Denver, South Metro purchase pipeline to move finished water to customers (WISE Project)

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A pipeline that will tie metro areas together has been purchased by Denver and the South Metro Water Supply Authority. The purchase will delay other efforts by metro water providers to take water from other parts of the state by allowing water suppliers to be used more effectively.

The 20-mile long East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District’s western pipeline was purchased for $34 million, connecting Denver’s supply line to Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project. South Metro will pay 85 percent and Denver 15 percent. The ECCV pipeline originally was built to move water from a well field to the west to the community located between Denver and Aurora. It was built with excess capacity and will be modified to serve several other districts along its route.

The move will allow districts in the South Metro group to receive water from Prairie Waters and give Denver and Aurora a source of emergency supply.

Those districts are largely dependent upon Denver Basin groundwater, but need surface supplies in order to sustain underground resources. By cooperating with neighbors, they are able to reduce the costs of new supplies.

Denver, Aurora and 10 members of South Metro entered the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership in order to share water resources. Other projects have included reallocation of Chatfield Reservoir water, opening of Rueter-Hess Reservoir at Parker and other projects by individual members.

“With those successes, we’re taking another look at our long-term plan,” said Eric Hecox, general manager of the South Metro District.

That could be good news for the Arkansas River basin, which was targeted among future sources of water supply in South Metro’s 2007 water plan. Since then, conservation efforts have reduced demand. In addition, growth slowed during the recession, giving the water providers a little breathing room, Hecox said.

“With WISE moving ahead, it complements other water supply efforts. It doesn’t meet all of our needs, but moves things forward,” Hecox said. In the next few months, the Colorado­Wyoming Coalition, led by South Metro, will be completing an analysis of whether to launch a feasibility study for the Flaming Gorge pipeline, which would deliver water from Wyoming to cities within that state as well as Colorado’s Front Range.

One of the South Metro’s members is the Rangeview district east of Aurora, backed by Pure Cycle, a company which has proposed piping water from shares it owns on the Fort Lyon Canal near La Junta to the northern cities.

The groups also will be looking at coordinating its plan with the upcoming state water plan.

“Many of the options in the state water plan are the same options we’re looking at,” Hecox said.

More WISE Project coverage here.

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