam which is unusual here but very common in Europe,” Baker said. “It makes it a little more difficult to find qualified contractors for.” While this work is done, the U.S. Forest Service will work on fish habitat improvements, removal of hazardous trees and campsite rehabilitation in the area…

The total cost of construction of the renovations is $35.5 million, with Aurora paying $17.5 million over four years and Colorado Springs paying the second half. Money to fund the project will come out of Aurora Water’s operating budget…

While Homestake is offline, the city will continue collecting water from Prairie Waters, the drought-hardening project that came online last year. “Now that we have Prairie Waters online, it’s about the equivalent of what we take out of Homestake,” Baker said.

More Homestake Reservoir coverage here and here.

4 thoughts on “Aurora: Homestake Reservoir will be closed to the public and drained this fall for three year maintenance project

  1. Just wondering if you know the exact date that the road will be closed going up to Homestake reservoir? We had a fishing trip planned on the 19th of August for 3 days. I am coming out from the East Coast.

  2. Do you know if the water from the draining of the resovoir will be sent down the homestake tunnel and the Arkansas river and when this will take place??

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