Douglas County to developers: Focus more on a renewable supply

Denver Basin aquifer map
Denver Basin aquifer map

From The Golden Transcript (Jessica Gibbs):

The county held a late afternoon public workshop on Nov. 14 for proposed changes to the county’s water zoning plan.

Conversation was diligent and thorough, despite a sparsely attended meeting of six people in addition to county staff.

The exact portion of the plan under review is Section 18A, which helps determine if a proposed development has an adequate water supply, particularly in terms of quality, quantity and dependability. Douglas County’s Board of Commissioners first adopted 18A in 1998, but it has been revised in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013.

County experts said the regulations are primarily for new housing developments or properties seeking to rezone for reasons like expansion. Additionally, they mostly pertain to unincorporated Douglas County, as most municipalities or other water districts have their own regulations.

The main changes in Section 18A were to remove about 15 pages of repetitive sections and more clearly explain if a developer would qualify.

But staff also has proposed Section 18B, an entirely new set of regulations that will act as an alternative to Section 18A.

As the resolution stands, developers must meet a water demand standard of .75 acre-feet per residence per year.

A demand standard is an estimate of how much water a household or development will need, said Kati Rider, a planning resource supervisor with Douglas County.

An acre-foot is how water is measured. One way to think of it, Rider said, is to imagine it as the equivalent to the amount of water that woud spread across an acre of land at one foot deep.

However, county staff said, the average household uses closer to .40 or .45 acre-feet. The .75 standard is costly for developers and may require them to source more water than necessary.

“This revision may matter to residents as it may be a way to encourage new development to utilize renewable water resources, rather than groundwater, in all areas of the county,” Rider said.

Under 18B, developers could propose higher-density developments if they also promise to use less groundwater, rely on more renewable water sources and prove they can accomplish that goal.

Not more than 50 percent of the water supply could come from non-renewable sources. Although the overall amount of water use might be greater, the hope is to encourage a more environmental approach.

If the amendments continue to gain traction, they would pass before the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners for final approval.

Public comment is accepted at http://www.douglas.co.us through Nov. 23. Information aboutthe amendments may be found through the county’s Project Records Online (PRO) online tool.

Commissioners will schedule a work session to review the input after public comment closes.

douglascounty

@OmahaUSACE: Public meetings scheduled to discuss Cherry Creek Dam studies

Cherry Creek Dam looking south
Cherry Creek Dam looking south

Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Eileen Williamson):

Three public meetings to provide an update on the status of two studies taking place at Cherry Creek Dam are scheduled for the week of September 20.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings to provide a status update on alternatives under consideration to address risks from extreme storm events associated with Cherry Creek Dam including a study to modify the dam’s water control plan.
The meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.
    Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church
    Rooms 112/113 (Main Building)
    10150 E. Belleview Avenue
    Englewood, CO 80111
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Virginia Village Library
    1500 S. Dahlia Street
    Denver, CO 80222
  • Thursday, Sept. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Aurora Municipal Center
    City Café
    15151 E. Alameda Parkway
    Aurora, CO 80012
  • The public meetings will include a presentation and an open house to provide the public an opportunity to ask questions about Cherry Creek Dam and the alternatives being presented and considered as part of the Dam Safety Modification Study and Water Control Plan Modification Study.

    Meeting materials will be made available online following the meetings at http://go.usa.gov/cQ7hP.

    Background: Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir is located in the southeast Denver metropolitan area on Cherry Creek, 11.4 miles upstream of its confluence with the South Platte River.

    In 2005, (post-Katrina) USACE began screening its dams (approximately 700 across the U.S.) to determine each dam’s risk level. Cherry Creek Dam received an elevated risk rating primarily because of the large downstream population and the potential for overtopping during an extremely rare precipitation event.

    A dam safety modification study began in 2013 and is being conducted in accordance with USACE policy as described in Engineering Regulation 1110-2-1156 “Safety of Dams – Policy and Procedures.” An Environmental Impact Statement is also being prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

    Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar — Audubon

    Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).
    Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).

