WISE Project turns dirt on final piece of infrastructure

WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

From The Douglas County News Press (Elliott Wenzler):

A 2-million-gallon underground water tank, which will be the final piece of major infrastructure for the regional Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) project, is under construction in northwest Douglas County…

“This will be big enough to provide most of the (water) demands that would be necessary for Douglas County for a long time,” said Mary Kay Provaznik, general manager of Dominion Water and Sanitation.

The $5 million project will provide storage for drinking water to the customers of Dominion Water and fire-flow capacity for the Highway 85 corridor. About half of the capacity will go to emergency services, which can be shared in the region, according to a release from the water district.

The tank, which will hold as much water as three Olympic-size swimming pools, will be 30 feet tall and buried in an area between Roxborough Park and Louviers…

“The interest in developing in this area is now possible,” Provaznik said. “Nobody knew how they could develop because there was no way to get renewable water. Now there’s a choice.”

Dominion Water, a special district serving a 33,000 acre area in northwest Douglas County, was formed in 2004 and includes Sterling Ranch, Roxborough and Sedalia.

Construction on the High Zone Water Storage project began in April and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, she said.

Dominion Water & Sanitation District engages partners to build renewable supply portfolio

WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

From Colorado Politics (Mary Kay Provaznik):

Dominion, a wholesale district, has the vision to develop a renewable water and centralized wastewater system for northwest Douglas County. Dominion’s system provides options where none have existed before.

To create a water system that is built to last, we leveraged location, infrastructure and partnerships to create a regionally integrated network. As we grow, our values remain the same: dependability, water quality, environmental stewardship and innovation.

Dominion began this journey by partnering with other water providers to leverage regional assets to most economically and efficiently serve our customers. We continually engage our regional partners and prioritize cooperation within the water and wastewater community.

Currently, we have agreements with South Metro WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficient Partnership), Aurora and Castle Rock for renewable water. These agreements, along with Dominion’s other water supplies, give us the flexibility to provide water to Sterling Ranch and potentially new customers within our 33,000-acre service area.

Dominion will continue to grow and strengthen its portfolio. In addition to our water supply agreements with regional partners, in 2019, Dominion’s board approved the purchase of 500 acre-feet of storage in the Chatfield Reallocation Project from the state of Colorado. With this storage, shared with nine other water providers, Dominion will expand its ability to efficiently utilize its renewable water.

In 2020 Dominion’s long-term investments will connect northwest Douglas County to the largest water providers in Colorado. At the heart of Dominion’s system is the new Eastern Regional Pipeline that will bring 1,325 acre-feet of renewable WISE water to our region and add to Dominion’s already robust and reliable water supply portfolio.

This pipeline is the key to bringing renewable water to northwest Douglas County, giving those on unsustainable groundwater an exciting opportunity. The pipeline will not only carry the WISE supply but also future supplies to serve prospective customers and firefighting capabilities for much of the region. The new pipeline is nearly complete and is expected to connect this summer, completing a loop the south metro water providers have been working toward for over a decade.

Sterling Ranch

Dominion also continues to stay in the forefront of innovative solutions to support and develop water technology, sustainability and management. We are developing rainwater harvesting through the only state-approved pilot project. In late 2019, thanks to a long-running relationship between Vanderbilt University and Sterling Ranch, Dominion, Aurora and South Metro partners are working with Vanderbilt on water-treatment technologies that would address water quality challenges faced broadly by Colorado and nationwide.

The WISE Partnership recently brought home a “Community Water Champion Award” from WateReuse @DenverWater @AuroraWaterCO

WISE Project map via Denver Water

From Yourhub.Denverpost.com (Todd Hartman):

An innovative water-sharing partnership between Denver Water, Aurora Water and water utilities that serve the south metro area has won national recognition.

The WISE Partnership, WISE being short for Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency, recently brought home a “Community Water Champion Award” from WateReuse, a national organization that advances the use of recycled water.

The award marks another sign of success for a project that showcases sustainability on multiple fronts.

WISE not only provides a way for Denver and Aurora to reuse water supplies, it also creates a dependable supply for 10 water providers that serve the south metro region.

That more dependable supply, in turn, reduces pressure to pull more water from the Colorado River, conserves dwindling groundwater supplies south of Denver and diminishes the need for metro area utilities to buy agricultural water in the South Platte River Basin, which can lead to drying up farmland if the water is diverted…

The unusual nature of the WISE project may have helped it capture the national award.

Awards typically recognize a specific facility, such as a water recycling plant, or a technology. WISE includes such features, but also leverages the power of a regionwide partnership to make it all work.

WateReuse described the award this way: “This innovative regional partnership for a sustainable water future will reduce groundwater reliance and bolster renewable water supplies to the South Metro area, while maximizing existing water assets belonging to Aurora and Denver Water.”

WISE works by pulling water that Denver and Aurora have a legal right to reuse from the South Platte River near Brighton. That water is then pumped via pipeline back upstream to Aurora for a series of treatment steps before distribution to project partners…

Simply put, the project’s benefits accrue this way:

  • Denver Water develops a new water supply by being able to use Aurora’s Prairie Waters system and a new revenue stream by selling unused water to the south metro area water providers.
  • Aurora Water benefits by selling unused water and putting unused treatment and pipeline capacity to use while receiving revenue that helps keep its water rates down.
  • The South Metro Water Supply Authority receives a permanent renewable water supply, helping to reduce its reliance on nonrenewable groundwater.
  • 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.

    Castle Rock: A look back at 2017

    WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

    Here’s a look back at 2017 in Castle Rock. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    What was Castle Rock’s biggest accomplishment in 2017?

    [Mayor Jennifer Green:] 2017 was full of a number of accomplishments in Castle Rock. The reopening of Festival Park in downtown ranks as a wonderful achievement and provides a great place for the community to gather for years to come. The town adopted a new comprehensive plan, a new transportation master plan and new water enterprise master plans — all of these plans seek to ensure a vibrant future for our town.

    What opportunity for the town are you most looking forward to in 2018?

    [Mayor Jennifer Green:] The successful completion of the WISE project in 2018 will provide a new source of renewable drinking water for Castle Rock from our water partnerships in the metro area. We anticipate the start of construction for the initial phase of the Collaboration Campus in 2018 — this innovative effort with Arapahoe Community College, Colorado State University and Douglas County School District will bring a greater variety of higher education opportunities to Castle Rock. We also have transportation improvements coming along Founders Parkway, at Allen Way and Crowfoot Valley Road, and at Wolfensberger and Coachline roads.

    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.

    #Colorado Springs: Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, April 26-27

    Here’s the release from the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum (Jean Van-Peldt):

    Denver Water lawyer to share message of cooperation

    Water agreements are always tricky, a matter of give and take.

    Most importantly, they require cooperation.

    That’s the message Patricia Wells, general counsel for Denver Water, will bring to the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum when she kicks off the second day of the forum on April 27 at Hotel Elegante, 2886 S. Circle Drive, Colorado Springs. The two-day forum will feature panels and tours to discuss water issues of concern to the Arkansas River basin, and El Paso County in particular.

    “We’ll be talking about examples of how, when you’re dealing with the supply gap, you need to deal with others,” said Wells, who is also a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “Multiple parties can accomplish more.”

    Wells has represented Denver Water since 1991, coming on board just after the EPA veto of Two Forks. It changed how the state’s largest water provider dealt with the growth of its system, as well as the way it treated its neighbors. Wells came superbly prepared for the job, with her background as Denver City Attorney and as a staff attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund.

    “The Two Forks veto came as a result of the environmental laws in the 1970s and ‘80s and was a paradigm shift,” Wells said. “Most large water organizations have gone through a metamorphosis in the last 30 years.”

    In the case of Denver Water, that has meant two of the most far-reaching agreements in the history of Colorado Water, both occurring during Wells’ tenure at the legal helm. They were very different types of negotiations.

    The first was the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, which brought together 40 parties, primarily on the Western Slope, which had fought for decades over Denver’s appropriation of Colorado River water. Denver sought the support, or at least lack of opposition, from the communities in order to enlarge Gross Reservoir, a key supply for Denver Water located in Boulder County.

    “We did all the right things,” Wells said. “But we’re still in the 13th year of permitting on Gross Reservoir. If we can’t get Gross Reservoir done then water projects can’t be done in Colorado.”

    The second was the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency), which looked at how Denver, Aurora and water providers in the South Metro Water Supply Authority could pool resources.

    They were far different negotiations, but the common thread was the need to work together for common interests and to overcome operational hurdles.

    “The state Water Plan talks about CRCA and WISE as how projects should be developed,” Wells said. “But I don’t think there’s a single way to do things.”

    The Upper Arkansas River Voluntary Flow Management Program, which will be discussed in one of the workshops at the forum, is an example of multiple parties working together in the Arkansas River basin. That program has been in effect since 1991.

    “These agreements take a lot of time to put together and a long time to get organized,” Wells said. “It’s about how you work with other people and why you work with other people.”

