Metro District responds to Rocky Mountain News article
On Saturday, November 22, the Rocky Mountain News targeted Castle Pines North as a community that is in danger of running out of water because water levels in wells are dropping.
However, the article did not tell the entire story. In fact, the article left out key information, printed quotes and statistics out of context, gave false impressions, and drew misleading conclusions.
The truth is:
CPN’s wells are strictly engineered to avoid the kinds of problems discussed in the article.
CPN (in conjunction with Castle Pines Village and various government agencies) is the only water district in Douglas County to have conducted “core hole” studies to verify the “100-year” water supply.
The CPN Metro District has numerous projects either completed or in the works that conserve the “non-renewable” well water, and obtain “renewable” surface water.
If you have further questions or would like additional information, please plan to attend a question/answer session with Castle Pines North water consultant Theresa Jehn-Dellaport on Monday, December 15th, from 6 to 7pm at the CPN Community center. You may also contact the CPN Metro District’s Manager, Judy Dahl, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (303) 688-8550.
Are CPN’s wells having the problems that the article described?
CPN is located in the most productive portion of the Denver Basin. Because of our strict drilling standards, our wells pump consistently higher than average. These rigorous standards result in a 20-30% increase in pumping rates as well as minimal costs if aquifer water levels decrease.
Aquifer water levels only matter when you drill to reach water. The individual wells in the Chatfield subdivision (western Douglas County), which were specifically discussed in the Rocky Mountain News article, were drilled only until they hit water. Consequently, problems arise as water levels decline during irrigation seasons. This is in contrast to Castle Pines North, which drills all wells to the bottom of the aquifer. CPN has all of their pumps at the bottom of the aquifer, so wells do not “run dry.”
The Rocky Mountain News article only talked about the Arapahoe aquifer. The Arapahoe aquifer is only one of five available to our Metro District for use. The other four Denver Basin aquifers were not mentioned because they either don’t decline at all, or decline very little, and to be blunt, those aquifers do not make a good story.
CPN’s experts, who have studied the Denver Basin under CPN for over 20 years say that once the Arapahoe aquifer reaches the depressurized point (the top of the Arapahoe formation), it will either not decline at all or decline less than five ft per year – not the 15 ft that was in the RMN story. This is without the ongoing conservation efforts and other plans the District is putting into place to preserve our water resource.
What do they mean by the 100-year water supply?
Based on research conducted in the early 1980’s, it was determined that our District had more than a 100-year supply available. A core hole was conducted at one of our well sites. The core hole took a continuous sample of all of the five aquifers. The core hole showed that more than 100 years supply was available. While there may be speculation about the “100 year supply” of other water districts in Douglas County, CPN in conjunction with Castle Pines Village are the only Districts to have conducted the core sample study.
In addition, a calculation was made by the water court stating how much water our district could take out of the Denver Basin. The District has yet to use the total annual amount allotted. In 2002, for example, we used only 38 percent of our allotment, and we can bank the un-used 62 percent to extend our supply into the future.
If we’re running out of water, why are we building more homes?
First of all, we are not running out of water.
The water supply plan approved by the state in the early 1980’s was for many more homes than we will actually have at build-out. We have approximately 600 more homes to complete – not the 1,300 stated in the Rocky.
What about The Ridge golf course?
The Ridge is a good neighbor. They use less water per year than most golf courses. If homes occupied the land that is currently the golf course, they would use approximately 25 percent more water than the Ridge uses annually.
Beginning in 2004, the golf course will be using re-use water, instead of pumping water from wells. This will save 55 million gallons per year from our wells.
How do water conservation efforts affect our supply?
This year 2003 marked the beginning of the Castle Pines North Water Conservation Program. Mandatory water restrictions and homeowner education resulted in a savings of 17 million gallons over the same period last year. This was accomplished even though 223 new homes and several businesses were added during the same period. Water conservation efforts for 2004 and beyond are ongoing. Homeowner participation is important every year, not just in drought years.
What else is CPN doing to ensure adequate water supply for our community?
The CPN Metro District has initiated numerous projects to extend the life of our underground water supply, and to obtain “renewable” surface water for our community.
Why did the Rocky Mountain News specifically target Castle Pines North?
CPN is one of very few Districts that actually collect water level data on a daily basis, because the District is very serious about managing the available resource as conservatively as possible. Therefore, the Rocky used our data for their story. Statements such as CPN Metro District wells “have the fastest rates of decline in the County” are misleading because other Districts have very little data if any.
Is this the same reporter who wrote the erroneous article about CPN last year?
Yes. As you may remember, last year the Rocky Mountain News, in a big front-page spread, detailed how Castle Pines North residents were the highest water users in the area. Actually, the reporter had incorrectly calculated our usage, which would have shown that our area was not one of the top users; we were actually one of the most water-conservative communities. When we called and pointed out the error to the reporter, a small correction was buried inside the paper. The damage had already been done.
Water Supply and Conservation in Castle Pines North
The CPN Metro District has several projects completed, underway and planned to extend the life of our underground water supply, and to obtain “renewable” surface water for our community.
2003 marked the beginning of the Castle Pines North Water Conservation Program. Mandatory water restrictions and homeowner education resulted in a savings of 17 million gallons over the same period last year. This was accomplished even though 223 new homes and several businesses were added during the same period. Water conservation efforts for 2004 and beyond are ongoing
Beginning with the 2004 irrigation season, The Ridge golf course will be watered using re-use water, instead of pumping water from wells. This re-use line will save 55 million gallons per year from our wells.
Watering of our open space will eventually use “recycled” water; water that runs off our yards into the nearby creeks. This water will be captured using shallow wells, and will be pumped directly onto our open space and parks turf. We hope to have this functional as soon as possible. We are working with the State Engineers Office to get approvals.
We have applied to the State to allow us to recharge our wells. This means that we would pump surface water into our wells in the winter (slow season), and use the aquifer as a kind of “reservoir”. Then in the summer, we would pump out our water, when it is needed. Recharge of the aquifers will reduce the decline and preserve the resource for even longer than the 100 years.
We are a member of Douglas County Water Resources Authority, a group of many water districts in Douglas County. This group is currently studying and planning for future renewable water sources. Long-term solutions will need to be made as a group, not as one small District.
We are also looking to develop and use the surface water rights that the District owns on East Plum Creek.