    Click here for all the inside skinny and to register. From the website:

    You Can Help Rivers: Create Habitat!

    Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar.
    Thursday, July 21, Noon – 1 p.m. MT
    Register here.

    Co-presented by:
    Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead, Audubon Rockies
    Don Ireland, Habitat Hero Award Winner and Volunteer HOA President, Cherry Creek 3

    Did you know native landscaping can save both significant water and money? When we say significant, we mean it! Find out how a neighborhood in southeast Denver saved 15 million gallons of water and $100,000 annually by transforming to native landscaping and incorporating water efficiency into everyday life.

    The Cherry Creek 3 Homeowner’s Association (HOA) won the 2015 Colorado WaterWise Conservation Award for their efforts! HOA Volunteer President Don Ireland will talk about how he and fellow volunteers led this 251-condo development into a new era of water conservation while simultaneously establishing a new landscaping plan that has attracted many new birds and pollinators into the neighborhood. This HOA, without formal training in water conservation but with a burning desire to “do the right thing,” has been a poster child for water conservation and Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program around the Front Range and beyond.

    Register for this webinar today.

    You may also be interested in these upcoming webinars from Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network:

  • Wednesday, July 20, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Lake Mead Structural Deficit and Why it Matters
    Presented by Kevin Moran, Senior Director of Water Programs, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Wednesday, August 7, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Diversity and Inclusion in Conservation and Advocacy
    Presented by Chandra Taylor Smith, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, National Audubon Society
  • Wednesday, September 21, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: River Funding and Restoration Efforts
    Presented by Jennifer Pitt, Director – Colorado River Project, National Audubon Society and Scott Deeny, Arizona Water Program Lead, The Nature Conservancy
  • High Line Canal Conservancy Launches New Public Planning Initiative to Re-imagine the 71-Mile Trail Corridor

    Highline Canal Denver
    Highline Canal Denver

    Here’s the release from the High Line Canal Conservancy (Suzanna Jones):

    The High Line Canal Conservancy, which is dedicated to preserving the recreational and environmental future of the High Line Canal, today announced the launch of the High Line Canal public planning initiative. The public planning initiative is part of a large-scale planning program to ensure the well-loved Canal trail reaches its potential as an economic, environmental, recreational and social asset along all of its 71 miles. The goal of the public outreach and visioning phase, called “Adventure on the Canal: Charting our course for the next century,” is to develop a shared vision for the Canal that will guide the future planning process.

    “Today begins a region-wide conversation led by the High Line Canal Conservancy to rehabilitate this beloved corridor into a legacy greenway that unifies and celebrates the distinct communities it intersects,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This project joins a statewide effort to get people outdoors and connect with the beauty of Colorado.”

    Gov. John Hickenlooper will help kick off the public planning initiative at the High Line Canal and Triple Creek Trail connection ribbon cutting and bike ride in Aurora on Tuesday, May 31 at 12:10 p.m. Following the press conference, the Governor will begin a bike ride along the Canal with local children from Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), assisted by Bicycle Colorado, and continue with a small select group of riders for a portion of the trail. The Governor will have an opportunity to see some of the challenges presenting the Canal currently.

    “The High Line Canal Conservancy is thrilled to work with the Governor and other leaders throughout the region to preserve and transform this outmoded water delivery corridor into a legacy greenway that unifies and celebrates the distinct communities along the High Line Canal,” said Harriet Crittenden LaMair, Executive Director of the High Line Canal Conservancy. “We’re thrilled to have Governor Hickenlooper’s help launching the public outreach phase of this project, asking the public to consider how they view the long-term purpose of the Canal.”

    Following the kickoff event, the Conservancy will launch its summer outreach “Adventure on the High Line Canal,” which will include a series of community open houses, events and other engaging activities in various locations across the region. These gatherings will be interactive, fun opportunities where participants can share the reasons they love the Canal and help write a new chapter for the Canal’s future.