    Registrations and information about this year’s forum are available at http://www.ARBWF.org.

    Arkansas River Basin — Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

    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.”

    WISE water project honored — Castle Rock News-Press

    WISE Project map via Denver Water
    WISE Project map via Denver Water

    From the South Metro Water Supply Authority via The Castle Rock News-Press:

    The South Metro [Water Supply] Authority received a 2016 Metro Vision Award from the Denver Regional Council of Governments for the WISE Partnership.

    The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership (WISE) is a regional water supply project between Aurora Water, Denver Water and members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. First conceived in 2008, the partnership combines water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply for the region.

    The WISE Partnership will benefit roughly 2 million people and it will bring a sustainable water supply to south metro communities. When water deliveries begin in early 2017, some of Colorado’s fastest-growing communities will be able to partially replace non-renewable groundwater.

    DRCOG’s Metro Vision awards are presented to individuals and programs who contribute outstanding efforts to the Denver region and its communities, and to DRCOG’s programs and activities. The regional council has been honoring outstanding achievements for more than 30 years.

    Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meeting recap

    Basin roundtable boundaries
    Basin roundtable boundaries

    From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

    Some folks were a bit wary of a request this week from a Denver metro group for financial assistance with a water project that local water leaders were concerned might facilitate water exportation from the San Luis Valley to the Front Range.

    Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, asked members of the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable water group this week for $10,000 from the roundtable’s basinallocated funds for the WISE (Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) Project.

    Hecox made his initial presentation this week and will return next month with the formal funding request. He told local roundtable members he had already visited the other eight basin roundtable groups throughout the state and they had been supportive of putting $10,000 each into this project in an effort to show cross-basin cooperation and support for local projects.

    Hecox said the basin support would help leverage money from other sources and serve as a cash match. He said while most of the basin roundtables committed to $10,000 each, the metro basin committed $40,000 and the South Platte roundtable $15,000 towards the WISE project.

    Hecox explained that the South Metro Water Supply Authority is made up of 13 independent water providers that serve areas like Highlands Ranch, Parker and Castle Rock.

    What brought these groups together, Hecox explained, was their common issue of having non-tributary nonrenewable groundwater as their water supply. The group has been working together towards a better water source solution since the 1960’s and 1970’s , Hecox said, and had participated in the Two Forks Project, a dam project that never materialized . “Two Forks going away didn’t change the need for storage,” he said. To roundtable member Charlie Spielman’s comment that Two Forks was being built one gravel pit at a time, Hecox said rather than one big bucket, there are lots of smaller buckets filling that same need, and there are a lot of gravel pits being used for water storage.

    “That’s not a component of our project,” he said. The authority has tried to reduce water use through significant conservation efforts , he added, and the per capita water use in their communities has decreased by 30 percent since the 2000’s .

    The latest idea prompting the WISE project is to partner with Denver and Aurora water providers, which do have renewable supplies, to reuse their municipal effluent , Hecox explained. The WISE project will encompass a treatment facility that will treat that water so it can be distributed to participating communities through existing pipelines. The authority purchased the pipeline for $34 million, Hecox said, which is being changed from its original use to be used for this project.

    The authority will pay Denver and Aurora $5.50 per thousand gallons to use their water supplies, pipe the water, treat it and distribute it to about two million people in the South Metro Water Supply Authority area.

    Groundwater and surface water will be comingled in the pipeline, Hecox explained . He said the funding being requested from roundtables as a local match will help build a treatment plant for the groundwater, which will cost about $6.4 million.

    The authority is combining $5.4 million in matching funds and will submit a grant request for $915,000, according to Hecox.

    Hecox said the Rio Grande Roundtable should support this project because it addresses the statewide gap between supply and demand and because it would support the new approach of regional partnerships to address water issues throughout the state.

    Hecox said that the communities in the South Metro authority have, much like many water users in the Rio Grande Basin (San Luis Valley), relied on groundwater resources, so they are trying to become mores sustainable, and the option of reusing Denver/Aurora effluent is one method of accomplishing that. The WISE project will allow area water resources to be reused multiple times, Hecox explained.

    The water that the authority will be buying from Denver and Aurora was previously going down the South Platte, Hecox said.

    “This will use water that was going downstream,” he said.

    He added that Aurora had a few short-term leases on its water previously, but this would be a permanent one.

    The authority is guaranteed supplies from Denver and Aurora until 2030, he said.

    Roundtable member Steve Vandiver, general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said this seemed to be opening up a new distribution system for the entire metro area that would make it easier to import water from other parts of the state, such as the Valley. He added that there is an export project currently proposed in the northern part of the San Luis Valley, and there have been continuous overtures over time from water speculators wishing to benefit from exporting water out of the Valley. It would seem that the WISE project would fit right into their plans, he said.

    Hecox admitted the WISE project would not meet all of the metro water needs in the future, and the authority is looking at other water sources such as a cooperative project with Denver and the West Slope as well as an alternative agriculture transfer program in the South Platte Basin.

    He said when the authority began the WISE project it was looking at a need for 60,000 acre feet of reusable supplies. With the WISE project, the authority is now looking in the 15,000-30 ,000-acre-foot range “above and beyond this,” he said.

    He said some of Aurora’s water supply is coming from the Arkansas Basin “but none from the San Luis Valley/Rio Grande Basin.”

    He said, “To my knowledge Aurora is not looking at any supplies in the Valley or the Rio Grande.”

    Vandiver said the likely plumbing for any export from the San Luis Valley would be through the Arkansas Basin.

    The plan we have seen would come out of here to the Arkansas,” Vandiver said. “This completes the pipeline from us to south metro ” The concern for us is that’s not necessarily a good thing for the Valley.”

    Hecox said when this project began, Denver water leaders were concerned their water would be used for additional growth in Douglas County, and there are areas that are zoned, platted and designated for development, but the houses have not yet been built. He added that developers in Douglas County had not yet approached the metro water authority or its members to use the WISE project water.

    He said the purpose of the WISE project would be to reuse existing water supplies for existing communities.

    The roundtable took no action on Hecox’s request this week but may do so next month.

    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.

    A shift to renewable water in south metro area — The Denver Post

    WISE Project map via Denver Water
    WISE Project map via Denver Water

    From The Denver Post (Eric Hecox and Diane Hoppe):

    After decades of drawing down nonrenewable groundwater aquifers, the region of 300,000 people spanning most of Douglas County and some of Arapahoe County is transitioning to sustainable supplies. This provides much-needed security to future generations hoping to call south Denver home.

    The latest success came last month when a first-of-its-kind partnership among the metro region’s three major water entities — Denver Water, Aurora Water and South Metro Water Supply Authority — received unprecedented statewide support.

    The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) project now stands alone as the only water project in Colorado to receive funding from basin roundtables across the state. The Colorado Water Conservation Board, the state of Colorado’s lead agency on water, also provided grant money in support of WISE.

    The reason for the broad support lies in the collaborative approach that has been the hallmark of South Metro Water’s plans. WISE is widely seen as a way for a growing part of the metro area to cooperatively help solve some of its own water supply issues…

    When WISE water deliveries begin in 2016, some of Colorado’s fastest-growing communities will receive a new sustainable water supply. Participating South Metro members include Highlands Ranch (served by Centennial Water), Cottonwood, Dominion, Inverness, Meridian, Parker, Pinery Water, Rangeview, Stonegate and Castle Rock.

    At the same time, Denver Water will receive a new back-up supply, and Aurora Water will receive funding to help offset costs of its Prairie Waters project.

    WISE is a significant part of South Metro’s plan for a sustainable water future. Combined with other infrastructure investments in supply, storage and reuse, and aggressive conservation efforts that have seen per capita use drop by 30 percent in the past decade, we are witnessing a seismic transition.

    In 2003, the Rocky Mountain News ran an explosive three-day series, “Running Dry,” on what many perceived as a looming water crisis in the south metro region. At the time, aquifers in some parts of the region were being drawn down at a rate of about 30 feet per year and the vast majority of the region’s water came from nonrenewable sources. A year later, local water providers joined together to create the South Metro Water Supply Authority and started creating the plan that is being executed now.

    Today, annual aquifer declines are one-sixth of what they used to be and continue to decrease. And while areas such as Highlands Ranch are already mostly renewable, the region as a whole is on track to receive the majority of its supplies from renewable sources by 2020.

    That’s remarkable headway in a short period of time given the complexities of water planning.

    The region still has more work ahead. But given the progress to date and with continuing support for South Metro Water’s plans and projects, we can feel confident in predicting that the days of alarming headlines around the south metro region’s water future are in the past.

    Eric Hecox is the director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Diane Hoppe is a former state representative and current chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

    WISE: Project will impact metro area’s water supply — 7News

    Click on a thumbnail below for the WISE system map and Prairie Waters map.

