- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - The federal government has signed off on a new Larimer County reservoir designed to make the water supply more reliable for 10 Front Range municipalities.

The federal permitting process for the Chimney Hollow Reservoir began in 2003. It culminated Friday when a representative from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signed a contract and environmental impact statement as county officials, mayors, water district board members and other public officials looked on.

The new reservoir, which is expected to be complete in five to seven years, will allow member communities to store more water during wet years. Many Front Range cities and water districts get their water from the Windy Gap project near Lake Granby, but water from Windy Gap can be pumped to the communities only in a year that’s not too dry or not too wet.

The 31,575-acre-foot reservoir just west of Cater Lake will cost about $273 million for the dam, reservoir and pumping facilities, according to a federal Bureau of Reclamation news release.

The event celebrated the culmination of sometimes contentious negotiations among governments and organizations on the eastern and western sides of Rocky Mountain National Park. The water will be pumped from Windy Gap to Lake Granby, on the western slope, and then to the Front Range communities on the eastern slope using an underground tunnel already in place.

“We didn’t start off in a big group hug,” Greeley Water and Sewer Board Vice Chairman Mick Todd told the assembled mayors and water officials.

Dale Rademacher, Longmont’s director of public works and natural resources, said the project is important for Longmont and surrounding communities, the Longmont Times-Call reported Saturday (https://tinyurl.com/kt6zfth ).

“The entire West is water-short, and these types of collaborative efforts are going to be important and are going to work for a wide variety of people,” Rademacher said.

Broomfield will own the most shares at about 18 percent, and Platte River Power Authority will own the second most at about 16.3 percent. The authority provides electricity to Longmont, Estes Park, Loveland and Fort Collins. Longmont has the third most shares at roughly 16.2 percent.

Platte River Power Authority General Manager Jacqueline Sargent said Chimney Hollow will make the supply of water needed for cooling during power generation more reliable. When there isn’t enough Windy Gap water available, Platte River Power Authority must buy it from other sources, which in dry years can get expensive.

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, https://timescall.com/


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