From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
Colorado water planners facing a projected 163 billion-gallon statewide annual shortfall by 2050 now are aiming to emulate water-stressed Parker (population 50,000), which labored for three decades to build its 185-foot-high Frank Jaeger dam, reservoir and plant. Parker’s leaders were driven by a desire to enable population growth up to 120,000 people without pumping more from dwindling underground aquifers.
Parker officials began their project in 1985 after anticipating a water shortfall as suburban development exploded. Longtime Parker Water employee Frank Jaeger scouted sites, filed for permits and obtained rights to divert water. Town leaders initially planned a reservoir to hold 16,200 acre-feet of water.
At first they focused on flooding Castlewood Canyon State Park. Courts rejected this.
Jaeger then negotiated with landowners for the current site, between Parker and Castle Rock. Environmental studies started in 1997. Designs were done in 2002. Construction began in 2004. In 2008, Jaeger and other suburban officials decided to make it a bigger reservoir, holding 75,000 acre-feet.
The reservoir was completed in 2012. And an adjacent water-cleaning plant last summer began operating — bringing reservoir water to residents who long have relied on declining underground water.
Any state push to build reservoirs will require determination and patience, said Jaeger, now retired. “You’ll need state sponsorship,” he said. “And you’ll need somebody who is going to stay around for the whole deal. They’re going to take a lot of heat.”
More dams and reservoirs likely would cost hundreds of millions and, if off the main stem of a river, require huge amounts of electrical power to pump water.
Parker installed five grid-powered motors — three 1,250 horsepower, two 500 horsepower. These move water from headwaters of Cherry Creek, at a diversion point near Stroh Road, through a 3-mile, 48-inch-diameter steel pipe that runs up a 250-foot-high hill before it reaches Rueter-Hess.
Then there’s the matter of obtaining enough water to fill Rueter-Hess, factoring in annual evaporation losses of about 3 percent.
Parker secured limited junior rights to surface water and, in May 2011, began diverting to fill the reservoir. When senior rights holders call for water in dry times, Parker’s diversions must stop. Today, Rueter-Hess holds 21,000 acre-feet.
The water treatment plant uses state-of-the-art filtering and chemical treatments to remove algae and minerals such as phosphorus so that the reservoir water is safe.
As Parker Water’s team formally opened the plant last month, [Ron] Redd said state planners will need to get started soon.
“It took Parker Water 25 years,” he said. “They’ll probably need more storage than what they are indicating. … You’re never disappointed with more storage.”