A WISE Approach to Water Reuse: Q&A with Lisa Darling — @WaterEdCo

WISE Project map via Denver Water

Click here to go to Water Education Colorado (Rachel Champion) and read the whole interview. Here’s an excerpt:

Lisa Darling, Water Education Colorado’s trusted board president, has years of experience working with water reuse—we sat down with her to learn more. Lisa works as executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA), an organization that formed in 2004 when rapidly-growing south metro communities reliant on declining non-renewable groundwater realized they had to shift their water portfolios if they were to be sustainable. Now SMWSA relies on the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership (WISE) between Denver Water, Aurora Water, and 13 SMWSA members, reusing water from Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project—which Lisa worked on for Aurora before moving to SMWSA in 2017. An excerpt of the interview is available in the fall 2018 issue of Headwaters magazine, but you can follow along with the full interview here!

WISE water arrives in Castle Rock; join the celebration June 8 — @crgov

WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

Here’s the release from the Town of Castle Rock:

For years, Castle Rock Water has made providing long term, renewable water a priority. Now, a major milestone has been reached and the first drops of WISE water are headed to Town. Join the celebration to help commemorate this accomplishment and take a look at what’s coming up next for water in Castle Rock.

The fun-filled family celebration will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 8. Bring the kids, sunscreen and a great attitude to Gemstone Park, 6148 Sapphire Pointe Blvd., to join the festivities and celebrate the WISE water partnership.

After stakeholders officially cut the ribbon, the community is invited for a festival full of games, food trucks, bump soccer, bounce houses, a foam party, giant bubbles, water colors and more. Plus, get a chance to meet the Most Hydrated Man in Castle Rock.

Learn more about the celebration at http://CRgov.com/WISEWater.

The celebration will help mark more than 9 years of planning and $50 million in infrastructure to help ensure the community’s strong water future. When the WISE partnership was created, many communities in Colorado were faced with a drought. With limited, non-renewable resources, communities knew they needed to come up with a plan. Regional water providers saw the opportunity to partner in a solution and share in the expense to buy, transport and treat renewable water.

The WISE partnership is an arrangement between Denver Water, Aurora Water and 10 other south metro water providers to import renewable water. Castle Rock is the southernmost community partner.

Castle Rock Water finished the last piece of infrastructure – connecting a pipeline from Outter Marker Road to Ray Waterman Treatment Plant – in late 2017. The first drops of imported WISE water came to Town in late April.

Follow the entire journey for WISE water with the Most Hydrated Man at http://CRgov.com/WISEWater.

Fire near Strontia Springs a worry for Metro area water suppliers

Photo credit: Douglas County Sherriff (@dcsheriff).

From The Denver Post (Kieran Nicholson):

The Waterton fire grew to about 6 acres Thursday night at dusk, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire is burning through a watershed that supplies 80 percent of the drinking water to Denver residents, according to a Pike National Forest news release.

Firefighting crews were on scene Thursday evening, and a helicopter was making water drops on the fire, the sheriff’s office said…

The fire is zero percent contained.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was a storm, however, in the area about noon, when the fire broke out.

Smoke jumpers from Pocatello, Idaho, were on scene Thursday and air tankers, helicopters, hand crews and additional resources were on order.

Denver Water officials were also on scene Thursday. Officials hope to have the popular canyon open for the holiday weekend, further details on accessibility will be released Friday afternoon.

WISE Partnership delivers water, marks new era of cooperation #ColoradoRiver #COriver

WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

Here’s the release from the WISE Project:

Denver, Aurora and South Metro region connect water systems to maximize efficiencies

DENVER, Aug. 16, 2017 – One of the most exciting water projects in Colorado’s history is now live. After years of planning and development of critical infrastructure, water deliveries have begun for the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership, known as WISE.

“This is a significant new chapter in Colorado’s water history,” said John Stulp, special policy advisor to Gov. John Hickenlooper on water and chairman of the state’s Interbasin Compact Committee. “With the start of WISE deliveries, we are ushering in a new era of regional collaboration and partnership for the benefit of current and future generations in the Denver metropolitan area.”

WISE is a regional water supply project that combines available water supplies and system capacities among Denver Water, Aurora Water and the South Metro WISE Authority, which consists of 10 water providers serving Douglas and Arapahoe counties. Participating South Metro communities include Highlands Ranch, Parker and Castle Rock, among others.

“The state water plan identified regional collaboration and partnerships as key to a secure water future for Colorado,” said Lisa Darling, executive director of the South Metro WISE Authority. “WISE is a perfect example of the benefits that can come from such an approach.”

The innovative regional partnership is one of the first of its kind in the West and a major component to the region’s cooperative efforts to address long-term water supply needs. The WISE project has garnered unprecedented statewide support for its collaborative approach, which draws a stark contrast to water feuds of the past.

WISE allows the participating water entities to share existing water supplies, infrastructure and other assets in the South Platte River basin in ways that are mutually beneficial.

For communities in the South Metro region, WISE provides an additional source of renewable and reliable water supply and helps to reduce historical reliance on nonrenewable groundwater. Since the early 2000s, the region has made tremendous progress transitioning to a renewable water supply while ramping up conservation efforts.

For Denver, WISE adds a new emergency supply and creates more system flexibility, while allowing Denver Water to use water imported from the Colorado River multiple times for multiple purposes. For Aurora, WISE creates revenue that helps stabilize rates for municipal customers while creating added value from existing water and infrastructure.

