WISE One Step Closer to Delivering Water

October 30, 2014
WISE System Map September 11, 2014

WISE System Map September 11, 2014

Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Denver Water, and the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District (Russ Rizzo/Stacy Chesney/Andy Cohen):

WISE One Step Closer to Delivering Water

  • Purchase of East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District pipeline by South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water finalized
  • Water delivery to begin in 2016 following additional infrastructure build-out
  • Partnership represents new era in regional cooperation and water efficiency
  • The southern suburbs of Denver took a significant step forward in shifting to a water system that makes use of renewable water supply on Oct. 21 when members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water purchased the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District’s Western Waterline. The pipeline purchase is a significant milestone in WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency), a partnership between 10 of the South Metro members, Denver Water and Aurora Water to share water supply and infrastructure.

    Using Aurora’s Prairie Waters system, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide water through the Western pipeline to participating South Metro members on a permanent basis. WISE will also provide a new emergency supply for Denver Water, and offset costs and stabilize water rates for Aurora.

    “The purchase of ECCV’s pipeline makes WISE and the sharing of water supplies possible,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “This is a significant milestone for the WISE Partnership and moves communities throughout the South Metro area one step closer to a secure and sustainable water future,” he said.

    The 20-mile east-west pipeline along E-470 and C-470 has capacity to deliver 38 million gallons of water a day to Douglas and Arapahoe counties.

    “Our sale of this pipeline is mutually beneficial for all the parties involved,” said O. Karl Kasch, president of the ECCV board. “Under the purchase and sale agreement, ECCV will still have the capacity we need in the pipeline, while also supporting a regional solution to one of the most important water challenges facing the Denver metro region. We have always viewed the Western Waterline as an infrastructure asset from which the entire South Metro community can benefit, and that’s what will be accomplished.”

    Under the agreement, Denver Water and Aurora Water will sell an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to South-Metro water suppliers beginning in 2016 with the option to increase to 10,000 acre-feet in future years.

    “We’re thrilled to be moving forward with the WISE Partnership,” said Dave Little, director of planning for Denver Water. “This agreement will create more system flexibility and increase the reliability of our water supply system, leading to a more secure water future for communities throughout the region.”

    WISE water is expected to begin flowing through the ECCV pipeline in 2016, once the remaining infrastructure, such as system interconnects, are complete.

    For additional details on the WISE project and updates, visit http://www.southmetrowater.org/storage-WISE.html.

    More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post:

    Denver and south metro suburbs have taken a $34 million step toward water-sharing to wean the suburbs off dwindling underground aquifers.

    The South Metro Water Supply Authority and Denver Water announced Wednesday they bought a 20-mile pipeline — built for $44 million in 2004 by the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District — to carry excess Denver and Aurora water to 10 suburbs including Castle Rock, Centennial and Parker.

    This east-west pipeline is seen as the spine of a new distribution system to move an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to suburbs that, in some cases, remain totally dependent on the finite Denver Basin aquifer.

    “This allows them to change the way they are using the aquifer,” said Eric Hecox, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents the suburbs. “It won’t get them off the aquifer completely. It will allow them to use it as a backup supply.”

    Denver Basin aquifer system

    Denver Basin aquifer system

    Colorado has let developers tap aquifers to serve multiplying new homes, but pumping the underground water is becoming more difficult and costly with water tables falling in some areas by 1 to 3 feet a year.

    About two dozen utilities between Denver and Colorado Springs together pump more than 30,000 acre-feet of water a year from about 440 municipal wells, according to water suppliers.

    This Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project, if it works as envisioned, would take advantage of water already used by Denver and Aurora, cleaning it fully in Aurora’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant.

    More pipeline connections must be built, but buying the ECCV pipeline is a major step, Hecox said.

    South Metro paid 85 percent of the $34 million. Denver Water paid $4.7 million.

    The pipeline runs under the 470 beltway and can carry up to 38 million gallons a day. ECCV can keep moving up to 8 million gallons a day to its southeast metro customers.

    “Without that pipeline, we cannot deliver the water,” Aurora Water spokesman Greg Baker said. “Now we can start moving forward toward delivering water.”