    Each series of community open houses includes 3 identical gatherings in various locations along the Canal’s reach and represents an important chapter in the mission to chart the High Line Canal’s course for the next century. Together, the four series follow the arc of a typical story. Chapter One – “Our Journey Begins” will kick off the week of June 6 at Aurora Central Library, the Lowry Town Center and Goodson Recreation Center. At these introductory open house events, we’ll take a journey together along all 71 miles of the Canal, from the foothills to the plains, and you’ll be able to share your ideas and feedback every step of the way.

    Chapter Two – “A Fork in the Road” will be held the week of July 18 at Expo Recreation Center, Eloise May Library and Eisenhower Recreation Center. This set of community open houses will be the second chapter of the story, bringing residents together to focus on the Canal’s future opportunities and challenges. We’ll explore how each of these ideas could impact the Canal’s narrative in the years to come and ask for your feedback.

    Chapter 3 – “Our Story” will be held the week of September 5 at locations to be set in the future. This third chapter will focus on presenting the initial vision reached by residents, the draft shared vision for the Canal, asking the public to share their feedback and input on the shared vision for the Canal.

    Chapter 4 – “Looking Ahead” will be held the week of October 16 at locations to be set in the future. This fourth set of open houses represents the final chapter, the draft action plan, determined by feedback from the public. It will be focused on implementation and next steps, and will continue to rely on feedback from the public about the final preferred vision for the Canal.

    In addition, online surveys will be available in June and July, providing additional opportunities for input. Visit highlinecanal.org.

    Anyone can participate throughout the launch and subsequent events on social media by following @COHighLineCanal and using the hashtag #71Miles.

    Here’s how to stay updated on High Line Canal project updates:

    The High Line Canal newsletter.

    High Line Canal’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

    Participate in public meetings: http://highlinecanal.org/community

    Take online surveys, which will be active throughout the summer by visiting http://highlinecanal.org/surveys

    Help us spread the word: Please invite your friends and neighbors to participate too!

    ABOUT THE HIGH LINE CANAL CONSERVANCY

    The High Line Canal Conservancy was formed in 2014 by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal. With support from each jurisdiction and in partnership with Denver Water, the Conservancy is connecting stakeholders in support of comprehensive planning to ensure that the Canal is protected and enhanced for future generations. For more information, please visit http://www.highlinecanal.org.

    @OmahaUSACE: The annual sediment flushing exercise will be completed at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Cherry Creek Dam looking south
    Cherry Creek Dam looking south

    Here’s the release from the USACE Omaha office (Katie Seefus):

    The annual sediment flushing exercise will be completed at Cherry Creek Reservoir, near Aurora, Colorado on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

    Katie Seefus, water manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District office, says the exercise involves high releases from each of the five main outlet gates at Cherry Creek Dam, located south of Interstate 225 in Aurora. “When the gates are opened, the high velocity of the water leaving the reservoir scours the area immediately upstream of the gates and transports sediment with the flow,” said Seefus. The sediment flush is required to allow proper operation of the outlet gates.

    Cherry Creek Dam will begin releasing 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31. The actual flushing exercise will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1 when the release will be set back to normal levels. The travel time from Cherry Creek Dam to the streamgage located at the Champa Street Bridge, is about 6 hours…

    Omaha District Commander Col. John Henderson asks the public to be aware that the high flows will take some time to reach the downtown channel, and flows from the last gate opened will not reach the downtown channel until late afternoon on Wednesday. The high flows will cause higher than normal creek stages and potential flooding of bike paths and stream crossings. “In the interest of public safety, I urge the public to not attempt to cross the stream during this event,” says Henderson.

    Parker Water schedules 2016 election

    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker
    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker

    From Parker Water via The Parker Chronicle:

    The Parker Water & Sanitation District is putting out a call for candidates to fill three vacancies on its board of directors.