    #WISE Water Project Receives Unprecedented Statewide Support — South Metro Water Supply Authority

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

    Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority (Russ Rizzo):

    The WISE water project today received unprecedented statewide support, becoming the first water infrastructure project in Colorado to receive funding from Basin Roundtables across the state.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved $905,000 in state and regional grant funding for the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project, including funds from seven of the state’s nine Basin Roundtables.

    “We are excited and grateful for the broad, statewide support for this important project,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents 13 water providers comprising most of Douglas County and a portion of Arapahoe County. “This is a significant part of our region’s plan to transition to a more secure and sustainable water supply, and benefits of WISE extend throughout the region and to the West Slope.”

    WISE is a partnership among Aurora Water, Denver Water and South Metro Water to combine available water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply. Aurora and Denver will provide fully treated water to South Metro Water on a permanent basis. WISE also will enable Denver Water to access its supplies during periods when it needs to. All of this will be accomplished while allowing Aurora to continue to meet its customers’ current and future needs.

    “This project is reflective of the regional and statewide collaboration the State Water Plan calls for to meet the future water needs of Coloradans,” said former State Representative Diane Hoppe, chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “The broad financial support from Basin Roundtables across the state reflects the cooperation and smart approach that the Denver metro area’s leading water providers have taken.”

    The Basin Roundtables, created in 2005 with the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, represent each of the state’s eight major river basins and the Denver metropolitan area. The grants are part of the state’s Water Supply Reserve Accounts program that assists Colorado water users in addressing their critical water supply issues and interests.

    Roundtables that have committed funds to WISE so far include:

    Metro Basin Roundtable
    South Platte Basin Roundtable
    North Platte Basin Roundtable
    Colorado Basin Roundtable
    Arkansas Basin Roundtable
    Gunnison Basin Roundtable
    Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

    “The Colorado Basin applauds the WISE participants for their forward thinking and collaborative approach,” said Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which includes Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs. “WISE benefits not just the Front Range but the West Slope as well. The project enables the metro region to re-use its trans-mountain supplies, thereby reducing the need to look to other regions for water supply. In addition, the WISE agreement is an integral part of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement under which the West Slope receives funding to help meet our water project and environmental needs.”

    Construction on the WISE project began in June and will continue into 2016. When WISE begins delivering water in 2016:

    ●The South Denver Metro area will receive a significant new renewable water supply;
    ●Denver will receive a new backup water supply;
    ●Aurora will receive funding from partners to help offset its Prairie Waters Project costs and stabilize water rates; and
    ●The West Slope will receive new funding, managed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District, for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.

    Securing a Sustainable Water Supply for South Metro Denver

    South Metro Water and its 13 water provider members are executing a plan to transition to renewable supplies. The plan focuses on three areas: conservation and efficiency; infrastructure investment; and partnership among local and regional water suppliers.

    The region has made tremendous progress over the past decade, reducing per capita water use by more than 30 percent and adding new renewable water supplies and storage capacity that have significantly decreased reliance on nonrenewable groundwater.

    For details on the WISE project as well as South Metro Water’s plan to transition to renewable water supplies, visit http://www.southmetrowater.org.

    #WISE: Water project the right mix — The Pueblo Chieftain

    WISE Project map via Denver Water
    WISE Project map via Denver Water

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A $6.4 million project to blend water in a 21.5-mile pipeline in the South Metro area won state approval this week.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved a $905,000 grant toward the project which connects Aurora’s $800 million Prairie Waters Project with a $120 million pipeline that serves 14 water providers who are members of the South Metro Water Authority.

    The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, which includes Denver Water, Aurora and South Metro members, says the new connection paves the way for recovering up to 10,000 acre-feet (325.8 million gallons) of water annually. The project does this by providing Prairie Waters flows balance water quality from Denver Aquifer wells and other sources.

    Prairie Waters captures sewered flows downstream and treats the water for reuse at a plant near Aurora reservoir. The East Cherry Creek Village pipeline can redistribute the water among other users.

    At a July meeting of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, South Metro Executive Director Eric Hecox claimed it would relieve pressure on taking water from farms, including those in the Arkansas River basin.

    Three conservancy districts which have agreements with Aurora — the Lower Arkansas, Upper Arkansas and Southeastern — were skeptical that Aurora might use the WISE arrangement to manipulate storage levels in order to trigger more withdrawals from the Arkansas River basin.

    Aurora provided assurances that would not happen, gaining approval from the roundtable in August.

    “What’s significant is that six other roundtables joined to fund this project,” said Alan Hamel, who represents the Arkansas River basin on the CWCB.

    Roundtables have funds in basin accounts, and contributed $105,000 to the grant, of which the Arkansas Basin chipped in $10,000. A statewide fund provided the remaining $800,000.

    prairiewaterstreatment
    Prairie Waters Project graphic via Aurora Water

    The Arkansas Basin Roundtable ponies up $10,000 for WISE project

    wise_SimpleFromDenverWater

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    It didn’t quite amount to paying northern cities to stay out of the Arkansas River basin…but it could help.

    The Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday agreed to chip in $10,000 to a multimillion-dollar project by the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, but only if Aurora promises not to use it to create an artificial trigger for more leases from the Arkansas River basin.

    The money is just a show of support for a $6.4 million component that would get the right mix of water into a pipeline that connects Aurora’s $800 million Prairie Waters Project with a $120 million pipeline south of Denver to meet the future needs of 14 water providers who are members of the South Metro Water Authority.

    Seven of the state’s nine roundtables, including the Colorado River basin, have contributed $85,000 to the project. Two roundtables are set to act on requests for $20,000 in the next two months, and another $800,000 is being sought from a state fund. WISE is ponying up $5.5 million.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board will be asked to approve the grants in September.

    WISE would deliver up to 10,000 acre-feet annually of reused water primarily brought into the South Platte River basin by Denver and Aurora. Its backbone would be nearly $1 billion in existing infrastructure.

    The $6.4 million would be for a treatment plant that would blend Prairie Waters and well water in the East Cherry Creek Village pipeline. That would relieve demand on Denver Aquifer groundwater and the need for cities to buy farm water — including Arkansas Valley water — said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro group.

    “In the big scheme of things, this is important because it meets a need in a big gap area,” Hecox said.

    The proposal caused unease for water conservancy districts which have agreements with Aurora, however.

    “The city of Aurora transfers water out of the Arkansas basin,” said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. “This project increases demand on Aurora’s supplies. I’m not OK with this unless there is some sort of amendment that says if (a storage shortfall) is triggered, they won’t come back into the basin.”

    Aurora signed agreements with the Upper Ark, Southeastern and Lower Ark districts over the past 12 years that limit new leases from the Arkansas Valley. There are numerous requirements of how Aurora uses and stores water that factor into a complex equation.

    The roundtable agreed that the benefits of reducing demand on the Denver Basin aquifer in northern El Paso County would help the Arkansas Valley. The WISE project would also slow, but not necessarily stop, future water raids in the Arkansas Valley.

    Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district, asked Hecox about South Metro’s 2006 master plan that included future Arkansas River projects as options. Hecox said a new master plan is being developed that does not contain those projects.

    “So you can come into the Arkansas basin?” Winner asked.

    “Legally, yes,” Hecox replied. “But we have no plans to.”

    In the end, the roundtable endorsed the $10,000 token support, but only on the condition that Aurora formally assures the three districts and the roundtable that WISE won’t be used as an excuse to take more Arkansas River water.

    More WISE project coverage here.

    Major Construction Set to Begin on WISE Water Project — South Metro Water Supply Authority

    WISE System Map September 11, 2014
    WISE System Map September 11, 2014

    From email from the South Metro Water Supply Authority (Russ Rizzo):

    Construction is set to begin on a regional water project that is a significant part of the South Denver Metro area’s plan to transition to a renewable water supply.

    Western Summit Constructors, Inc. has been contracted to oversee design and construction of major infrastructure for the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project. Construction will begin in Juneand continue into 2016, when water deliveries will begin.

    WISE is a partnership among Aurora Water, Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority to combine available water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply. Aurora and Denver will provide fully treated water to South Metro Water on a permanent basis. WISE also will enable Denver Water to access its supplies during periods when it needs to. All of this will be accomplished while allowing Aurora to continue to meet its customers’ current and future needs.

    “This is a significant milestone in our long-term plan to transition to a renewable water supply,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water, which represents 14 water providers comprising most of Douglas County and a portion of Arapahoe County. “With construction agreements now in place, we will break ground in coming weeks to begin connecting water systems throughout the Denver Metro area.”

    Aurora’s Prairie Waters system will provide the backbone for delivering water from the South Platte when Aurora and Denver Water have available water supplies and capacity. The water will be distributed to the South Metro Denver communities through an existing pipeline shared with Denver and East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District and new infrastructure that will be constructed over the next 16 months.

    “By working together, the three major water entities serving the Denver Metro area have put the southern communities of Denver on a more secure and sustainable path while delivering benefits to the entire region as well as West Slope communities,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “The approach is a model for us to replicate as Colorado’s Water Plan is implemented.”

