Sun Resources is pitching 17,500 acre-feet per year of Denver Basin Aquifer water to El Paso and Douglas customers

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Two test wells drilled deep beneath Douglas County-owned open space, between Denver and Colorado Springs, found abundant water and good pressure, consistent with 1995 estimates by the state engineer. Permanent facilities — including pump stations — are being installed so that the aquifers can be tapped. Project leaders at Sun Resources Inc. said they could pump up to 17,500 acre-feet a year and are talking with municipal and private parties in Douglas and El Paso counties — but haven’t signed contracts.

Pumping more from aquifers “should not be ignored as a partial solution to a lot of people’s problems,” said Gary Pierson, president of Sun Resources, a company owned by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz. “Water is becoming a problem in Colorado, Kansas, Texas, California, Nevada and across the country. People need to be sensible and have well-thought-out plans.”

Along the Front Range, proposed new housing developments increasingly face water constraints as local governments push developers to show they’ve lined up enough water to sustain residents at maximum build-out — in line with a recent court ruling. And leaders warn that underground water levels in recent years have fallen by as much as 30 feet a year.

“We’ve got to get out of aquifers. That’s not a sustainable source of water. We’ve got to move to renewable sources,” Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert said. “If I had my preference, I’d love the water to stay under Greenland Ranch. But it is a private-property right,” he said…

The amount of water under the county’s Greenland Ranch open space was estimated 18 years ago using a formula. A state water court decreed that there are 3.8 million acre-feet available. Applying the state law that says pumping must not deplete aquifers sooner than 100 years, the decree said about 38,000 acre-feet a year could be pumped. Sun doesn’t own rights to all that estimated quantity.

The decree also says state officials retain jurisdiction to reassess the amount of water based on hard data once wells are drilled. State officials will do that “when the time is right,” deputy state engineer Kevin Rein said. “Just with two wells, spaced very close together at one side of the land,” he said, “we’re not really able to use those to extrapolate” how much is there.

More Denver Basin Aquifer System coverage here.

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