    The May 3 mail-ballot election will enable district customers to vote on candidates to assume seats held by Kelly McCurry, Bill Wasserman and Dale Reiman, whose terms expire this year. Prospective candidates must file “affidavits of intent” to the Parker Water & Sanitation District by Feb. 29, according to a resolution passed by the current board on Jan. 14.

    If there are “not more candidates than offices to be filled,” district manager Ron Redd, who is serving as the designated election official, will cancel the election and declare the candidates elected, the resolution said.

    For more information, go to http://www.pwsd.org, email rredd@pwsd.org or call 303-841-4627.

    Providers utilizing the Denver Basin Aquifer are moving towards supply security

    Denver Basin aquifer map
    Denver Basin aquifer map

    From the Centennial Citizen (Paul Donahue and Eric Hecox):

    Is our water future secure?

    It’s a question on the minds of many in Castle Rock and the entire south metro Denver region — and for good reason. After all, water is what makes our outstanding quality of life possible. If we want future generations to enjoy our communities as we do, we must ensure they have access to a secure and sustainable water supply that meets their future needs.

    From conversations throughout the region, we know Castle Rock residents and those in the entire south metro area understand the critical role water plays in delivering the quality of life we desire for our children, in addition to supporting property values, job creation and economic growth.

    We know residents are aware the region historically has relied too heavily on declining groundwater supplies and must diversify its supply for long-term sustainability. We know they view water as a top priority for the region and support an all-of-the-above approach that includes conservation and reuse, storage and new renewable supplies.

    We also know Castle Rock residents as well as residents across the south metro area value partnership among leaders throughout the region to get the job done in the most economically responsible manner. Working together to secure water rights, build infrastructure and efficiently use storage space helps spread the costs and the benefits to customers throughout the region.

    The answer to the question on people’s minds is not clear-cut. While our region is on the path to delivering a secure water future for generations to come, this effort is ongoing and will require continued support from our communities to see it through to the end.

    The good news is that we have a plan, and we are executing that plan.

    Thanks to innovative conservation approaches, the region has seen a 30 percent decrease in per capita water use since 2000. That means the typical south metro household or business, including those in Castle Rock, is using 30 percent less water than just 15 years ago. Declines in the region’s underground aquifers — historically the main water source for the region — have slowed considerably in that same time period, a testament to efforts across the region to diversify water supplies and maximize efficiency through reuse.

    At the same time, major new water infrastructure projects are coming online throughout the region that bring new renewable supplies, storage capacity and reuse capabilities. These include the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) Partnership with Denver Water, Aurora and several other regional organizations including Castle Rock Water, the Chatfield Reallocation Project, Rueter-Hess Reservoir, the Northern Project and Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Purification Facility, to name a few.

    The 13 members that make up the South Metro Water Supply Authority provide water to 80 percent of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County. Together, they are partnering among each other as well as with local government leadership and water entities across the region and state to execute their plan to secure a sustainable water future for the region.

    Since becoming a member of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Castle Rock Water has helped lead implementation of the WISE project, new water storage reservoir projects and other regional renewable water supply efforts. WISE water will be available to Castle Rock residents by 2017 and even earlier for some of the other South Metro residents. A project like WISE represents as much as 10 percent of the renewable water needed for both current and future residents in Castle Rock.

    The members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, including Castle Rock, each have long-term water plans. Through partnerships, these projects are made possible by sharing in the needed investments and other resources when completing the time-consuming task of acquiring additional renewable water and building the required infrastructure.

    This collaboration is supported by the state and is in line with the Colorado Water Plan. This regional support has been critical in providing feasible strategies to ensure water for future generations.

    Is our water future secure? No, not yet. But we’re well on our way to getting there.

    Paul Donahue is the mayor of Castle Rock and has served on the town council for eight years. Eric Hecox is the director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, a regional water authority made up of 13 water provider members that collectively serve more than 300,000 residents as well as businesses in the south metro Denver area. South Metro Water’s membership spans much of Douglas County and parts of Arapahoe County, including Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Parker and Castle Pines.