Study: Elbert County water supplies look good into the future

Denver Basin aquifer map

From The Elbert County News (Jodi Horner):

The purpose of the study was to determine what water sources would be available to the county through 2050.

Forsgren found that Elbert County has 54 million acre-feet of water available right now…

The study found that the rate of use is affecting water availability at a rate of less than 1 percent a year.

In 2018 the demand volume is anticipated at 8,100 acre-feet per year (AFY). By the year 2050 the expected demand is 9,005 AFY.

“Based on population projections by DOLA, the county has enough water for in excess of 300 years,” said County Commissioner Grant Thayer, a retired engineer with experience in reservoir engineering.

Variables considered

When Forsgren assembled information for the case scenarios of how the county might source water in the future, it took into account four variables: agricultural transfers (if a shift in agriculture occurs and how that would impact water supply), non-renewable groundwater, reusable water and imported water.

Koger reiterated that importing water is not the goal at this point.

“It is not easy; it requires an expensive infrastructure,” he said. “It’s much cheaper to drill for water.”

[…]

The impact of Douglas County and surrounding areas was brought up several times throughout the evening.

“How can it (the water level) be measured if Douglas County goes crazy and pumps a lot, what does it do to us?” Paul Hunter of Elizabeth asked.

Koger, who lives in Elbert County, agreed that water usage in surrounding areas will impact the water levels beneath Elbert County.

“We are dependent on how quickly people around us use water,” he said.

“Everyone is using the same aquifers,” Koger said, indicating that the study was specifically done to find out how much water the county has available and “project out what the options would be for Elbert County.”

“It’s a planning study — we are finding what looks like a likely future,” Koger explained. “There are so many variables ahead of us — it’s more of a matter of monitoring what’s going on and planning for what we think will happen.”

[…]

The Forsgren presentation of the preliminary draft information is available to download from the Elbert County website at http://www.elbertcounty-co.gov.

El Paso County inks deal with Forsgren Associates, Inc for water master plan

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Rachel Riley):

Last week, county commissioners approved a roughly $272,000 contract with Englewood-based engineering firm Forsgren Associates, Inc., to develop a water master plan. The document, expected to be finished by the end of 2018, will map providers’ water sources and infrastructure, clear the way for water to be considered earlier in the county’s development review process and make forward-thinking recommendations, Dossey said.

As the region’s population increases, so does the demand for water, a dwindling resource in the arid high desert of Colorado’s Front Range and plains. Small, rural districts can’t rely indefinitely on overdrawn aquifers. Nor can they afford massively expensive pipeline projects, such as Utilities’ $825 million Southern Delivery System, or to buy rights to water west of the Continental Divide, where most of the state’s supply is found.

“We’re talking 50 to 100 years out that we’re going to see issues, potentially, with water supply,” Dossey said. “It’s important that the county take the lead and work with each of the providers to work on a plan for the future.”

If water providers in the Colorado Springs vicinity don’t replace existing groundwater sources with more reliable water supplies by 2030, it could result in an annual regional shortfall of up to 25,000 acre-feet, or more than 8 billion gallons, according to Utilities’ Integrated Water Resource Plan, which was approved in February.

“There’s a huge gap to fill if we’re going to continue to grow,” said Dave Doran, a director for the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District in eastern El Paso County. “There’s just so many more straws in the ground. Inevitably, these aquifers are dropping rapidly.”

Tens of thousands of residents rely on groundwater drawn from the depleting aquifers of the Denver Basin, according to local water officials.

How fast water levels within the Denver Basin aquifers are falling is up for debate. Kip Petersen, general manager for the Donala Water and Sanitation District, believes the aquifers could dwindle to a point where it would no longer be cost-effective for providers to pump water from them within the next 50 years.

“The water that we’re pulling out has been there for millions and millions of years. Once that water’s out, it’s out,” said Petersen, whose district services about 2,800 homes in the Gleneagle area. “That’s the big search right now – how do we offset a declining aquifer like the Denver basin with a renewable source?”

Petersen’s district is one of the few in the county that’s secured renewable water sources, including water rights to a Leadville ranch and Fountain Creek, to serve about a third of its customers, he said.

Utilities’ water resource plan, a roughly $2 million project, explores options for how the agency might help smaller providers fill a supply gap. One possibility would allow the providers to use Utilities’ delivery infrastructure during wetter years when demand falls in Colorado Springs. Another potential solution would involve Utilities selling other entities water to supplement existing resources. But with so-called “regionalization” comes a host of technical and legal challenges. The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee is researching the risks and benefits of working with smaller providers in the Pikes Peak region, said Steve Berry, a Utilities spokesman.

Castle Rock Water recognized as industry leader for the second year in a row

Castle Rock and Pikes Peak. Photo credit VisitCastleRock.org

Here’s the release from Castle Rock:

Whether it’s paving the way with a long-term water plan, rising to the challenge of having the best tasting water in Colorado, or setting an example for conservation – Castle Rock Water is a leader in the water industry. For the second year in a row, the department is being recognized for its efforts.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded Castle Rock Water the Gold Award in the Pursing Excellence Program for the department’s push to go above and beyond regulatory compliance. In 2015, Castle Rock Water was the first water provider in Colorado to receive the Gold Tier.

The award noted the Town’s steps to be a leader in the industry and share best practices with other organizations. The department was also recognized for its operational procedures for source water protection measures, treatment goals and distribution components.