    When WISE begins delivering water in 2016:

    ●The South Denver Metro area will receive a significant new renewable water supply;

    ●Denver will receive a new backup water supply;

    ●Aurora will receive funding from partners to help offset its Prairie Waters Project costs and stabilize water rates; and

    ●The West Slope will receive new funding, managed by the River District, for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.

    South Metro Water and its 14 water provider members are executing a plan to transition to renewable supplies. The plan focuses on three areas: investments in infrastructure; partnership among local and regional water suppliers; and maximizing efficiency of existing resources through conservation and reuse.

    The South Metro region has made tremendous progress over the past 10 years, reducing per capita water use by more than 30 percent and adding new renewable water supplies and storage capacity that have significantly decreased reliance on nonrenewable groundwater.

    For details on the WISE project as well as South Metro Water’s plan to transition to renewable water supplies, visit http://www.southmetrowater.org/smwsa-projects/.

    More WISE Project coverage here.

    WISE Project set to turn dirt in June

    WISE System Map September 11, 2014
    WISE System Map September 11, 2014

    From the Parker Chronicle (Mike DiFerdinando):

    Western Summit Constructors Inc. has been contracted to oversee design and construction of major infrastructure for the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project. Construction will begin in June and continue into 2016, when water deliveries will begin.

    “This is a significant milestone in our long-term plan to transition to a renewable water supply,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “With construction agreements now in place, we will break ground in coming weeks to begin connecting water systems throughout the Denver metro area.”[…]

    The group tasked with utilizing this water is the South Metro WISE Authority. The primary purpose of the authority is to reduce members’ dependence on nonrenewable Denver Basin wells and provide a reliable, long-term water supply for residents.

    The WISE members are funding the new infrastructure that will move the water from Aurora’s Binney Water Purification Facility to its end locations, beginning in 2016. Water purchased by Douglas County entities, as well as by some of the other providers, will be stored at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir south of Parker.

    prairiewaterstreatment
    Prairie Waters Project schematic via Aurora Water

     

    Aurora’s Prairie Waters system will provide the backbone for delivering water from the South Platte when Aurora and Denver Water have available water supplies and capacity.

    The water will be distributed to the south metro communities through an existing pipeline shared with Denver and East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District, plus new infrastructure that will be constructed over the next 16 months.

    More WISE Project coverage here.

    Colorado’s Water Plan and WISE water infrastructure — The Denver Post

    WISE System Map September 11, 2014
    WISE System Map September 11, 2014

    From The Denver Post (James Eklund/Eric Hecox):

    The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) project is a partnership among Aurora Water, Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority to combine available water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply. Aurora and Denver will provide fully treated water to South Metro Water on a permanent basis. WISE also will enable Denver Water to access its supplies during periods when it needs to.

    All of this will be accomplished while allowing Aurora to continue to meet its customers’ current and future needs.

    Aurora’s Prairie Waters system will provide the backbone for delivering water from the South Platte when Aurora and Denver Water have available water supplies and capacity. The water will be distributed to the South Metro Denver communities through an existing pipeline shared with Denver and East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District, and new infrastructure that will be constructed over the next 16 months…

    WISE is a key element to this plan. With construction agreements in place, we will break ground in coming weeks to begin connecting water systems throughout the Denver Metro area. When WISE begins delivering water in 2016:

    • The South Denver Metro area will receive a significant new renewable water supply;

    • Denver will receive a new backup water supply;

    • Aurora will receive funding from partners to help offset its Prairie Waters Project costs and stabilize water rates; and

    • The Western Slope will receive new funding, managed by the River District, for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.

    More WISE Project coverage here.

    WISE One Step Closer to Delivering Water

    WISE System Map September 11, 2014
    WISE System Map September 11, 2014

    Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Denver Water, and the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District (Russ Rizzo/Stacy Chesney/Andy Cohen):

    WISE One Step Closer to Delivering Water

  • Purchase of East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District pipeline by South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water finalized
  • Water delivery to begin in 2016 following additional infrastructure build-out
  • Partnership represents new era in regional cooperation and water efficiency
  • The southern suburbs of Denver took a significant step forward in shifting to a water system that makes use of renewable water supply on Oct. 21 when members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water purchased the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District’s Western Waterline. The pipeline purchase is a significant milestone in WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency), a partnership between 10 of the South Metro members, Denver Water and Aurora Water to share water supply and infrastructure.

    Using Aurora’s Prairie Waters system, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide water through the Western pipeline to participating South Metro members on a permanent basis. WISE will also provide a new emergency supply for Denver Water, and offset costs and stabilize water rates for Aurora.

    “The purchase of ECCV’s pipeline makes WISE and the sharing of water supplies possible,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “This is a significant milestone for the WISE Partnership and moves communities throughout the South Metro area one step closer to a secure and sustainable water future,” he said.

    The 20-mile east-west pipeline along E-470 and C-470 has capacity to deliver 38 million gallons of water a day to Douglas and Arapahoe counties.

    “Our sale of this pipeline is mutually beneficial for all the parties involved,” said O. Karl Kasch, president of the ECCV board. “Under the purchase and sale agreement, ECCV will still have the capacity we need in the pipeline, while also supporting a regional solution to one of the most important water challenges facing the Denver metro region. We have always viewed the Western Waterline as an infrastructure asset from which the entire South Metro community can benefit, and that’s what will be accomplished.”

    Under the agreement, Denver Water and Aurora Water will sell an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to South-Metro water suppliers beginning in 2016 with the option to increase to 10,000 acre-feet in future years.

    “We’re thrilled to be moving forward with the WISE Partnership,” said Dave Little, director of planning for Denver Water. “This agreement will create more system flexibility and increase the reliability of our water supply system, leading to a more secure water future for communities throughout the region.”

    WISE water is expected to begin flowing through the ECCV pipeline in 2016, once the remaining infrastructure, such as system interconnects, are complete.

    For additional details on the WISE project and updates, visit http://www.southmetrowater.org/storage-WISE.html.

    More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post:

    Denver and south metro suburbs have taken a $34 million step toward water-sharing to wean the suburbs off dwindling underground aquifers.

    The South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water announced Wednesday they bought a 20-mile pipeline — built for $44 million in 2004 by the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District — to carry excess Denver and Aurora water to 10 suburbs including Castle Rock, Centennial and Parker.

    This east-west pipeline is seen as the spine of a new distribution system to move an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to suburbs that, in some cases, remain totally dependent on the finite Denver Basin aquifer.

    “This allows them to change the way they are using the aquifer,” said Eric Hecox, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents the suburbs. “It won’t get them off the aquifer completely. It will allow them to use it as a backup supply.”

    Denver Basin aquifer system
    Denver Basin aquifer system

    Colorado has let developers tap aquifers to serve multiplying new homes, but pumping the underground water is becoming more difficult and costly with water tables falling in some areas by 1 to 3 feet a year.

    About two dozen utilities between Denver and Colorado Springs together pump more than 30,000 acre-feet of water a year from about 440 municipal wells, according to water suppliers.

    This Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project, if it works as envisioned, would take advantage of water already used by Denver and Aurora, cleaning it fully in Aurora’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant.

    More pipeline connections must be built, but buying the ECCV pipeline is a major step, Hecox said.

    South Metro paid 85 percent of the $34 million. Denver Water paid $4.7 million.

    The pipeline runs under the 470 beltway and can carry up to 38 million gallons a day. ECCV can keep moving up to 8 million gallons a day to its southeast metro customers.

    “Without that pipeline, we cannot deliver the water,” Aurora Water spokesman Greg Baker said. “Now we can start moving forward toward delivering water.”

    From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

    Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents more than a dozen water utilities in the southern edges of the metro area, on Oct. 21 agreed to pay $34 million to buy the pipeline from the East Cherry Creek Valley district. The South Metro water districts is an 85 percent owner of the pipeline and Denver Water paid $4,725,000 for its 15 percent ownership, Bennett said.

    “We found a way between Denver, the South Metro districts and East Cherry Creek to share the capacity of the pipeline, so it will now be used to deliver water to the south metro entities,” said Dave Bennett, a water resource project manager with Denver Water.

    Denver Water, which serves more than 1 million customers in Denver and some surrounding suburbs, also will be able to use the pipeline to capture water and reuse it in its systems, Bennett said.

    “Instead of going out and building a new, duplicate pipeline, we found a way to share that existing infrastructure,” Bennett said.

    The pipeline is crucial to the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) partnership, which includes 10 southern water districts, Denver Water and Aurora Water. Under the WISE agreements, treated water that’s been used once by Denver and Aurora and added to the South Platte River will be recaptured at a spot along the river north of Denver. Then, via Aurora’s 34-mile Prairie Water pipeline, the water will be shipped back to the Peter D. Binney Water Purification Facility near the Aurora Reservoir. After it’s treated at the plant, the Western Waterline pipeline will be crucial for moving the treated water to the southern suburbs.

