The Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation Study
An incredible view of Chatfield Reservoir photograhed at sunset.
By Elizabeth Wood West with photo provided by Thaddeus Roan
The Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation Study (Study) is a federal study designed to assess the feasibility of reallocating some of the water storage space in Chatfield Reservoir (Chatfield) from flood control use to multi-purpose uses, including up to 20,600 acre-feet for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), a division of the State of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, is the state sponsor of the Study. The CWCB was established in 1937 by the Colorado State Legislature for the purpose of “Aiding in the protection and development of the waters of the state for the benefit of the present and future inhabitants of the state . . .”
The Study is being done on behalf of a group of 15 regional water users, including Castle Pines Metropolitan District and Castle Pines North Metropolitan District.
CWCB contracted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District (Corps), which owns and operates Chatfield Reservoir and Dam, to conduct a Feasibility Report and an Environmental Impact Statement (FR/EIS) for the purpose of evaluating the potential impacts and costs of four alternatives: Two options for reallocation and two alternatives for water users if no action is taken at Chatfield. The Study is being funded by federal and state budget appropriations and local water users, and has broad support from government agencies, special districts, non-profit interests, and local, state, and federal officials.
According to the CWCB’s 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative, Colorado’s population is projected to increase by 65 percent between 2000 and 2030. Water demand along the front range is estimated to exceed supply by 22 percent, leaving 90,700 acre-feet of unmet needs. Regional water users are looking to Chatfield as a place to store and use renewable surface water from Plum Creek and the South Platte River during low-flow periods, which could aid in reducing dependence on non-renewable groundwater.
On June 8, the Corps released the FR/EIS for public comment until September 6, after which the document will be revised and a final draft will be released. The Corps is expected to issue a Record of Decision on the reallocation proposal before the end of the year.