Ruling could force more reliance on aquifers in Colo.
Written byBruce Finley, Denver Post/GW
At a time when Douglas County, Colo., communities are working to ease their reliance on aquifers, a potential game-changing project could do just the opposite.
Sun Resources is drilling deep wells to tap 1.5 million acre-feet of water in the county. The wells could pump as much as 15,000 acre-feet of water per year from aquifers at the Denver Basin, providing enough water for 30,000 houses.
Two production wells are expected to be completed this week. But at this point, the drilling is exploratory, said Gary Pierson, CEO of Sun Resources.
The Denver Post obtained documents that show 35 wells have been proposed that would distribute water to cities and communities through pipelines, as well as a massive housing development named Sterling Ranch -- a $4.3 billion project involving 12,050 houses.
According to a county judge's ruling, Sterling Ranch must secure enough water to supply all houses in the development in order to continue with the project.
Sterling Ranch has secured some water from land that the developers own as well as through contracts and water-sharing projects. But the developers are working to have 60 percent of the water they use at the ranch come from renewable resources like rivers as opposed to limited resources like aquifers.
They are also pursuing a rainwater-harvesting program that would collect runoff from roofs and recycle that for household outdoor needs like landscaping.
"What that judge's ruling did is it forces folks like us back into nonrenewable water, which is the last thing we want to do," said Harold Smethills, Sterling Ranch's managing partner.