2017 #coleg: Rep. Jeni Arndt is proposing a framework for ASR projects

Colorado Capitol building
Colorado Capitol building

From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Nick Caltrain):

“It’s another storage vehicle,” state Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, said. “It’s logical, it’s practical. It should be part of our future water plan.”

To that extent, Arndt introduced a bill in the Legislature requiring the state engineer to create rules for artificially recharging these [aquifers]…

The proposal doesn’t jump-start the development of aquifer recharging programs, but it would create the framework for such programs at a state level. Arndt and others said the key is putting in guards against contaminating an aquifer and avoiding entanglements with the water rights of individuals and neighboring states.

It’s not as revolutionary an idea as some may think. Denver Water is working on a pilot program for aquifer storage and recovery and Arizona uses aquifer recharging to prevent undue evaporation in desert climates.

“It’s not really debatable if (aquifer recharging) is proven or not. It is,” said Joe Meigs, a senior project manager with Lytle Water Solutions. “It would be really good if people embraced that and then people tried to move forward with an (aquifer recharge) program to buffer their water supplies.”

Typical use of these programs works like this, he said: Some years have a lot of surface water, such as when high snow totals melt and flow down the Rockies and inundate normal needs. When that happens, some of the overflow is diverted back into the aquifers — after a making sure its clean, of course — where it can be pumped out during low-flow periods…

Brian Werner, spokesperson for Northern Water, said recharging aquifers along the north Front Range wouldn’t be a panacea for Northern Colorado’s future water needs. Northern Water looked at the hydrology of the area and concluded that above-ground storage remains the “biggest bang for your buck.” Northern Water is proposing the controversial Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would include construction of the Glade and Galeton reservoirs in Northern Colorado.