South Metro Denver on Path to Sustainable Water Future

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Russ Rizzo
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  • SMWSA Master Plan shows tremendous progress transitioning to renewable water
  • South Metro region now a state leader in conservation, efficiency and reuse
  • Hecox: ‘More to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path’

Greenwood Village, Colo., August 9, 2016 – The South Denver Metro region has made tremendous progress securing a sustainable water future over the past 12 years thanks to aggressive efforts to conserve water, maximize efficiency and invest in renewable water supplies, according to the results of the 2016 South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA) Master Plan Update.

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

20160729 Districts

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

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

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

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

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

Smoky Hill Tank

The 2 million gallon water storage tank at Smoky Hill Road was completed in the Summer of 2016. The tank is an element of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) Project, a regional water supply project between Aurora Water, Denver Water and participating members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority.

 

More Work Ahead

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

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

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

About South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA)

The South Metro Water Supply Authority is a regional water authority comprised of 13 water provider members that collectively serve about 80 percent of the population of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County. SMWSA was established in 2004 to develop and execute a plan to provide a secure and sustainable water future for the region.

Through increased negotiating power and collaborative support for new projects, SMWSA is transforming the region’s water supply and creating a sustainable future for generations to come. For more information, visit: southmetrowater.org.


Denver Regional Council of Governments Honors The WISE Project With a 2016 Metro Vision Award

A Regional Partnership for a Sustainable Water Future

DENVER (April 28, 2016) – The South Metro WISE Authority received a 2016 Metro Vision Award from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) for The WISE project. The award was presented by Elise Jones, DRCOG Chair and Chair of the Boulder County Board of Commissioners, at DRCOG’s Annual Awards celebration, held April 27 at the Westin DIA.

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.

According to Rick Marsicek, Director of Engineering for the South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA), “this project is one of the first of its kind in the country and it has broad support from across the State of Colorado. The WISE Partnership will benefit roughly two 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.

Eric Hecox,  Joe Stibrich with Aurora Wate, and Rick Marsicek
Executive Director Eric Hecox, Joe Stibrich with Aurora Water, and Director of Engineering Rick Marsicek

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 and the West Slope will receive new funding for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.

WISE is one part of South Metro Water’s broader plan for a sustainable water future. 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 making significant investments in water infrastructure.

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.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments is a planning organization where local governments collaborate to establish guidelines, set policy and allocation finding in the areas of:
• Transportation and personal mobility
• Growth and development
• Aging and disability resources

 

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News Release: WISE One Step Closer to Delivering Water

For Immediate Release:
October 29, 2014

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