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My Recent Comments
The Reallocation Project at Chatfield is not a done deal and, very likely, it will be tied up in litigation for several years. There's a great deal of spin on this project, and Littleton residents need to consider whether the related costs are worth the change inherent in the Army Corp of Engineers' (CoE) plan.
For instance: (1) This project will provide about 3.5% of the water the proponents say they will need in the year 2050. These water providers have junior water rights, which means IF there is extra water behind the dam, after Denver Water receives its senior share, that extra water can only be stored at Chatfield for 3 out of 10 years. The water must be released so that users with senior rights downstream can be accommodated.
THAT LEAVES US WITH A GREATLY ALTERED PARK AND A NEAR EMPTY RESERVOIR 7 OUT OF 10 YEARS. Chatfield will be much like Pueblo State Park which has very few trees in a semi-arid climate.
(2) CoE's report states that there will be 70 additional days each year when NO water will be released from the dam. This statement is inconsistent with promises of "a minimum of 10 cubic feet per second of water flowing.” Apart from the obvious impact on wildlife, how will 70 extra days of “no release” impact the water treatment plants that discharge below the dam and into the S. Platte? They count on water from Chatfield to dilute the waste in order to meet EPA standards. How much will it cost to revamp these water treatment plants to meet with federal requirements?
(3) The CoE and water providers have asserted that the changes they make to Chatfield State Park will be "mitigated." BEWARE the use of legalese. Mitigate means "lessened," not “replaced” or “made whole” as many non-lawyers believe. They've promised new bathrooms and picnic tables, but there's no plan to irrigate trees and shrubs to replace the ones that will be removed. They're not simply moving things around; they are deflating the character and recreational value of this park.
(4) The plan calls for the removal of ALL the trees and vegetation from Kingfisher Bridge to the current water's edge. The S. Platte River will be backed up 0.7 mile from Kingfisher Bridge upstream toward the Audubon Center, thereby mandating the removal of all trees that run along this one-of-kind river walkway.
(5) There are 587 ACRES OF TREES scheduled for demolition, not 45 acres as local press has reported. But don't take my word for it. Check out the metal posts with pink ribbons that mark the proposed high water levels around the park. Then you'll understand that the reallocation project will essentially gut this state park as well as destroy irreplaceable wildlife habitat - for a slim chance at a little water once in awhile.
Brock Norris is quoted as saying: “I think that the long-term water security for Highlands Ranch far outweighs the 500 acres (of recreational space affected), even though it is a concern.”
Seems too easy for Mr. Norris to say that securing 3.5% of the water needed for the year 2050 is worth far more than a park with 1.5 million visitors each year; one of three Colorado parks that generates a profit; a unique wildlife habitat that serves threatened species, migratory birds like eagles, pelicans, cormorants, herons et al; a forest-like setting for boating, water-skiing, ballooning, horseback riding, biking, fishing, birding, etc.
There’s something about his comparison that just rings false. If someone really valued such a little bit of water as much as Mr. Norris infers, wouldn’t he cherish the water he has right on tap, right now, more highly? Wouldn’t he hoard, or at least conserve, the water he has because it’s more precious than the Priceless?
Or does he just not value the many things that today’s Chatfield gives Colorado?
Or quite probably, the reallocation proponents prefer the Drowning Chatfield option because it’s the least creative and the cheapest plan to implement.
When I first heard about the plan to store an extra 12 vertical feet of water behind the Chatfield dam, my first thought was: "Oh, more room to play." I soon learned that the exact opposite is true.
This is a very bad idea which promises "ZERO DEPENDABLE YIELD" while it rips the heart out of one of Colorado’s most used parks. Please contact your local officials and tell them we need a comprehensive water plan that makes Water Conservation an equal partner in Colorado’s future.
2 months ago