U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- Denver Water's board is considering a $65 million
proposal that would allow the utility to tap aquifers for emergency
The utility's board is expected to consider the proposal in
``This system would act as an insurance policy in case of some
catastrophic failure of our system,'' said David Little, a Denver
Water planner. ``The water would only be used in a dire emergency.''
If the board approves the plan, it could take up to 30 years to
develop, Little said.
Wells would be hidden from sight in underground vaults. Early
estimates indicate the wells could provide about 29,000 acre feet per
year, enough to serve as many as 60,000 families for a year.
Denver Water, the state's largest water utility, provides about
285,000 acre feet to its 1.2 million customers each year.
Estimates of how much water lies in aquifers beneath Denver and
other Front Range cities vary widely. Denver Water officials believe
aquifer supplies are sharply limited and would require extensive
treatment to make it potable.
And unlike the utility's standard supply, from mountain snowmelt
that is renewed each year, underground supplies are considered
difficult if not impossible to replenish.
``Everyone who is on groundwater now is trying to get off,''
Little said. ``And there's a growing recognition that the more straws
that go into the aquifer, the more quickly water levels are going to
drop, and the more quickly everyone's going to have problems.''
Denver Water has talked about tapping aquifers for more than a
decade, but decided to move forward with initial work on the proposal
during the peak of the drought last summer.
In April, it filed a formal water court application staking claim
to the water. Under state law, cities can claim groundwater lying
under land within their boundaries.
Several metro-area cities including Aurora, Englewood, Highlands
Ranch and Lakewood are monitoring Denver's plans to make sure that
any new wells do not degrade production of existing wells.
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