Castle Rock’s town council and utilities commission welcomed a full house in a public meeting to hear proposals from water providers who hope to tap into a service contract worth millions.
Years after launching an effort to plan for a long-term source of renewable water, Castle Rock put out an invitation to hear from water providers that might be able to compete with the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency program, long touted as the solution to meet the needs of Castle Rock and several south-metro area municipalities.
Among the water providers that submitted bids were Renew Strategies, headed by former Gov. Bill Owens; Stillwater Resources, which acts as a broker to match providers with municipalities like Castle Rock; and United Water, which serves public water districts such as the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District and the South Adams County Water District.
WISE, a project from the South Metro Water Supply Authority, was not among the providers that responded to the request for proposal. WISE has long aimed to buy its water from Aurora and Denver and store it in the Rueter-Hess reservoir. The Army Core of Engineers earlier this year notified Rueter-Hess officials that the plan violates a provision of the reservoir’s federal permit, and town councils from Aurora and Denver have yet to approve a proposal for the WISE project.
In a joint letter dated Sept. 8, the directors from the Denver and Aurora water districts notified Castle Rock officials that they would not be able to submit a response to Castle Rock’s request for proposal.
“Given the continued dialogue on the WISE Water Delivery Agreement, the respective negotiations teams of Aurora and Denver Water have not had the opportunity to fully brief their respective council and board on the details of that agreement,” Mark T. Pifher, director of Aurora Water ,and David Little, director of planning for Denver Water, wrote in response to Castle Rock’s bid request. “This is necessary in order to seek council and board input on the significant policy and legal issues embodied herein.”
Ron Redd, director of the Castle Rock utilities department and SMWSA board president, told councilmembers WISE should have a proposal ready in the coming weeks. The Castle Rock bid invitation asked all providers to include an option to integrate their proposal with any future WISE proposal.
The responses included a proposal from Renew Strategies to acquire underground water from the Lost Creek Basin for between $23,000 and $24,000 per acre foot, plus infrastructure costs of up to $75 million; Stillwater’s option to purchase 4,000 acre feet of Boxelder farm water rights for about $21,000 per acre foot; and United Water’s proposal to sell South Platte surface water to Castle Rock for $23,850 per acre foot, which includes about $9 million in infrastructure costs.
Those in attendance at the joint meeting Sept. 14 between town council and the town’s utilities commission packed the town council hearing room and included representatives from Douglas County and neighboring water districts. Redd asked councilmembers to submit any questions to town staff as analysis of the proposals begins.
“Three years ago we had no idea how we were going to solve our long-term water plan,” Redd said. “Tonight we have three presentations from folks competing and hopefully soon a fourth coming up. I don’t want that to get lost in the moment, it’s a good night.”