    From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

    Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents more than a dozen water utilities in the southern edges of the metro area, on Oct. 21 agreed to pay $34 million to buy the pipeline from the East Cherry Creek Valley district. The South Metro water districts is an 85 percent owner of the pipeline and Denver Water paid $4,725,000 for its 15 percent ownership, Bennett said.

    “We found a way between Denver, the South Metro districts and East Cherry Creek to share the capacity of the pipeline, so it will now be used to deliver water to the south metro entities,” said Dave Bennett, a water resource project manager with Denver Water.

    Denver Water, which serves more than 1 million customers in Denver and some surrounding suburbs, also will be able to use the pipeline to capture water and reuse it in its systems, Bennett said.

    “Instead of going out and building a new, duplicate pipeline, we found a way to share that existing infrastructure,” Bennett said.

    The pipeline is crucial to the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) partnership, which includes 10 southern water districts, Denver Water and Aurora Water. Under the WISE agreements, treated water that’s been used once by Denver and Aurora and added to the South Platte River will be recaptured at a spot along the river north of Denver. Then, via Aurora’s 34-mile Prairie Water pipeline, the water will be shipped back to the Peter D. Binney Water Purification Facility near the Aurora Reservoir. After it’s treated at the plant, the Western Waterline pipeline will be crucial for moving the treated water to the southern suburbs.

    “The purchase of ECCV’s pipeline makes WISE and the sharing of water supplies possible,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “This is a significant milestone for the WISE Partnership and moves communities throughout the South Metro area one step closer to a secure and sustainable water future.”

    Under the WISE agreement, Denver Water and Aurora Water will sell an average of 7,250 acre-feet of water a year to south-metro water suppliers beginning in 2016 with the option to increase to 10,000 acre-feet in future years. One acre-foot of water equals 325,851 gallons, enough to support 2½ families of four for a year.

    Karl Kasch, president of the East Cherry Creek Valley board of directors, said the sale of the district’s pipeline was beneficial for all parties. The district retained ownership of 8 million gallons per day worth of capacity on the pipeline, which can carry 38 million gallons of water per day.

    “Under the purchase and sale agreement, ECCV [the district] will still have the capacity we need in the pipeline, while also supporting a regional solution to one of the most important water challenges facing the Denver metro region,” Kasch said.

    “We have always viewed the Western Waterline as an infrastructure asset from which the entire South Metro community can benefit, and that’s what will be accomplished,” he said.

    More work needs to be done to connect the pipeline to Aurora’s water treatment plant, connect it to Denver Water’s system, and connect the southern water districts to the pipeline, but that’s expected to be done in the next few years, Bennett said.

    More WISE Project coverage here.


    H2Ooohh: Halloween water facts

    October 24, 2014

    Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

    Whether you are carving a pumpkin, bobbing for apples or running from zombies this Halloween, water is bound to be part of the festivities.

    Below are 10 not-so-scary water facts to share over a steaming cup of witches’ brew at your Halloween party.

    Erik Holck, Denver Water construction project manager, grew a giant pumpkin weighing in at 657 pounds this summer. For one stretch in August, the pumpkin grew about 28 pounds a day!

    Erik Holck, Denver Water construction project manager, grew a giant pumpkin weighing in at 657 pounds this summer. For one stretch in August, the pumpkin grew about 28 pounds a day!

    1. It takes 350,000 gallons of water over a 100-day growing season for a one-acre corn maze.
    2. A pumpkin is 90 percent water.
    3. The optimal water level to bob for apples is 5 gallons in a 10-gallon tub.
    4. A black cat drinks 2-4 ounces of water each day.
    5. A kettle of witches’ brew contains very little water; it’s mostly dead leaves, seaweed and rotten eggs.
    6. Cleaning your teeth is a must after eating Halloween candy, but…

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    Denver Water is close to 100 years old! Take a look at our very first employees, from 1918

    October 24, 2014


    Why do you want to go to H2O Outdoors Camp?

