Water districts tap into Denver, Aurora supply

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Parker’s busiest water provider will soon decide whether to strike a deal that will import water from Denver and Aurora.

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. An acre-foot, depending on the region and conservation efforts, is generally enough to serve a family of four for a year.

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.

“Hopefully the board goes in that direction,” Redd said.

While serving as Castle Rock’s utilities director last year, Redd sent out a request for proposal to determine the availability of water for sale in Colorado and said there was “surprisingly little out there.” Parker Water has a “fairly robust short-term plan,” with return flows and junior water rights on Cherry Creek.

However, the district, which is expected to grow to 150,000 people at full build-out, will need to acquire and transport another 5,000 to 6,000 acre-feet of water sometime between 2030 and 2035 for its long-term needs. The district is in the process of developing a detailed master plan.

The Pinery Water and Wastewater District is buying 500 acre-feet of water to help offset declining production from the Denver Basin Aquifer.

“It’s been a long-term goal of the district to replace our reliance on Denver Basin groundwater with renewable water supplies,” said Charlie Krogh, the Pinery water district’s manager.

In 2011, the district’s board of directors adopted a resolution initiating a $12.50 per household monthly fee that was designated specifically for water development projects. Krogh says that money will pay for the infrastructure needed to get the water to the Pinery. The 4,100-customer district has also had preliminary discussions about the possibility of buying storage space in Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

Krogh, who also is a board member with the South Metro Water Supply Authority, said he did not know the cost of the water to Pinery customers and added that a rate analysis is being planned. The district will have time to ease into the costs, he said.

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.

“It spreads the costs out over multiple generations of ratepayers,” Redd said.

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