Developers citing the need to deal with looming water shortages propose to build a massive reservoir in the foothills southwest of Denver.
But they don't have water to fill it.
On Tuesday, Penley Water Co. called the reservoir essential for weaning Front Range suburbs from wells, which produce less and less water as underground aquifers are depleted.
The proposed $105 million reservoir would inundate about 306 acres west of Sedalia and hold up to 22,500 acre-feet of water. That's slightly larger than Denver Water's Marston reservoir.
It would be the second major new reservoir in the Denver area for which little or no water has been acquired. Parker Water & Sanitation District is building the $230 million Rueter-Hess reservoir to store up to 72,000 acre-feet of water. Douglas County commissioners are reviewing engineering documents and a staff recommendation that they approve the project — with or without water to fill it.
"It's up to the developer if they want to take the expense of moving the earth before they have the water lined up," planning supervisor Curt Weitkunat said.
Across the Front Range, water woes are intensifying because developers in the past built subdivisions on semi-arid land and counted on wells, some drilled as deep as 2,700 feet into Denver Basin aquifers, which a Colorado Foundation for Water Education study shows are dropping by an inch a day in some areas.
About 60 percent of residents in 15 suburbs depend on groundwater wells, said Rod Kuharich, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. The authority, however, remained neutral on the Penley project.
"It's an engineering question," Kuharich said. "You'd have to find out if there's water to put into it."
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Matt’s Rant: The situation is beyond desperate in my view and we continue to burn this candle at both ends. More people moving in, more houses being built and more water being used. Real water conservation is a tough sell to homeowners with yards that need to stay green, pools that need to be filled and hot showers that take almost an hour to complete. Irrigation needs are maxed out and even drinking supplies are getting smaller and smaller. The problem is getting worse and the population models burst around 2020.
Without some significant moisture at near record levels the Front Range will continue to feel the strain of increased population, lower moisture levels and a continued choking of our water supply. This situation is getting worse and we continue to reach for bandaid solutions such as digging holes for water we may or may not find.
These days I have my showers limited to 3 of 4 paper cups of water and eating dry instant coffee mix in the morning. It may seem crazy but I am just doing my part for water conservation. Unfortunately I feel like the only one and my efforts won’t stop the reservoirs from being drained when the water is needed. Colorado is planning on draining a few reservoirs this year while others are being planned. This will merely buy a few lawns a little more time.
Good luck and good fishing.