    October 22, 2014

    Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

    2013 H2O Outdoors campers.

    2013 H2O Outdoors campers.

    “The one thing that is most interesting to me is that we can drink from any water faucet. Back in Tonga we weren’t allowed to drink from the water faucet. The water from the faucet was really bad and it could make you sick. It wasn’t a good idea at all.” – Former H2O Outdoors camper

    Twice a year, Denver Water’s Youth Education team meets up with Aurora Water and the Colorado River District at Keystone Science School in Summit County for a three-day water camp called H2O Outdoors.

    “This camp provides high school students from varied backgrounds throughout Colorado with an opportunity to learn about water in the state and all of its complexities in a fun, hands-on environment,” said Matt Bond, Denver Water’s Youth Education manager. “These students will be future decision-makers, and the camp sets them up to be experts on the state’s…

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    DOI, et. al., developing water conservation projects as part of a landmark collaborative agreement #ColoradoRiver

    October 10, 2014

    Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR

    Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR


    Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Rose Davis):

    Faced with the increasing probability of shortage on the Colorado River, municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and the Bureau of Reclamation are implementing a landmark Colorado River System Conservation program.

    Beginning today, Reclamation is soliciting water conservation project proposals from Colorado River entitlement holders in Arizona, California, and Nevada. At a later date, water users in the Upper Basin will be invited to participate in this unique agreement.

    Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority and Reclamation are providing up to $11 million to fund new Colorado River water conservation projects. The projects are intended to demonstrate the viability of cooperative, voluntary projects to reduce demand for Colorado River water. The program is soliciting project proposals from agriculture, and municipal and industrial Colorado River water entitlement holders.

    “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to find solutions in meeting the future challenges we face in water supply and demand,” said Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp. “Our goal is to put in place a suite of proactive, voluntary measures that will reduce our risk of reaching critical reservoir levels. This pilot program is a good first step toward reaching that goal and, depending upon its success, could be expanded in the future.”

    For more than a decade, a severe drought unprecedented in the last 100 years has gripped the Colorado River, reducing water levels in storage reservoirs throughout the Basin and increasing the risk of falling to critically low water levels. In July, reservoir levels in Lake Mead dipped to the lowest level since Hoover Dam was filled in 1937.

    “A decade ago, municipal and agricultural agencies in California came together to help the state permanently reduce its use of Colorado River water. The goal of this latest effort is to develop new basin-wide partnerships to expand conservation activities during this historic drought for the benefit of all Colorado River water users,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

    “With shortage looming on the Colorado River, CAP, with its partners, is taking immediate steps to protect Arizona’s Colorado River supply. The goal of this unique program is to develop new conservation programs from municipal, industrial, and agricultural water users from across the seven states which share the river,” said Pam Pickard, Board President, Central Arizona Project. “The program saves water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell for the benefit of all Colorado River water users and promotes a healthy river system.”

    All water conserved under this program will stay in the river system, helping to boost the declining reservoir levels and protecting the health of the entire river system. The municipal agencies and the federal government agree that collaborative action is needed now, to reduce the risk to water supplies, hydropower production, water quality, agricultural output, and recreation and environmental resources across the entire Colorado River basin. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, and the combined metropolitan areas served by the Colorado River represent the world?s 12th largest economy, generating more than $1.7 trillion in Gross Metropolitan Product per year.

    This first call for proposals is for Lower Basin parties. Upper Basin proposals will be requested in the future.

    “We are pleased to see the momentum established in the lower basin. We look forward to a similar process starting soon in the upper basin with our partners along the Colorado River, including The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado River District, Southwestern Water Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. Together, we will identify and fund pilot programs that demonstrate the viability of cooperative, voluntary compensated means to reduce water demand,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO Denver Water.

    Reclamation is currently requesting project proposals for 2015 and 2016 funding allocations. The due date for the responses to the solicitation is November 17, 2014. Following the two-year period, Reclamation and the municipal agencies will evaluate the effectiveness of the conservation projects funded by this program and determine if the successful programs could be expanded or extended to provide even greater protection for the Colorado River system.

    “Managing the Colorado River requires a cooperative and concerted effort between diverse stakeholders, and this pilot program furthers that collaboration and provides another tool we can use in response to the drought,” said John Entsminger, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority. “This program is the mechanism for developing a wide array of adaptable and scalable conservation projects to provide real benefit to the overall river system.”