“WISE promotes the efficient use of water through full utilization of existing resources,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead. “Through this project, we’ve created a sustainable water supply without having to divert additional water out of mountain streams.”

“This is a positive development for Colorado’s water community,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. “It is critically important that water utilities and providers are working together to meet Colorado’s water needs, and I commend this partnership.”

By reusing water imported from the Colorado River through Denver Water’s water rights, the project provides a new sustainable supply without additional Colorado River diversions. A portion of the WISE water rate also goes to the Colorado River District to support river enhancements within the Colorado River basin.

In 2015 WISE became the first water infrastructure project ever to receive funding from Basin Roundtables — groups of regional water leaders who help shape statewide water policy — across the state because of the example it set of regional cooperation. It also received financial support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

“The WISE Partnership is a great example of communities working together to creatively address the water demands of Colorado’s growing Front Range,” said Laura Belanger, water resources engineer with Western Resource Advocates. “We commend the project partners for successfully implementing this innovative and flexible project that utilizes existing infrastructure to share water supplies between communities, increasing reuse, and helping keep Colorado rivers healthy and flowing.”

Others expressing public support of the project include Gov. Hickenlooper; U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner; U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Mike Coffman; and David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Since finalizing the WISE delivery agreement in 2013, WISE members have been hard at work putting in place the infrastructure and processes that will allow the parties across the Denver metro area to combine water supplies and system capacities.

Work included:
· Purchasing a 20-mile pipeline to carry water from Aurora to Denver and South Metro;
· Building a new water tank near E-470 and Smoky Hill Road;
· Connecting an array of existing underground pipelines; and
· Developing a new computer system that enables up-to-the-minute coordination between all entities.

CFWE Board Member Lisa Darling to Head South Metro Water Supply Authority

Your Water Colorado Blog

lisa-darling-headshotColorado Foundation for Water Education board member Lisa Darling, a leader with 25 years of experience in Colorado water resources, is the new executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Darling has served on the CFWE board since 2012.

Darling will work with SMWSA’s 13 water provider members to continue the region’s progress toward securing a sustainable water future for its residents. Together, SMWSA members provide water to 80 percent of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County.

“Lisa is a highly respected leader on Colorado water resources with a proven ability to advance our agenda for meeting the water needs of generations to come in the South Denver Metro area,” said Dave Kaunisto, president of the SMWSA board of directors. “She will be a tremendous advocate for our members as we continue to implement our strategic plan.”

Darling served 18 years with Aurora Water, the state’s…

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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.”

SMWSA: South Metro Denver on Path to Sustainable Water Future

Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority:

  • SMWSA Master Plan shows tremendous progress transitioning to renewable water
  • South Metro region now a state leader in conservation, efficiency and reuse
  • Hecox: ‘More to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path’
  • The South Denver Metro region has made tremendous progress securing a sustainable water future over the past 12 years thanks to aggressive efforts to conserve water, maximize efficiency and invest in renewable water supplies, according to the results of the 2016 South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA) Master Plan Update.

    “A remarkable transformation is happening in the South Metro region,” said James Eklund, director of the state’s water agency and architect of Colorado’s Water Plan. “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.”

    South Metro Water Supply Authority boundaries
    South Metro Water Supply Authority boundaries

    The report, produced by SMWSA and its technical consultant, CH2M, is the most definitive study of water demand and supplies of the region in nearly a decade.

    “The study confirms our region’s tremendous progress toward securing a sustainable water future,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “There is more to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path.”

    Historically many communities in the region relied on nonrenewable groundwater from the Denver Basin Aquifer system for much of their water supply. For some, it was their only water supply as recently as 12 years ago. The significant decline in groundwater levels was unsustainable and threatened to undermine the region’s economic vitality and overall quality of life.

    Recognizing the challenge, water providers joined forces in 2004 to create SMWSA and develop a plan. The result of that work to date is outlined in the Master Plan update:

  • Transition to renewable water: In 2004, less than half of the region’s water supply came from renewable sources. By 2020, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of the region’s water supply will come from renewable water supplies, according to the study. This marks a significant transformation of the region’s water supply. By 2065, a full 85 percent of the region’s supplies will come from renewable sources, according to the study. Notably, this progress is being made despite a projected 130 percent increase in total water demand over the same period.
  • Investment in renewable water projects: This transition to renewable water is the result of a number of regional projects that communities throughout the region have invested in, including WISE, the Chatfield Reallocation Project, Reuter Hess Reservoir, the ACCWA/ECCV Northern Project, Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Water Purification Facility and many more.
  • Leading in conservation: The South Metro region has established itself as a leader in conservation and water stewardship with some of the strongest and most effective conservation efforts of any region in the state. Per capita water demand in the region decreased by 30 percent since 2000. The region now boasts among the lowest consumption rates in the state.
  • Maximizing efficiency: SMWSA and its members are maximizing water efficiency by reusing water to the fullest extent possible. “This is tremendous progress given the immense water challenges the region faced just 12 years ago,” said Mike Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We are on a path to a secure and sustainable water supply, which is critical to maintaining our region’s excellent quality of life and economic vitality for future generations.”
  • More Work Ahead

    While the region is on track to meet projected demand as far out as 2065, more work is needed to ensure that happens, Hecox said.

    Future possible projects and plans include adding new supply and storage, groundwater management, conservation and efficiency.

    “We must execute on current plans, continue our conservation efforts, build our renewable supplies and maximize what we have through reuse,” Hecox said. “If we continue the course, we will deliver on our promise of a secure water future for the region.”