    “The purchase of ECCV’s pipeline makes WISE and the sharing of water supplies possible,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “This is a significant milestone for the WISE Partnership and moves communities throughout the South Metro area one step closer to a secure and sustainable water future.”

    Under the WISE agreement, Denver Water and Aurora Water will sell an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to south-metro water suppliers beginning in 2016 with the option to increase to 10,000 acre-feet in future years. One acre-foot of water equals 325,851 gallons, enough to support 2½ families of four for a year.

    Karl Kasch, president of the East Cherry Creek Valley board of directors, said the sale of the district’s pipeline was beneficial for all parties. The district retained ownership of 8 million gallons per day worth of capacity on the pipeline, which can carry 38 million gallons of water per day.

    “Under the purchase and sale agreement, ECCV [the district] will still have the capacity we need in the pipeline, while also supporting a regional solution to one of the most important water challenges facing the Denver metro region,” Kasch said.

    “We have always viewed the Western Waterline as an infrastructure asset from which the entire South Metro community can benefit, and that’s what will be accomplished,” he said.

    More work needs to be done to connect the pipeline to Aurora’s water treatment plant, connect it to Denver Water’s system, and connect the southern water districts to the pipeline, but that’s expected to be done in the next few years, Bennett said.

    More WISE Project coverage here.

    Douglas County joins WISE project

    douglascounty

    From the Parker Chronicle (Mike DiFerdinando):

    The Douglas County commissioners took an important step in helping secure the county’s water future at their regular meeting on Aug. 26.

    By joining in on the South Metro Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) Authority’s agreement with Denver Water and Aurora Water, the county will be the recipient of 2,775 acre-feet of water per year for a 10-year period, starting in 2016…

    The South Metro WISE Authority is made up of 10 water providers that are all part of the larger South Metro Water Supply Authority. Nine of those water providers — Centennial, Cottonwood, Dominion, Inverness, Meridian, Parker, Pinery, Stonegate Village and Castle Rock — are located in Douglas County. The 10th, Rangeview Metropolitan District, is located in Aurora.

    “This region has been working hard for a very long time to bring renewable water supplies into the area,” SMWSA Executive Director Eric Hecox said. “We have a legacy of developing non-renewable groundwater and the effort for many years has been to transition our current population off of groundwater as well as to provide water for future economic development, and I think this project achieves that.”

    The WISE project began in 2008 as a way for members to identify processes, cost, distribution, timing, storage and legal issues relating to distributing treated reusable water return flows from Denver and Aurora for use by SMWSA water users.

    The group tasked with utilizing this water is the South Metro WISE Authority. The primary purpose of the authority is to reduce members’ dependence on non-renewable Denver Basin wells and provide reliable long-term water supply for residents.

    “While we often refer to the Denver Basin aquifers in a negative way, they do provide an extremely important drought reserve,” Douglas County Water Resource Planner Tim Murrell said. “By reducing Denver Basin well pumping to a secondary source rather than a sole supply, the basin can continue to be a valuable asset in times of drought.”

    In 2013, Aurora, Denver and the South Metro WISE Authority finalized the water delivery agreement. As part of the deal, 100,000 acre-feet of water will go to the authority’s providers over a 10-year period.

    At the time of the agreement, the authority members were only able to agree on 7,225 acre-feet per year. This left 2,775 acre-feet per year that would be lost if not claimed. Douglas County has been working with the authority members over the last year to reserve the 2,775 acre-feet per year supply for the county.

    The WISE members are funding new infrastructure that will move the water from Aurora’s Binney Water Purification Facility to its end locations, beginning in 2016. Water purchased by the county, as well as by some of the other providers, will be stored at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir south of Parker.

    The county will pay a $97,125 annual reservation fee through 2020; 2,000 acre-feet of water per year will be available for use and purchase by WISE members, and 775 acre-feet will be available for use and purchase by non-members.

    More WISE project coverage here.

    Highlands Ranch water rates to go up in 2014

    Highlands Ranch
    Highlands Ranch

    From the Highlands Ranch News (Ryan Boldrey):

    Following spikes of 2 percent in 2012 and 3.8 percent in 2013, Highlands Ranch residents are expected to see rates go up 6.8 percent this coming year. This year’s proposed increase is due to the district’s involvement with both the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership (WISE) and Chatfield Reallocation Project, said Bruce Lesback, CWSD director of finance and administration…

    “We held off as long as we could before increasing rates to this level for our customers, but it appears both projects are now going forward,” Lesback said.

    For CWSD, the two projects are a major step toward cementing a long-term water supply and not relying as much on groundwater or leased water.

    “We’ve got many years of full supply, but some of that full supply comes from leases that are not long-term,” CWSD General Manager John Hendrick told Colorado Community Media earlier this year. “We want to add to our portfolio with long-term or near-permanent surface water sources.

    “We’ve got ample groundwater for droughts, but in wet years we’ll now be able to take in more than we need to and top off our reservoirs with surface water.”[…]

    A public hearing was held Nov. 25 on the proposed CWSD budget. The board of directors will vote to adopt the 2014 budget at its Dec. 16 meeting.

    More infrastructure coverage here.

    The South Metro Water Supply Authority scores a $688,000 grant for designing connections to WISE

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

    From the Parker Chronicle:

    The South Metro Water Supply Authority has received a $688,000 grant and conditional approval for an additional $882,000 grant from the State’s Water Supply Reserve Account to help offset the cost of designing pipeline connections required to deliver water bought through the WISE Partnership with authority members.

    The WISE Partnership is a regional water supply project between Aurora Water, Denver Water and SMWSA that combines available water supplies and systems capacity, creating a sustainable water supply. Through WISE, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide an average of 7,225 acre-feet per year of treated water to SMWSA for distribution to participating members. SMWSA is designing and constructing a system of pipelines, pump stations and turnouts to distribute water to participating members.

    The grant was approved by the Metro Roundtable at its meeting in June and funded through the WSRA Program at the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s meeting in Telluride. The conservation board is also looking at providing financing to individual SMWSA members that have construction requirements related to WISE. The CWCB is evaluating financing of up to $44 million in loans for the WISE Partnership.

    More WISE partnership coverage here.

    Reuse: The WISE Partnership gets approval from the Denver Water Board

    prairiewaterstreatment.jpg

    From the Denver Business Journal:

    Denver Water last week approved the WISE partnership agreement that clears the way for the utility to delivery treated water to the area’s southern suburbs.

    Approval of WISE, which stands for Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency, formalizes the regional cooperative water project. The agreement calls for the permanent delivery of 72,250 acre-feet of treated water from Denver and Aurora to members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA).

    SMWSA was formed in 2004 from the banding together of smaller water utilities in south Denver.
    With the agreement now in place, some of the water that currently flows down the South Platte River and out of the state would be recaptured by Aurora’s 34-mile Prairie Waters Pipeline and pumped back to the Peter D. Binney Water Purification Facility near the Aurora Reservoir. There, the water would be treated and piped to the southern suburbs.

    The water delivery will begin in 2016. Members of the SMWSA must have infrastructure in place to move the water from the purification facility. The cost of the water and infrastructure for its delivery is estimated at $250 million over the next 10 years. Each member will independently determine how to finance their share of the project.

    The participating members of SMWSA are the town of Castle Rock, Dominion Water & Sanitation District, Stonegate Village Metropolitan District, Cottonwood Water & Sanitation District, Pinery Water and Wastewater District, Centennial Water & Sanitation District, Rangeview Metropolitan District, Parker Water & Sanitation District, Meridian Metropolitan District and Inverness Water & Sanitation District.

    More WISE Partnership coverage here.

    Parker signs on to the WISE project for future supplies

    parkerrhodeislandhotel1908bestofparker.jpg

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Parker Water joins nine other members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority that have signed on to WISE, or the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement. The June 13 approval by the PWSD board of directors adds another source of water for the area’s long-term needs, said district manager Ron Redd.

    Parker Water pulls much of its water supply from the Denver Basin Aquifer, but it also captures an average of 5,000 acre-feet annually off Cherry Creek. The WISE agreement will have Parker piping 12,000 acre-feet of recycled water from Aurora and Denver every 10 years for an indefinite period of time.

    Water rates will likely go up 1 percent to 2 percent incrementally because of WISE, although any increases will not occur until a thorough rate analysis is conducted, Redd said. The results of the analysis will be released in mid-2014.