    Denver Water sets course for 2015

    October 9, 2014

    Ashland Reservoir roof construction via Denver Water

    Ashland Reservoir roof construction via Denver Water


    Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney/Travis Thompson):

    At its meeting today, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted rate changes to fund essential repairs and upgrades to Denver Water’s system in 2015.

    The required revenues for 2015 equate to a rate increase of less than $1 per month on average for Denver residential customers and are needed to help fund a number of multi-year projects, such as replacing failing underground storage tanks and aging pipes, upgrading water treatment facilities to maintain water quality and meet new regulatory requirements, and rehabilitating Antero Dam in Park County and Marston Dam in Lakewood, Colo.

    “Like water providers across the country, Denver Water faces many challenges to ensure we are providing our customers with a clean, safe, reliable supply of water,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “From upgrading our aging facilities and staying ahead of regulatory requirements, to planning water projects in the face of climate change and much more, we are working hard to provide Denver Water customers high-quality water and reliable service every day, 24/7.”

    Effective February 2015, the revenue increase of 2.2 percent equates to a rate increase of $0.95 per month on average for Denver residential customers using 115,000 gallons annually (the average annual consumption for Denver Water’s entire PDF document service area). The amounts will vary depending upon customer water usage and whether the customer lives in Denver or is served by a suburban distributor under contract with Denver Water. Customers in Denver tend to use less than 115,000 gallons per year; suburban customers tend to use more.

    Under the 2015 rates, customers living in Denver will still pay among the lowest water rates in the metro area, and rates for suburban Denver Water residential customers will fall at or below the median among area water providers.

    “It’s all connected,” said Lochhead. “Denver Water’s infrastructure is not just pipes and reservoirs. It includes millions of acres of Colorado forests and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, which Coloradans love. Denver Water is committed to investing money and resources to continue to strengthen the health of those rivers and streams. We have a responsibility to the environment in which we operate.”

    Denver Water operates and maintains more than 3,000 miles of distribution pipe — enough to stretch from Los Angeles to New York — as well as 19 reservoirs, 22 pump stations, 30 underground storage tanks, four treatment plants and more. The water provider’s collection system covers more than 4,000 square miles and operates facilities in 12 counties in Colorado.

    Moody’s Investors Service recently upgraded Denver Water’s revenue bonds from Aa1 to Aaa, its highest rating. “Denver Water is one of only 10 utilities in the country to receive this rating,” said Lochhead. “This upgrade is a result of having a well-maintained system and strong management team focused on long-term planning. Along with receiving the highest ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, this top rating allows Denver Water to borrow money for major capital projects at a much lower cost.”

    Denver Water is a public agency funded by water rates, hydropower sales, fees for new service (tap fees), bond sales and cash reserves, not taxes. Water rates are designed to recover the costs of providing water service — including maintenance of pipes, reservoirs, pump stations and treatment plants — and also encourage efficiency by charging higher prices for increased water use. Most of Denver Water’s annual costs are fixed and do not vary with the amount of water sold.

    More Denver Water coverage here.


    How to become an eighth-grade TV star

    October 9, 2014

    Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

    Angelica Diaz in study recording 30-second commercial for Rocky Mountain PBS

    Angelica Diaz in-studio recording her conservation commercial for Rocky Mountain PBS.

    By Matt Bond, Denver Water Youth Education manager

    Inspiration strikes in unlikely places, and for Angelica Diaz the spark was water conservation.

    Last spring, Diaz, then an eighth-grade student at Kepner Middle School in Denver, entered the Helping Other People Emerge scholarship contest sponsored by Denver Water and Minority Enterprise & Educational Development, which asked students to propose novel water-saving ideas.

    The result was brilliant! Diaz, who had recently embraced being part of the team that filmed and broadcasted the daily announcements at school, put her creative video and editing skills to use on her contest submission and produced a short video touting the benefits of shorter showers and high-efficiency showerheads as simple ways to make a difference in the world.

    Diaz earned a $500 scholarship for her imaginative video, but with such a dynamic message displayed through…

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