Dillon Reservoir water for Breck?
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Sanitation District officials are toying with the idea of pumping water from Dillon Reservoir at Farmer’s Korner back to the Iowa Hill Wastewater Treatment Facility on Airport Road to help with low water flow problems in the Blue River.The 17 cubic feet a second (cfs) of water brought back to Breckenridge would boost minimum streamflow in the Blue River, particularly in the winter when there’s rarely enough water to meet state requirements for minimum flows.It also would further dilute toxic minerals that flow out of French Creek, replenish wells, improve animal and fish habitat and give the town the opportunity to exchange up to 4.5 cfs of water for other purposes.The proposal – which has yet to raise red flags even among Denver Water and Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) officials – would bring numerous benefits to all those along the Upper Blue River, sewer system supervisor Andy Carlberg told the Breckenridge Town Council last week.Denver Water owns Dillon Reservoir and the CWCB administers minimum streamflows.The proposal was originally met with questions from entities such as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Division of Water Resources, Denver Water and the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past seven months, however, those questions have been answered and fears have been allayed, Carlberg said.
“It’s so simple,” Carlberg said. “I was expecting red flags to go up somewhere. But in meeting with the big boys, the ones who could stop the project, there are no issues. We’ve had nothing but complete support.”The legalityThe town has the legal rights to build a pipe or series of pipes from the river below the streamflow gauge at the Blue River inlet at the reservoir up to its wastewater treatment plant at the base of Iowa Hill.The wastewater treatment plant at the corner of Swan Mountain Road and Highway 9 releases 4.5 cfs of effluent into Dillon Reservoir. The town has water rights to an additional 12.5 cfs more and, in the past, has used it to further dilute the effluent flowing into the lake.By taking that 12.5 cfs and the 4.5 cfs of effluent and pumping it back to Iowa Hill, the effluent would be further diluted and the water would again return to the reservoir, fulfilling the requirement to provide Denver Water with all the water to which it is legally entitled.The issue came to the attention of wastewater treatment officials in the past few years when residents have put their homes on sanitary sewer systems but remained on wells.
Prior to that, the septic systems would replenish the water table, but with water now being diverted to waste treatment plants via the sewer systems, many wells are going dry.”Water is a major issue when we have people in Lakeview Meadows where one house has a dry well and the neighbor is watering their lawn because they bought water rights,” Carlberg said.More water for the riverThe project would pump water up to the Iowa Hill plant – and could be extended to the confluence of French Creek and the Blue River or even Sawmill Reservoir near Four O’clock Road or the Maggie Pond at the Village at Breckenridge.All would put more water in the river, potentially providing better recreational activities and keeping water in the stream year-round. Additionally, Carlberg noted, the town could use that water to fill a reservoir it hopes to build on a parcel of land north of Coyne Valley Road north of town.One of the next steps, Carlberg said, is to determine how to control the water so it doesn’t provide free water to other water right holders, such as the Vidler water company.
“This would legalize their full augmentation plan,” Carlberg said. “They’d sit back and say, ‘Thank you.’ But there are ways to control it.”Town officials also would like to work with the Board of County Commissioners to help it with its water augmentation plan in the Upper Blue Basin.A project this large always comes with a price tag – this one is estimated to be about $8 million.The town could apply for a loan with the Colorado Water and Power Authority – the same entity that gave the town and county the OK to issue bonds, if needed, for the B&B Mines land. The town is already on their waiting list in case the town decides to proceed with the project.Grants are available, as well, and customers who opt to hook up to the water or sanitation system could also be charged to help recoup costs.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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