After more than three decades of collaboration between federal and state entities and local water providers, Chatfield Reservoir will begin storing up to an additional 20,600 acre-feet of water this spring.
The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project (Project), which recently received final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is an effort to help meet Colorado’s water supply and demand gap. The Project brings environmental, agricultural, and outdoor recreational benefits along with new, critical multi-purpose water storage capacity for growing front range communities including Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock, and Castle Pines.
“This Project addresses the critical need for reallocating storage space to meet our water supply and demand gap in Colorado while providing important wildlife habitat and increasing South Platte River flows through the Denver metro area,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs. “The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project is a prime example of federal, state, and local collaboration and would not have been possible without the support of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, Douglas County, water providers, and members of the nonprofit community bringing this important storage project to the finish line.”
The Project involved rebuilding portions of Chatfield State Park to accommodate the increased water levels and completing a number of projects aimed at improving wildlife and aquatic habitat. Two properties in Douglas County outside of Chatfield State Park will also be preserved to compensate for bird habitat impacted by the Project.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander, Col. John Hudson said, “This project is a great example of federal, state and local authorities working together to address vital water supply issues along the Front Range. The higher authorized lake level will provide greater water storage and increased recreational opportunity for the residents of Douglas County and the State of Colorado. It’s very rewarding having the opportunity to be part of such a great project.”
Modifications to state park amenities include the floating marina, boat ramps, the swim beach, bike trails, parking lots, tree thinning, and forest floor clean up on walking trails. Onsite environmental mitigation included restoring Plum Creek and the South Platte, two of the reservoir’s primary tributaries, to control erosion and improve habitat. The Project also includes a dedicated “environmental pool” which will provide stream flow through the metro reach of the South Platte, during historically drier times of the year.
“Not only will the environmental pool improve recreational and water quality downstream of Chatfield, but the releases will also be utilized for irrigation of family farms and livestock operations in the South Platte valley, which are vital to Colorado’s economy,” said Randy Ray, Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Company Board President and Executive Director of Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.
Totaling $171 million, this Project was funded by the water providers and the State of Colorado with a significant portion financed through the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) loan program. Colorado’s bipartisan Congressional delegation has long supported the project and worked to secure Federal funding and project approvals.