    The PWSD will start receiving the first trickles of water in 2016 and get full delivery of 1,200 acre-feet starting in 2021. The district hopes to use an existing pipeline along the E-470 corridor to transport the water and is in the process of negotiating with the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District. If an agreement is not reached, the district would have to build its own infrastructure at a steep cost…

    The supply coming from Denver and Aurora is water that has been used and treated. The district will again reclaim the water, meaning the average of 1,200 acre-feet coming in each year will actually measure close to 2,400 acre-feet, Redd said, adding there is a possibility that Parker Water might purchase more WISE water in the future…

    Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which the PWSD built for storage, contains around 6,000 acre-feet. By the time the new water treatment plant off Hess Road opens in 2015, the reservoir will contain 15,000 to 20,000 acre-feet. It has the capacity for 72,000 acre-feet.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Parker Water and Sanitation District board is evaluating joining with Aurora and Denver in the WISE project

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District board of directors will hear a presentation later this month from new manager Ron Redd, who will recommend that the district enter into WISE, the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project. Six members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, including Pinery Water and Wastewater, the Cottonwood Water and Sanitation District and Stonegate Village Metropolitan District, committed to WISE by signing intergovernmental agreements in late March. The agreements will bring nearly 7,000 acre-feet of recycled water to the south metro area…

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District board asked Redd to examine the possibility of buying 500, 1,000 or 1,500 acre-feet through the WISE project. He was expecting to receive the results of a cost analysis on April 5 to determine the possible financial impacts. Any rate hikes on customers would likely be implemented incrementally and equate to about 2.5 percent to 3 percent per year, Redd said, cautioning that those figures are preliminary. The cost of WISE water increases annually over an eight-year period.

    It would be relatively easy, Redd said, to move the reclaimed WISE water from Aurora to Parker if the district can come to an agreement to use a pipeline along E-470 owned by East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District. If the board gives approval, the intergovernmental agreement would be signed by late May…

    Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which contains 5,700 acre-feet of water and was built to store 70,000 acre-feet, will be paid off by the time the Parker Water and Sanitation District takes on more debt to build pipelines to transport the water that will be needed for the future.

    Meanwhile, Centennial has inked an IGA with the WISE Partnership. Here’s a report from Ryan Boldrey writing for the Highlands Ranch Herald. Here’s an excerpt:

    Centennial Water and Sanitation District was one of six members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority to sign an IGA this past week committing to more renewable water by way of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership. Through the agreement, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide roughly 7,000 acre-feet of fully treated water annually to participating SMWSA members and deliver it in phases, starting in 2016. As part of the IGA, the participating South Metro WISE entities have agreed to fund new infrastructure that will move the water from Aurora’s Binney Water Purification Facility to its end locations. “A region-wide water solution makes more sense than having each water entity fending for themselves to source, treat and deliver renewable water to customers,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “We’re excited about the progress we’re making through WISE towards transitioning the region from nonrenewable groundwater to renewable water.”

    Hecox said that the agreement helps provide SMWSA with about a third of the necessary water that participating entities will need long-term. From here, work will continue on the Chatfield Reallocation Project as well as of other options and alternatives to bring more water to the region…

    For Centennial Water specifically, it’s another step toward cementing a long-term supply and not relying as much on groundwater or leased water. “We’ve got many years of full supply, but some of that full supply comes from leases that are not long-term,” said Centennial Water and Sanitation District General Manager John Hendrick. “We want to add to our portfolio with long-term or near-permanent surface water sources…

    Other SMWSA members committing to the project at this time are Cottonwood Water, Meridian Metropolitan District, Pinery Water, Rangeview Metropolitan District and Stonegate Village Metropolitan District. Hecox said he expects Dominion, Inverness, Castle Rock and Parker water districts to sign the IGA by the end of April. SMWSA members not expected to take part in the IGA include: Castle Pines Metro, Castle Pines North, East Cherry Creek Valley, and Arapahoe.

    More WISE coverage here.

    Castle Rock still wants WISE Partnership water but there are worries about rates

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    From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

    Castle Rock’s utilities department on Feb. 19 updated councilmembers on the Water and Supply Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement for the purchase of water from Denver and Aurora. The agreement is a partnership with 10 members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Castle Rock in January selected WISE as one of two solutions for its long-term water supply. WISE has been on the map since February 2008, when the WISE partnership signed an intergovernmental agreement with Denver Water and Aurora Water.

    Since the town began its analysis, rate increases from Denver and Aurora prompted Castle Rock to order another rates and fees feasibility study. The rate structure in the WISE agreement is one of the greater considerations, said Heather Beasley, water resources manager. Since 2011, the WISE delivery rate has increased about 20 cents per thousand gallons, Beasley said. Aurora also added a temporary surcharge between 17 and 51 cents per thousand gallons, Beasley reported. “It sounds small, but we could be talking (potentially) millions in increase for our residents,” said Mayor Paul Donahue. “We are concerned about being able to control that rate.”[…]

    Other factors impacting WISE are negotiations among Western Slope providers, who must sign off to allow Denver and Aurora to sell the water to the WISE partners; targeting the pipeline infrastructure to get the water from Aurora to the south metro service area; and meeting the terms of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit amendment requirements to store the water in Rueter-Hess.

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

    Castle Rock: The town council recently reviewed the long-term water plan

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    From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

    During one of their last meetings of 2012, councilmembers had their final public meeting with former utilities director Ron Redd, with word that Redd’s efforts of the last year could begin to take shape in 2013. Those efforts are designed to help Castle Rock wean itself from its underground water sources and, within the next 20 years, transition to a 75 percent renewable source. The proposed solutions include a series of 11 wells in Adams County’s Box Elder Farm, projected to provide up to 3,000 acre-feet of water, and the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency regional partnership, projected to provide up to 1,000 acre-feet of water for Castle Rock residents…

    The WISE agreement, which involves the participation of 11 water providers in an effort to purchase return flows from Denver and Aurora, remains in draft form as the partnership works out a number of issues, Redd said. Among the issues are agreeing on a reasonable solution to set long-term water rates; how to address impacts from climate changes; purchasing the pipelines to move the water from Aurora to Rueter-Hess reservoir; meeting the demands of the Army Corp of Engineers for permission to store the water in Rueter-Hess; and awaiting final approval from eight Western Slope entities to permit Denver and Aurora to sell the water to the WISE partners. Councilmembers can expect staff presentations within the first three to six months of 2013 for terms of the agreements necessary to secure a long-term water supply, Redd said…

    Next steps in Castle Rock’s water acquisition:

  • WISE water delivery agreement with Denver and Aurora.
  • WISE participation agreement among 11 South Metro water providers.
  • WISE transmission pipeline agreement.
  • Stillwater Resources brokerage agreement to represent Castle Rock in Box Elder Farms negotiations
  • Box Elder Farms purchase and sale agreement.
  • Various augmentation supply purchase term sheets or agreements.
  • More infrastructure coverage here.

    Sterling Ranch Rezoning and Water Appeal Revoked

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    From email from Jennifer Riefenberg and the Chatfield Community Association:

    On August 22, 2012, Douglas County District Court’s Judge Paul King, determined that Douglas County Commissioners abused their discretion in approving both the Sterling Ranch rezoning as well as its controversial water appeal, in May 2011, siding with the Plaintiffs, the Chatfield Community Association, et. al. In his determination, Judge King ruled that “The Board has no authority to approve the application without the Applicant demonstrating the adequacy of the water supply.” Judge King cited “In this case the applicant freely admits that it did not submit proof of an adequate water supply as part of its application.”

    Douglas County has a long-held reputation for approving development which is dependent on non-renewable ground water or other non-sustainable water supplies. The Board of County Commissioners continued this trend when they approved the Sterling Ranch development in May 2011. Yesterday’s decision by the District Court focused on a 2008 revision to state statutes (CRS 29-20) that require “a water supply that will be sufficient for build-out of the proposed development in terms of quality, quantity, dependability, and availability to provide a supply of water for the type of development proposed…” , as well as Douglas County Zoning Resolution.

    Water is a critical issue for the citizens and legislature of Colorado. However, Douglas County is currently proposing changes to their own zoning regulations that would make it even easier for development to occur without demonstrating a sustainable water supply. The impact of Judge King’s ruling should thwart this attempt to loosen these regulations..

    Chatfield Community Association (CCA) is comprised primarily of citizens living in the Chatfield Basin area. CCA is interested in responsible growth, including clear and reliable evidence that the developer can provide the necessary infrastructure, water and wastewater commitments, density-appropriate plans for protecting sensitive areas, including Chatfield State Park, and protecting the rural way of life in the Chatfield Basin

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

    The Sterling Ranch development signs up for WISE Project infrastructure and water supplies

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    From the Castle Rock News (Rhonda Moore):

    Sterling Ranch managing director Harold Smethills announced a deal with Aurora Water that will deliver 88 million gallons of water already owned by the development’s provider, Dominion Water. The deal paves the way for Sterling Ranch to begin the plat process with Douglas County as the development moves forward, Smethills said.

    At the same time, Sterling Ranch signed a second deal with Aurora Water in a 15-year lease for 186 million gallons of water as a sub-agreement of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement, said Greg Baker, manager of Aurora Water public relations…

    Sterling Ranch aims to begin its development process before year’s end and hopes to enter the market as quickly as possible, Smethills said. He hopes to debut Sterling Ranch, a planned development approved for more than 12,000 homes over its 20-year planned build-out, with as many as 2,000 homes in its early phases. “This gets us in the market years before we could have built our infrastructure because the demand is here now,” Smethills said.

