Securing a Better Water Future For The City Above Clouds

Major WP Reservoir Development Plan Gets the Green Light

Trevor Phipps

The city of Woodland Park may have finally hit the jackpot in its quest for more water to handle future droughts and tough times.

Water, and the legal availability of this resource, considered gold in Colorado, has often sparked fierce political battles throughout the state and even locally.  The town years ago adopted a somewhat controversial water tap allocation plan to guard against the possibility of eventually going dry.

Concerns over water have dominated virtually every request for a major development in Woodland Park.

As Woodland Park has grown over the last decade, it has become apparent that the city’s H2O resources are limited. In order to find new ways to more efficiently provide water for new homes and businesses coming into the city, officials have been working on a plan to build a new reservoir for the last 10 years.

Now, it appears this effort has struck gold, or at least is set on a clear path.

The Woodland Park City Council recently voted unanimously to approve a development agreement between the city of Woodland Park and the pathway to the Rockies Council, Boy Scouts of America for the development of the Glen Aspen Reservoir Project.

Now that the plan has been approved, the next step is to start the engineering and design process of the reservoir.

Currently, the city only has one reservoir and the water that it can’t provide gets outsourced from three other bodies of water, located outside the area. For example, the city recently used a donation from Andrew Wommack Ministries to purchase shares of water from Twin Lakes Reservoir located north of Buena Vista.

But once the new reservoir gets built, the city will be able to provide more water for future growth on its own. In fact, the new reservoir will greatly increase the city’s water capacity once its construction is finalized and it will reduce the amount of water the city has to purchase from other resources in the future.

No Increase in Projected Build-out Population

According to the ordinance’s staff report, the addition of the reservoir will not increase the city’s build- out population, but it will help secure the future. The new reservoir will help the city “be able to withstand dry years, plan accordingly and be responsible with its water resource.”

According to Woodland Park’s Utilities Director Kip Wiley, the reservoir will be used to store augmentation water locally and its capacity will hold six times the water the city’s current reservoir holds. “When full, the reservoir will hold around 300 to 350-acre feet,” Wiley explained. “We use around that much every year currently. Our current reservoir is 55-acre feet, so we will turn our existing reservoir over in one summer month.”

The new reservoir is planned to be built on property currently owned by the Rockies Council, Boy Scouts of America located near the city’s current reservoir just east of the Woodland Park city limits off of Loy Creek Road. And instead of purchasing the property from the Boy Scouts, the city will provide water services to the Boy Scout camp in lieu of payment for the land.

“We will provide the boy scout camp up to 40,000 gallons a year for water supply with a water treatment plant operating eight months out of the year,” Wiley said. “We will also be adding some fire protection for the Boy Scouts in the means of non-potable water from the reservoir with a couple of fire hydrants that the city will own and maintain.”

Wiley was first asked by Councilwoman Carrol Harvey where the initial $1 million funding for engineering and design would come from. Wiley said that the first $1 million and hopefully more will come out of money saved. The rest of the project will be funded through grants and loans.

Councilman Robert Zuluaga also pointed out that the general public will not have access to the reservoir, but that the boy scouts will be able to use it for limited recreation purposes. Zuluaga asked if the boy scouts were assuming the liability and if there was a way to tell if they were damaging the water with their activities.

The Boy Scout ranch will have to have their own insurance to cover any incidents and their recreation will be limited to only boats with electric motors allowed on the reservoir, Wiley said. The contract makes an exception for electric motor boats just so access across the body of water is faster in the case of an emergency.

“From a water quality standpoint, basically they will be fishing on it with non-motorized boats and that’s it,” Wiley said.

A Solid Plan for the Future

Councilman Rusty Neal applauded the efficiency of the plans for the new reservoir and due to the elevation of the area, the proposed site will save the city money. “One of the great things about this site is that it is just downstream from our current reservoir, meaning we can fill it via gravity about halfway,” Wiley said. “We will still have to pump about half of the water into it.”

The city will own the land part of the land on the 200-plus acre Boy Scout Ranch and they will add a parking lot and roads that can enable large trucks to enter and exit the property.