Wednesday evening we saw the last of three Army Corps of Engineers public hearings through which the Corps received public input on the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project. Don’t worry– there’s still time to comment on the Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement, released in early June. The Corps is receiving comments through August 7.

So what is the Chatfield Reallocation Project? The Colorado Water Conservation Board with the Army Corps of Engineers is looking into using space that already exists in Chatfield Reservoir but is currently used for flood control. The idea of reallocation is to take that space and use it jointly for flood control and conservation, reallocating for up to 20,600 acre/feet of multipurpose water storage.

Why? To help satisfy growing regional water demand. According to the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, Colorado’s population is projected to increase by 65 percent by 2030 and water demand will exceed supply. The Statewide Water Supply Initiative is looking into a slew of strategies to meet this gap between water supply and demand, while a Western Resource Advocates Filling the Gap report proposes a separate portfolio of strategies– both portfolios suggest that water users and providers look at Chatfield as one potential solution.

What’s the problem? Increasing storage capacity of Chatfield would flood the popular park with 12 additional feet of water! The inundation of water would wipe out recreational facilities, old cottonwood trees, migratory bird habitat and could pose risks for the endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. It would also change fisheries and aquatic habitat.These costs, impacts and proposed mitigation measures can all be found in the Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement.

But what about mitigation and cooperation? As Amy Conklin of the Barr-Milton Watershed Association said in an article that appeared in the Highlands Ranch News Herald,

The Chatfield Reallocation project has been intensively worked on for about 20 years. It is one of the few water projects in Colorado to gain support from agricultural, municipal, environmental and recreational stakeholders. While the impacts to recreation in Chatfield State Park will be significant, they can be mitigated. The impacts to the environment will likely be a net positive because of the increase in in-stream flows.

Others have said the same thing. Jeff Shoemaker with the Greenway Foundation and the Colorado Foundation for State Parks said during a recent Colorado Foundation for Water Education tour of the South Metro area,

At the end of the day, it is my belief that we can have it all. We can have a happy and healthy Chatfield State Park

Shoemaker went on to say that the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement is an example of cooperation, where agricultural, municipal, environmental and recreational interests are coming together and sitting around a common table.

Let us know what you think about expansion at Chatfield… or better yet, let us AND the Army Corps of Engineers know!

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