    More Sterling Ranch coverage here.

    Brian Werner: ‘Tell me when the next big drought comes, and you’re going to see people screaming about storage’

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    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

    “Tell me when the next big drought comes, and you’re going to see people screaming about storage,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud. “Their willingness (to consider building new reservoirs) ebbs and flows based on when your last drought was.”

    The uncertainty about the mountain snowpack, which fluctuates every year, is the primary argument for building new reservoirs in the West, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “The amazing thing is, it comes down to three or four big storms every year, whether they get them, or they bypass us,” he said…

    One of five major proposed water storage projects in Larimer County that are in various stages of planning, [Northern Integrated Supply Project] calls for storing about 170,000 acre-feet of Poudre River water in the proposed Glade Reservoir north of Ted’s Place. A final decision could come sometime in 2013 or 2014…

    The other four proposed projects include expansions to Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s Seaman Reservoir, the Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Carter Lake and the more uncertain Cactus Hill Reservoir proposed for a site on the Weld County line between Wellington and Nunn. If those projects are built, Waskom said, it’s hard to conceive of other such large projects being built in Northern Colorado regardless of the need because there are few other places to build them, at least in Larimer County. “Unless we can get Aaron Million’s project or a West Slope diversion built, we don’t have any more water left,” he said…

    “All the easy projects have been built,” [Waskom] said. “Now we’re dealing with the hard projects. What comes after the projects, that’s the question, right? Where’s the water and reservoir sites, and where’s the political will to build projects?”

    More infrastructure coverage here.

    Mark Pifher (Aurora water): ‘We don’t plan to buy or lease any more water in Arkansas basin in the near future’

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Aurora’s water rights include nearly all of the Rocky Ford Ditch in Otero County, about one-third of the Colorado Canal in Crowley County and water from 1,750 acres of ranches in Lake County. Those rights provide an average yield of 22,800 acre-feet per year — the equivalent of 80 percent of the potable water used by Pueblo each year.

    – Aurora also uses the Homestake Project, Twin Lakes, Busk-Ivanhoe diversion and the Columbine Ditch to bring water from the Western Slope through the Arkansas River basin and into the South Platte basin. The average yield of those water rights is about 21,500 acre-feet annually.

    – The city can reuse its Arkansas and Colorado basin water imports, and has built the $650 million Prairie Waters Project to directly recapture flows, rather than exchange them.

    – Aurora’s South Platte water rights include wells, ranches, ditches and direct flow from the South Platte. They total about 46,000 acre-feet annually.

    – Aurora has an agreement to trade 5,000 acre-feet of water a year with Pueblo West from Lake Pueblo to Twin Lakes beginning next year. It will replace a similar agreement with the Pueblo Board of Water Works that expires this year.

    – The Pueblo water board sells Aurora 5,000 acre-feet of water each year.

    – Aurora has a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to store 10,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo and to move the same amount to Twin Lakes by paper trade.

    – The water is moved from Twin Lakes to Spinney Mountain Reservoir through the Homestake pipeline system…

    “We don’t have any current plans beyond what we’re already doing,” said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora water. “We don’t plan to buy or lease any more water in Arkansas basin in the near future.”

    Instead, the city will continue developing Prairie Waters, a reuse project that pumps sewer return flows through a filtration and purification system, only at about 20 percent capacity so far. Aurora calculates that its average yield from its Arkansas River basin water rights is about 22,800 acre-feet annually. That’s roughly one-fourth of its total yield from its entire system, which includes South Platte and Colorado River basin rights. From a practical standpoint, Aurora does not move all of its water out of the Arkansas River basin each year.

    More Aurora coverage here and here.

    The Castle Pines Metropolitan District nixes participation in the WISE project

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    From the Aurora Sentinel (Sara Castellanos):

    In a letter sent Oct. 12 from Paul Dannels, district manager of the Castle Pines Metropolitan District, to Rod Kuharich, executive director of the [South Metro Water Supply Augthority], Dannels said the board of directors decided not to proceed with the project. “Simply stated, the high cost of the Project and the uncertainty of water delivery do not make sense for the District at this time,” Dannels wrote in the letter. “We wish you great success with the Project which appears more feasible for larger users. They can deal better with both the uncertainty of water availability and the high Project costs than smaller users such as the District.”[…]

    Greg Baker, spokesman for Aurora Water said the project, dubbed the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, doesn’t require that all 15 entities of the SMWSA take deliveries for the project to be successful. Roxborough and the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District have already indicated that they had other resources they could develop and wouldn’t take water from the WISE partnership, Baker said. “Each member of the SMWSA must assess the value of participation in relation to their individual systems and needs,” Baker said. “SMWSA has indicated that the commitments from many of the other members have already met or exceeded the initial 10,000 acre-feet provided for by the proposed delivery agreement.”

    More Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership coverage here.

    The Castle Rock town council hears the pitch from the WISE partners touting the project as a long-term source to replace non-renewable groundwater

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Rhonda Moore):

    Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer made the opening remarks to introduce the team that presented the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency proposal, the last of four bids submitted to the town of Castle Rock. The WISE proposal is a partnership between the Denver and Aurora water departments and the South Metro Water Supply Authority, a co-op of 15 Douglas and Arapahoe county metro districts and municipalities. The authority, which includes the towns of Castle Rock and Parker, has been working since 2008 with Denver and Aurora to draft the WISE proposal, touted as a financial boon for Aurora Water and a first-of-its kind regional water partnership for the Front Range…

    The presentation was made before a joint meeting between the town’s utilities commission and Castle Rock town council, which will eventually make the decision on which provider reaps the benefits of an investment worth millions in the town’s long-term water future…

    If Castle Rock opts to go with WISE, it will be a permanent agreement and water will be delivered to a master meter. The authority’s cooperating agencies will be responsible for delivery of water from the master meter to their respective customers. The estimated cost to Castle Rock residents to complete that cycle is expected to be upwards of $200 million, said Ron Redd, Castle Rock utilities director and executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. The final estimate will be assessed when the town’s utilities department compares the bids on the table for council recommendation, he said, and it is possible the town could ask voters for a tax increase to finance the long-term water plan. The cost of water purchased in the WISE plan will vary from year to year, depending on rates determined by Denver and Aurora. Water rates will be based on a calculation that compares to that used to calculate cost to the providers’ existing customers, said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora Water…

    “Both Denver and Aurora are longtime commitments. We’ll be here a long time,” Pifher said. “You’ll know where to find us 50 years from now if you have a problem under the contract. When you look at WISE, it’s the quintessential conservation project, it maximizes the efficient use of resources we already have.”[…]

    Town councilmembers asked the utilities department to arrange public hearings to gauge input from the community before making its decision. Town staff plans to meet in the coming weeks to decide on the next steps and timelines for bringing the water provider information to residents, said Kim Mutchler, Castle Rock spokeswoman.

    More coverage of the WISE project from Sara Castellanos writing for the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

    Aurora struck a tenative deal Oct. 4 that will grant water to 15 water providers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties in times when Aurora has excess, and that will likely be most of the time. Aurora Water Spokesman Greg Baker said the proposal is momentous. “What makes it historic is the fact that you had all these entities and they came to a consensus on how to solve an issue of this scale,” Baker said.

    Aurora Water, Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority — which represents 15 water providers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties — formed a partnership that will provide the southern metro water authority with at least 5,000 acre-feet of water per year by June 2013 and at least 10,000 acre-feet per year by 2020. The amount of water delivered annually could eventually equal up to 60,000 acre-feet per year. Denver Water will also be able to access its unused water supplies in the South Platte River to make it available to water entities in the water authority or use the same infrastructure to use the water in Denver for emergency use. Denver Water can also provide 3,000 acre-feet of water currently allocated to DIA. The partnership is dubbed WISE, Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency.

    The partnership is crucial for the authority, which has historically been mostly reliant on groundwater and deepwater nonrenewable aquifers. The aquifers, and wells, are hundreds of feet deep into the ground and extract water as old as the glacial period, Baker said. It takes decades and sometimes even centuries for the water to replenish, Baker said…

    Aurora will receive a substantial revenue stream from the deal — equal to a net revenue of about $10 million per year after 2020. The water authority is paying for a $20-million expansion to Prairie Waters slated for completion by 2020, and they are leasing the water at a rate of $5.38 per thousand gallons, which is more than the $5.27 that Aurora residents pay for water rates. The deal will benefit Aurora residents in that their water rates will remain stable, Baker said.

    More WISE project coverage here.

    Aurora, Denver and the South Metro Water Supply Authority embark on the WISE project to share facilities and reuse wastewater treatment plant effluent

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    Here’s the release from the partners.

    More South Platte River basin coverage here.

