County gets WISE on water

Officials aim to secure leftover renewable acre-feet

Posted

Douglas County is diving into the water game.

With an eye on the leftover water made available to the 10 members of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership, the county commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Denver Water, Aurora Water and the WISE Partnership to negotiate for the rights to 2,725 acre-feet of renewable water per year.

Through the initial agreement, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide 7,275 acre-feet of fully treated water annually to the 10 WISE participants and deliver it in phases, starting in 2016. The 10 entities — who are all part of the larger South Metro Water Supply Authority — have agreed to fund new infrastructure that will move the water from Aurora’s Binney Water Purification Facility to its end locations.

The caveat was that Aurora and Denver made 10,000 acre-feet per year available, leaving 2,725 acre-feet available.

“If we don’t put a placeholder on this water, it will be lost,” said Tim Murrell, the county’s water resource planner. “Both Denver and Aurora were pretty clear that this is a one-time deal, that they are not going to come back and offer more water again.”  

The county has until Dec. 31 to iron out an option agreement with Aurora, Denver and WISE that Murrell says will involve negotiating a reservation fee, a time frame, a method of delivery for the water, and who the recipients of the water will be.

Once that agreement is in place, it will come back in front of the county commissioners for final approval.

“We wanted to make sure that the difference between the amount of water that the water providers have subscribed to and the amount available through the WISE project does not go away,” said Commissioner Jill Repella.

While the county itself is not a water provider, it appears to be making a concerted effort to help regional users transition from nonrenewable to renewable water.

“I think this is a wonderful role for the county to play,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “The option really helps the region in two ways.

“One, it helps potentially secure renewable water for providers and individual well-users that aren’t part of the WISE project. Two, it potentially helps secure needed water for those that are part of the WISE project that those providers just can’t finance at the current time.”

The 10 WISE participants include Centennial Water and Sanitation District, Cottonwood Water and Sanitation District, Dominion Water and Sanitation District, Inverness Water and Sanitation District, Meridian Metro District, Parker Water and Sanitation District, Pinery Water and Wastewater District, Rangeview Metropolitan District, Stonegate Village Metro District, and the Town of Castle Rock.