Progress Report: New projects and regional partnerships are creating a secure and sustainable water future

Water is our most precious resource. It is what makes the South Metro Denver region’s outstanding quality of life and growing economy possible. As summer heats up, South Metro Water is reminded of the importance of our commitment to creating a secure and sustainable water future for our region.

While there is more to be done to achieve that commitment, the good news is we are making progress.  Below is an update on the progress that South Metro Water and our members are making on our plan to ensure future generations can call the South Metro region home.

WISE breaks ground

The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) Project is a regional water supply project between Aurora Water, Denver Water and South Metro Water Supply Authority.  After several years of work, the project has now broken ground.  Construction of a critical component of the project’s infrastructure – a water tank at the corner of Smoky Hill Road and E-470 – began on July 27th.

This innovative regional partnership is one of the first of its kind in the country. It will reduce groundwater reliance and bolster renewable water supplies to the South Metro area, while maximizing the use of existing water assets belonging to Aurora and Denver Water.  With this groundbreaking, WISE is on track to deliver water in 2016.

Learn more at:

Photo by Chris Michlewicz, Parker Chronicle
Photo by Chris Michlewicz, Parker Chronicle

Rueter-Hess Reservoir filling up

Rueter-Hess, a crucial source of water for Parker, continues to fill. As of July 20, the reservoir contained 21,100 acre feet, enough water to serve Parker’s existing population for nearly four years.  A particularly wet May and June saw the reservoir rise 3.7 feet in one four-week period and average one foot per month. Water levels are currently at 95 feet, halfway to the top.

The Parker Chronicle recently wrote an article about the recreational amenities at the reservoir that will be available for public use and enjoyment.  Details are still being determined, but trails, non-motorized boating and fishing are likely to be among the recreational activities that will be offered.

Read the recent article in the Parker Chronicle to learn more about Rueter-Hess.

Arapahoe Water’s new pipeline boosts renewable water supply

Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority (ACWWA) is constructing a new water line connection for its long term project, ACWWA Flow. The new 4,000 foot long 24 inch water line will be installed in conjunction with the City of Centennial’s Arapahoe Road – Waco to Himalaya – road widening project that will begin construction by Fall 2015.

The new pipeline will be used to deliver up to 4,400 acre-feet of ACWWA’s renewable water from the South Platte Basin to ACWWA customers. This will be delivered in part through facilities operated by East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District, in which ACWWA owns capacity. This collaborative approach with regional water partners will help provide a secure, sustainable and high quality water source for current and future ACWWA customers.

Learn more about the ACWWA Flow Project at:

Photo coutesy of
Photo coutesy of

Expanding supply through a new water treatment process

East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District (ECCV) is piloting a new high-tech water cleaning process that could further increase renewable water supplies. The process would take the salty waste liquid from existing treatment and turn it into clean and usable water. ECCV’s existing 31-mile pipeline currently carries water to 55,000 customers between the Cherry Creek Reservoir and the E-470 beltway. If proven successful, this new treatment process would further increase the efficiency of this system and help ECCV continue to provide high quality water to thousands of current and future South Metro residents.

Read the recent Denver Post article to learn more about this innovative new treatment process.

Photo courtesy of Chatfield State Park
Photo courtesy of Chatfield State Park

Chatfield Reallocation Project moving forward

The Chatfield Reallocation Project, which will expand storage in the reservoir by an additional 20,600 acre feet, continues to move forward.  Now that the project has received the necessary regulatory approvals, the project has issued an RFP for a Program Manager (PM).  The PM will be selected later this summer or early in the fall to move forward with the management of design and construction of the project which will provide additional storage capacity for several participating entities including Castle Pines, Castle Rock and Centennial Water and Sanitation District serving Highlands Ranch.

To learn more about Chatfield, visit

Eric Hecox and other state water leaders discuss Colorado’s Water Plan on Colorado Public Radio

The second draft of Colorado’s Water Plan was just released.  Colorado Public Radio gathered Eric Hecox, Executive Director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, along with the leaders of Denver Water and the Colorado River District, to discuss the plan and how the South Metro region is a leader already implementing much of what the plan recommends.

Listen to the full story on Colorado Public Radio.


Water bosses: Colorado will have enough water if managed right

Even in the face of climate change and a growing population, Colorado can have enough water in the future. That’s according to three water managers from around the state. But abundance won’t happen by accident; the state will have to steward the water it has and plan its growth smartly.

Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water; Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority; and Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District in Glenwood Springs spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. They talked about the second draft of the state’s first water plan, which is available now. It will be finalized in December.

If management of Colorado’s water resources goes unchanged, the state is projected to face a gap of hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water. One acre foot provides enough water for three families of four, on average, for a year. The state demographer expects Colorado’s population to double by 2050, which is accounted for in the projection.

But the gap doesn’t have to become reality, according to the three.

“We have enough water in the system — even if climate change reduces our supplies — but we have to use it in a much smarter way,” Kuhn said.

Jim Lochhead on the “action plan” included in the water plan’s second draft

“At this point I would characterize it as a compendium of ideas. It doesn’t set out priorities, it doesn’t set out timelines, it doesn’t set who will do what by when… For example, right now the plan speaks to municipalities saving 400,000 acre feet of water. I think that we need a statewide water efficiency goal that applies across the state, across all sectors. Whether it’s agriculture, industry or municipalities, we all need to be sharing in achieving greater efficiency. Right now it’s simply targeted at municipalities.”

Eric Kuhn on “the big issue” on the Colorado River

“Every drop of water today is used. Except for manmade exports of water that was saved in Mexico due to the accident of an earthquake, no water has gotten to the gulf of Baja California since 1999. So, if a city is going to use new water supplies from the Colorado River, somebody else in the Colorado River system is going to use less…

[But] look at some of the success stories in the Colorado River Basin. Las Vegas is serving 2.1 million today with two thirds of the water that they were using 10 years ago and serving 500,000 or 600,000 people less…

We have enough water in the system, even if climate change reduces our supplies. But we have to use it in a much smarter way.”

Eric Hecox on what South Metro communities have done to reduce water use

“We have historically had an over-reliance on non-renewable groundwater, which is essentially groundwater in wells. Our access to that water supply has been diminishing… for all intents and purposes, they’re drying up.

“[Out of necessity], our members have reduced collectively in the area water use by about 30 percent… We have two members, that are two of only a few in the state, that put individual customers on water budgets. We have a number of members that are paying current customers to transform their outdoor landscaping. We have members that are really pushing the boundaries of what they can do with new development, and giving significant incentives to new developers to put in place development that uses less water. In addition to that our members, for all intents and purposes, are reusing their supplies.”

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