    Castle Rock is moving to secure long-term renewable water supplies, receives bid from the South Metro Water Supply Authority

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    Castle Rock is on the hunt for a renewable supply and the South Metro Water Supply Authority wants to be the provider. Here’s a report from Rhonda Moore writing for the Castle Rock News Press. From the article:

    Years after launching plans to invest in the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Denver and Aurora Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project to meet its long-term water needs, the town opened the door for bids from providers vying for a chance at a piece of a pie valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The project will be the first investment to get Castle Rock to its goal of weaning itself from underground water and finding a source of long-term, renewable water. Town leaders aim to transform Castle Rock’s water consumption from 100 percent non-renewable, underground wells to getting 75 percent of its water from renewable sources, said Ron Redd, Castle Rock utilities director…

    Castle Rock opened the process up for bids after hearing from other water providers interested in a chance to come before town council with a proposal. That process resulted in three bids presented Sept. 14 in a joint meeting with town council and the utilities commission. Each presenter was given 30 minutes at the podium as councilmembers heard from Renew Strategies, owned by a partnership that includes former Gov. Bill Owens, Stillwater Resources, which acts as a broker to match providers with municipalities like Castle Rock and United Water, which serves public water districts such as the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District and the South Adams County Water District.

    The Denver, Aurora and South Metro Water Supply Authority WISE project could not meet the mid-September deadline because the draft proposal had yet to gain approval from city councils at Denver and Aurora. WISE will get its 30 minutes at another joint meeting between Castle Rock Town Council and the utility commission. The meeting is open to the public and will be at 6 p.m., Oct. 11, in council chambers at Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St.

    Here’s a list of the Castle Rock’s potential suppliers from OurColoradoNews.com:

    Providers who submitted bids include:

    Renew Strategies, owned by a partnership that includes former Gov. Bill Owens.

    Stillwater Resources, which acts as a broker to match providers with municipalities like Castle Rock.

    United Water, which serves public water districts such as the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District and the South Adams County Water District.

    The South Metro Water Supply Authority, a co-op of 15 south metro municipalities and metropolitan districts that includes the town of Castle Rock, Parker Water and Sanitation District, Castle Pines Metropolitan District, Castle Pines North Metropolitan District, Pinery Water and Wastewater District, Roxborough Water and Sanitation District and Stonegate Village Metropolitan District. The authority partnered with the Denver and Aurora water departments to draft the Water Infrastructure Supply Efficiency agreement.

    More South Platte River basin coverage here.

    Centennial: Good planning has the city ready to meet short-term supply needs

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    From the Highlands Ranch Herald (Chris Michlewicz):

    Whether it was securing an agreement with the city of Englewood in 1980 to store 4,000 acre-feet of water in McLellan Reservoir or the recent discovery of a mutual benefit in loaning out some underused infrastructure to Castle Pines, the Centennial Water and Sanitation District has gradually tightened its grasp on what will only become a hotter commodity as the years pass…

    Years of planning and a decision to shift from its reliance on groundwater from the Denver Basin, Denver-Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers have put Centennial Water on a track that is much different than other providers in the region. But because the district is not openly touting its fortunate position, it is sometimes lumped in with other districts. Incorrect information and rumors have given some customers a wrong impression. Hendrick says it drives him nuts to hear that some believe Highlands Ranch is entirely on groundwater. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Sherry Eppers, community relations manager for the district.

    Between McLellan and the South Platte Reservoir, there is 10,000 acre-feet of raw water storage capacity exclusively for Highlands Ranch users. Centennial Water also helped build a 400-acre-foot reservoir in Park County that has been in operation for two years. Surface water rights for Plum Creek came with the initial purchase of the ranch in 1979, but leaders have been actively seeking and developing other sources for several years…

    Centennial Water continues to become involved in new endeavors, including the reallocation project that could nearly double the capacity at Chatfield Reservoir within a few years.
    The district, which is part of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, is also a potential participant in the WISE program, which if approved will funnel 100,000 acre-feet of reclaimed water from Denver and Aurora to the south metro suburbs over a 10-year period…

    Centennial Water wants to continue reducing its groundwater use; it takes 10 percent of the groundwater it’s entitled to, and has used only surface water over the last four years because of wetter seasons. It has even replenished some of the water it has removed from the aquifers over the years. “We’ve recharged 14,000 acre-feet over the last 20 years,” Hendrick said. “That has reduced the drain on the aquifers.”

    More South Platte River basin coverage here.

    Castle Rock: Three water providers show up at public meeting to pitch solutions to the city’s long-term supply needs

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    From the Castle Rock News Press (Rhonda Moore):

    Years after launching an effort to plan for a long-term source of renewable water, Castle Rock put out an invitation to hear from water providers that might be able to compete with the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency program, long touted as the solution to meet the needs of Castle Rock and several south-metro area municipalities.

    Among the water providers that submitted bids were Renew Strategies, headed by former Gov. Bill Owens; Stillwater Resources, which acts as a broker to match providers with municipalities like Castle Rock; and United Water, which serves public water districts such as the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District and the South Adams County Water District.

    WISE, a project from the South Metro Water Supply Authority, was not among the providers that responded to the request for proposal. WISE has long aimed to buy its water from Aurora and Denver and store it in the Rueter-Hess reservoir. The Army Core of Engineers earlier this year notified Rueter-Hess officials that the plan violates a provision of the reservoir’s federal permit, and town councils from Aurora and Denver have yet to approve a proposal for the WISE project.

    The responses included a proposal from Renew Strategies to acquire underground water from the Lost Creek Basin for between $23,000 and $24,000 per acre foot, plus infrastructure costs of up to $75 million; Stillwater’s option to purchase 4,000 acre feet of Boxelder farm water rights for about $21,000 per acre foot; and United Water’s proposal to sell South Platte surface water to Castle Rock for $23,850 per acre foot, which includes about $9 million in infrastructure costs.

    More Denver Basin aquifer system coverage here.

    Castle Rock: Wednesday the Town Council and the Town Utilities Commission will hear from water providers who want to supply the long-term needs for the town

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    From the Town of Castle Rock via the Castle Rock News Press:

    Members of the public, along with Town Council and the Town Utilities Commission, will hear from the groups that wish to provide the Town with long-term water at a special meeting Sept. 14.

    The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St.

    Three of the four groups that have been short-listed in the search for the Town’s long-term water provider – Renew Strategies, Stillwater Resources and United Water – will each make a half-hour presentation, followed by questions from Town officials and the public.

    The fourth proposal – the WISE agreement between South Metro Water Supply Authority, Aurora Water and Denver Water – is being reviewed by the Aurora City Council prior to being released to the public.

    All four proposals will be evaluated against the same criteria, which include the opportunity to succeed, cost, local partnership opportunities, existing infrastructure, experience and water rights.

    Seven proposals in all were received in response to the Town’s June request for water supply proposals. All of those proposals were reviewed against the same criteria in placing the four remaining proposals on the short list. At [this] week’s special meeting, the three groups will introduce their projects and provide information on their concept, water supply characteristics and costs.

    This effort to secure a long-term water source is just one component of the Town’s Legacy Water Projects – the goal of which is to transition the Town to 75 percent renewable water by the time it is built out. (All of the Town’s water currently comes from nonrenewable wells.)
    There are two other major components to Legacy Waters:

    • The purchase of water storage space in Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which will open next year near Parker
    • The construction of a water purification facility in Castle Rock, which will provide for 35 percent of the Town’s renewable water needs by 2013

    Additional funding will be needed to secure the water that is needed for the Town’s future. The Town may hold a property tax election in 2012 or 2013 in order to fund the Legacy Water Projects.

    More Denver Basin aquifer system coverage here.

    Federal funding may become available for the south Metro suburbs, Aurora and Denver to use for the WISE project

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    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    Suburban water authorities said the project [Water Infrastructure Supply Efficiency or WISE], designed to reduce reliance on dwindling underground water, will cost about $558 million.

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said “rural water supply” funds may be available for the project, if it survives a detailed feasibility review. Congress would need to authorize the federal funding, which could decrease the bill passed on to water customers. “What we’re looking at: Is this project capable of being completed? Is the cost-benefit going to work out? Is it going to be beneficial?” Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Peter Soeth said.

    Meanwhile, a crucial wastewater purchase deal with Denver and Aurora has yet to be done. How much wastewater could be diverted, and how often, remains under negotiation. The suburbs told federal officials the WISE project would deliver 5,000 to 11,000 acre-feet a year for the first five years, then as much as 37,000 acre-feet a year…

    The federal rural water-supply funds could be used because suburbs with populations under 50,000 are deemed “rural,” said Mark Shively, executive director of the Douglas County Water Resource Authority. “We have very aggressively pursued this opportunity,” Shively said. “We’re now about 20 percent into the feasibility study.”[…]

    Beyond pipeline construction, the proposed project involves new storage of treated wastewater in surface reservoirs and by injecting it into depleted aquifers. “We have a couple reservoirs we’re looking at,” Shively said. “Between the Chatfield and Rueter Hess (reservoirs) we have a good amount of storage.”

    Here’s the report from Reclamation.

    More WISE project coverage here.