Additionally, the department was recognized for four other actions:

  • Large meter audit – this audit examined the 5 percent of customers that make up 30 percent of consumption
  • Lateral arm well placement – this plan involves the innovative use of horizontal arms for vertical well production; horizontal arms doubles the production of vertical wells
  • Valve and hydrant maintenance program – with this program in place, repair and emergency budgets are easier to estimate; additionally, customers are better informed of outages
  • Chemical optimization – continually analyzing the chemical solutions used for water treatment to ensure the highest quality water and lowest treatment costs
  • “Castle Rock Water’s faithful commitment to the environment extends to our staff, our customers and to the community in which we operate,” said Castle Rock Water Director Mark Marlowe. “We take our motto, be water wise, to heart, and are committed to being a leader among the water industry.”

    To find out more about everything happening with Castle Rock Water, head to http://CRgov.com/water, or check out the new conservation website http://CRconserve.com.

    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

    South Metro drops plans to export Ark Valley water — The Pueblo Chieftain

    WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority
    WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A new long-term plan by the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which serves 13 water providers in the greater Denver-Aurora area, avoids any mention of taking water from the Arkansas River basin.

    That’s significant, because the group’s 2007 master plan included two possible pipeline routes from the Arkansas River basin as a way of filling future water supply needs. Located in some of the fastest-growing areas of Colorado, South Metro’s population increased to 325,000 in 2016 from 250,000 in 2005.

    South Metro communities were built on water from the Denver Basin aquifer, but began shifting their focus to finding new renewable supplies, conservation and increasing efficiency as ways to stretch their supplies.

    “I think our members wanted to focus on projects that are on a foreseeable timetable,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the authority. “The study confirms our region’s tremendous progress toward securing a sustainable water future. There is more to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path.”

    With Pure Cycle’s sale of its Fort Lyon Canal water rights last year, no South Metro member has any projects planned in the Arkansas Valley. Pure Cycle is connected to the emerging Rangeview district east of Aurora.

    Annual demand for South Metro is expected to more than double to 120,000 acre-feet (39 billion gallons) by 2065. Increased storage, expanded use of the WISE agreement with Denver and Aurora and continuing conservation efforts are expected to fill 38,400 acre-feet in the next 50 years.

    The WISE agreement allows South Metro areas to reuse return flows from the Denver area through Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project. Reuter-Hess Reservoir and the East Cherry Creek Valley pipeline have opened new ways to use water. Per capita use in the South Metro area has decreased 30 percent since 2000.

    Another 30,000 acre-feet annually of new supplies still are needed by 2065, according to the revised master plan released Tuesday. About two-thirds of that supply is identified in existing projects, but the plan proposes finding the remainder through cooperative agreements with other users in the South Platte and through the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, Hecox said.

    Finally, individual members of the South Metro group are developing innovative solutions. For instance, Sterling Ranch is harvesting rainwater and incorporating conservation into land-use design. Other communities have initiated landscape regulations and some are even paying property owners to remove turf or plants that use excessive amounts of water. Some rate structures have been changed to promote conservation.

    The new plan fits in with Colorado’s Water Plan, which seeks collaborative solutions rather than buying agricultural water rights and drying up farmland.

    “A remarkable transformation is happening in the South Metro region,” said James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation board. “Colorado’s Water Plan calls for innovative water management and this study demonstrates how this important region is transitioning to a more sustainable water supply.”

    Triview Metropolitan District enacts emergency water restrictions

    Water infrastructure as sidewalk art
    Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

    From KOAA.com (Andy Koen):

    Neighboring water districts in the Monument area sending help to the Triview Metro District which enacted emergency restrictions Tuesday amid an unexpected water shortage.

    The Town of Monument notified residents via Facebook that the Donala Water District, which has a connection with Triview, will open their line temporarily to help during the shortage. The Town of Monument does not have a direct connection with Triview, but manager Chris Howe said they will send some utility workers to help where needed.

    Triview District Manager Valerie Remington said the district noticed a spike in demand in mid-June. There was another peak on Monday diminishing the water supply to an emergency level.

    Remington said there were no obvious signs of a major pipe break. They have not filed a report of a water theft with local law enforcement, but Remington said they have not ruled out the possibility.

    “We haven’t ruled out any of the different possibilities right now,” she said. “I can’t say, since we don’t know what it is, I can’t say what it is what else I can’t say what it isn’t.”

    Triview recently charged a transmission line to service the new Sanctuary Point development. Remington said no houses have been built there and the district ruled out that line a source of the sudden drop in supply.

    Under the emergency restrictions, customers are prohibited from outdoor watering. Customers who violate the restriction will be warned on their first offense. Second offenses carry a $50 fine, third offenses a $500 fine and all subsequent offenses will be fined $750.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Kaitlin Durbin):

    Outside watering is suspended for Monument residents.

    Following a period of high usage, the Triview Metropolitan District has restricted outside watering “until further notice,” according to its website.

    “We are continuing to experience a water problem and are asking that all residents stop outside watering until we are able to correct the issue,” the district said.

    According to Gazette news partner KKTV, a spike in use around the holiday is to blame.

    The district said demand among its 4,200 customers has risen to about 2 million gallons of water per day. Just one of the district’s eight wells has the capacity to pump 1.8 million gallons of water each day, KKTV reported.

    “The restrictions went into place on July 4 as we noticed that our tank levels were always getting lower and we were having trouble recovering,” District Manager Valerie Remington told KKTV.

    Monument: Consumption exceeds Triview’s Denver Basin well capacity

    Denver Basin aquifer map
    Denver Basin aquifer map

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Chhun Sun):

    The district used about 2 million gallons of water a day over the last two weeks.

    The district’s eight wells – located in Denver and Arapahoe – produce a daily pump of 1.8 million gallons.

    “Recent water demand within the Triview Metropolitan District has far exceeded anything that the district has experienced in the past,” the district stated. “For the time being, the district, as a whole, needs to reduce usage overall to ensure that sufficient water tank storage can be maintained to supply more critical household needs and potential fire fighting requirements.”

    The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District first learned about the water restrictions Friday.