Breckenridge to continue reservoir studies |

Breckenridge to continue reservoir studies

Jane Stebbins
Summit Daily/Kara K. PearsonPreliminary studies indicate Sawmill Reservoir between Peaks 8 and 9 in Breckenridge could be expanded to accommodate an additional 25 acre-feet of water. Town officials hope to secure more water storage to buffer against future drought years.

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council gave the go-ahead to an engineering firm to proceed with more in-depth analysis of expanding Sawmill Reservoir and building additional water storage facilities north of town.

The town council decided to examine its water storage capabilities after witnessing the devastating effects of the 2002 drought.

Breckenridge water attorney Glenn Porzak told town council members last month that the town of Breckenridge could conceivably store an additional 400 acre-feet of water based on the rights the town holds and the land where that water could be captured. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons of water, or the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land to the depth of one foot.

Geotechnical Environmental Water Resource Engineering (GEI) of Englewood, a firm that specializes in water infrastructure, outlined a variety of places the town could construct water storage facilities. Currently, the town stores its water in the Goose Pasture Tarn in the town of Blue River.

Porzak said the three areas better suited to store water include Block 11 – commonly known as the airport property – McCain Placer north of County Road 3 along Highway 9 and an expansion of the Sawmill Reservoir between Peaks 8

and 9.

The council agreed last week to forge ahead with more analysis of the sites. Those studies will determine where bedrock is on the McCain and Block 11 parcels and the possible aesthetic effects of a reservoir and dam – or even a series of smaller reservoirs – there.

“You’re talking about plopping in a very industrial facility in a place you want to keep aesthetic,” Porzak said of a dam on the McCain parcel.

If the town decides to forge ahead with a reservoir on the McCain site, officials there will have to file a water augmentation plan. Water sources for McCain include 50 acre-feet of water Porzak recently secured from Colorado Springs, excess Hill Ranch and Benson Ditch water that’s currently linked to the golf course and Windy Gap and Clinton Reservoir water that isn’t used to refill Goose Pasture Tarn.

Additionally, it is possible Summit County and Vail Resorts might be interested in contributing water rights as project participants.

On the Sawmill site, the study will determine what kinds of hydrological and environmental issues the town could face if they choose to enlarge the 36.9 acre-foot Sawmill Reservoir and evaluate whether the existing dam could hold the additional 25 acre-feet proposed.

“Sawmill is a great location,” Porzak said. “You can consolidate your existing storage, it’s out of sight, it’s a recreational amenity, you can have direct releases into the Maggie (Pond) … This is the one that excites me the most. The only downside is if the cost is horrendous.”

According to a preliminary study, there are drainage and soil movement problems below the existing reservoir, and the reservoir itself leaks. The area below the dam comprises residential and commercial properties, so a detailed geotechnical investigation will need to be conducted before a dam engineering study is done.

GEI will also do a preliminary cost analysis for each site.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User