Water storage is critical for meeting the demands of Colorado's communities, agriculture, watersheds, and economy. Storage equips water managers with tools to mitigate the impact of drought, prevent floods, provide water year-round, and retime water for environmental benefit. Whether storing water above ground in reservoirs or below ground in aquifers, storage projects are an important tool for Colorado.
The Colorado Water Plan identifies thoughtful, multi-benefit water storage as an important component to achieving state goals. Water Plan Grants and Water Project Loans are available to support projects such as: the development of additional storage, artificial recharge into aquifers, and dredging existing reservoirs to restore the reservoirs' full decreed storage capacity for multi-beneficial projects, among others.
The following three projects highlight large-scale storage projects funded in partnership with the CWCB.
Animas La Plata Project
The Animas-La Plata Project (A-LP) is a water project that was planned and constructed to fulfill the water rights of the two Indian tribes that are federally recognized within Colorado – the Ute Mountain Ute and the Southern Ute tribes.
Completed in 2010, the A-LP is a large water project built by the Bureau of Reclamation south of the town of Durango, Colorado. The water project consists of a pumping plant on the Animas River located just south of the town, a conveyance pipeline and a 120,000 acre-foot reservoir (aka Lake Nighthorse). The CWCB purchased a portion of the water on behalf of the State of Colorado for approximately $35 million and is a member of the Animas La Plata Operations, Maintenance & Replacement Association (ALPOMR) Management Committee. The CWCB conducted a study to explore the water supply, demand and marketability of the water, compact issues, exchange potential, O&M costs, funding options and other applicable issues. The CWCB is currently under contract to sell a portion of the water to the La Plata Archuleta Water District.
The CWCB has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on two reallocation projects; the Chatfield Reallocation Project, and the Bear Creek Lake Reallocation Project. Both projects are in the Metro and South Platte Basins, and provide additional storage for various beneficial uses.
Chatfield Reallocation Project
The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project came about as the result of a growing demand for water in Colorado’s Front Range and on northeast Colorado farms. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) determined Chatfield Reservoir can accommodate an additional 20,600 acre feet of water storage for water supply without compromising its flood control function. This additional storage space will be used by municipal and agricultural water providers to help meet the diverse needs of the state.
Please see the short video for an overview of the project.
For more information, please visit the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project website.
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Bear Creek Lake Reallocation Project
The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have partnered to conduct a feasibility study on whether Bear Creek Lake can store more water for future use by Coloradans. This study will investigate the feasibility of reallocating reservoir storage for water supply, considering flood protection; safety; environmental, recreational, and economic impacts; and impacts to other resources from additional storage.