In 2015 the Colorado Water Conservation Board released its final draft of the Colorado Water Plan, a first of its kind for the state and a driving force in Colorado’s water future. A key tenet of this plan is regional cooperation, an emerging strategy in the Colorado water community and a value that has been a driving force at the South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA) since its foundation. Through local and regional partnerships, we are getting more use out of existing infrastructure and supplies. Below are a few examples of regional partnerships between SMWSA and other entities:
The WISE Project is a first-of-its-kind partnership with South Metro Water, Denver Water and Aurora Water that bolsters water supplies to the south Denver suburbs while maximizing existing water assets in Denver and Aurora.
- Ten South Metro Water members will receive a significant new renewable water supply;
- Denver will receive a new backup water supply;
- Aurora will receive cost-share partners in its recently completed Prairie Waters Project; and
- The West Slope will receive new funding, managed by the River District, for forest restoration activities in Grand and Summit counties as well as for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.
In early 2016, the WISE Project received the Metro Vision Award from the Denver Regional Council of Government for outstanding effort in the Denver region.
SMWSA and Douglas County are partnering to help ensure a sustainable water supply for the South Metro region. Currently they are collaborating on important projects such as the reservation of additional WISE Water for future needs, the Colorado/Wyoming Coalition, conservation programs like Landscape Certification for contractors in the area, and regional messaging.
State of Colorado
SMWSA has been heavily involved with the State of Colorado through the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), and the Basin Roundtables. Through grants, collaboration, and other forms of support, the CWCB has supported various efforts of SMWSA such as the WISE Project. Conversely, SMWSA worked closely with CWCB and played an active role in the development of Colorado’s Water Plan.
Through the regional Groundwater Committee, SMWSA is leading the way in coordinating a regional effort to store water resources underground. The practice of ASR has been successfully implemented at the local level in Colorado for decades but there are advantages to coordinating underground storage at a regional level. In 2016, SMWSA reinitiated an effort to evaluate the feasibility, economic constraints, and benefits of a regional ASR project. Working with entities such as Denver Water, Centennial Water & Sanitation District serving Highlands Ranch, and Colorado State University, this feasibility study will help guide additional ASR efforts in the future.
Currently, much of the space in Chatfield Reservoir is used for flood control. However, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who owns the reservoir, has determined that Chatfield Reservoir can actually reallocate 20,600 acre feet of water storage without compromising its original flood control function. The additional storage in the reservoir will be used by several municipal water providers and agricultural organizations to meet their needs along the lower South Platte River.
The Chatfield project participants currently include: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Center of Colorado Water Conservancy District, Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, Mount Carbon Metropolitan District, and three individual SMWSA Members.
The Colorado/Wyoming Coalition is a joint collaboration between Colorado and Wyoming entities that was created to investigate the feasibility of the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Project, an interstate water project between Colorado and Wyoming. The Colorado entities involved in the Coalition include Douglas County, the 13 members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Donala Water and Sanitation District, and Cherokee Metro District in the Pikes Peak Region. The Wyoming entities include the City of Cheyenne, City of Torrington and Laramie County. The project would take unappropriated water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and deliver it to project participants in Wyoming and Colorado through existing channels and new infrastructure.