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Exploring the dead pool

SUMMIT COUNTY – Denver Water is pondering how to get every last drop out of its reservoirs, should the drought reach extreme levels.

Including Dillon Reservoir, Denver Water owns 10 reservoirs, which it uses to supply its 1.1 million Front Range customers.

In Dillon Reservoir, about 8,000 acre-feet of water is held in an area below the Roberts Tunnel intake known as the dead pool. The reservoir’s total capacity is 254,000 acre-feet. If levels ever drop to the dead pool, the reservoir will appear as a virtual puddle.



But someday Denver Water may need even that small amount, said Marc Waage, Denver Water’s manager of raw water supply.

“We’ve been trying of think of things we could do if things get really dire – what our last resorts for water would be,” he said. “We’re not anywhere near that situation yet, but we want to be prepared. If this drought lasts many more years, what are we going to do?



“One thing we were looking at is pumping all of the water out of our reservoirs, including that part at Dillon Reservoir we can’t get through the Roberts Tunnel without putting a pump in. It’s one of those last-resort measures.”

The Roberts Tunnel transports reservoir water underneath the Continental Divide, dumping into the south branch of the South Platte River, which then feeds into Denver Water’s system.

Waage said staff has talked about creating some kind of a pump. “Whether it would be a barge or a land station pump … we’re not that far along.”

“At this point, it’s just a concept. We haven’t started designing anything. It’s something we’re looking at, but we’re a long way from it.”

Currently, Dillon Reservoir holds about 153,000 acre-feet of water. That amount, Waage said, does not include the dead pool.

“The numbers we report (in this case, 153,000) is the active capacity,” he said. “It wouldn’t be until we were at zero in our storage levels that we would be down to the dead pool.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com


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