Ground Truth: In the News

Forest Service Solicits Comments on Proposed Dam Near Holy Cross Wilderness

The proposed dam would destroy 10,000-year-old wetlands and encroach on the wilderness area

Homestake Creek in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains flows through wetlands that support biodiversity and recharge groundwater. The wetlands would be destroyed by a dam proposed by Aurora and Colorado Springs that would divert water from the headwaters of the Colorado River to the east side of the Continental Divide.

By Grant Stringer, Aurora Sentinel

Conservationists and development boosters alike can now weigh in on the next phase of a city government-backed plan to build a new reservoir and divert water to Aurora taps.

The White River National Forest opened a public comment period last week concerning the next phase of a would-be reservoir project dubbed the Whitney Reservoir. Water authorities in Colorado Springs and Aurora plan to divert water near the Vail Valley — normally destined for the Colorado River — to the Front Range by way of pumps and tunnels.

Greg Baker, Aurora Water’s manager of public relations, said in November the Whitney Reservoir could eventually hold between 9,000 acre-feet and 19,000 acre-feet of water.

For comparison, Cherry Creek Reservoir stores more than 134,000 acre-feet. One acre-foot of water can supply three households in Aurora for a year, Baker said.

Members of the public can now comment on a possible next phase of the project: assessing whether various points in Homestake Creek, which flows from mountain sources near Red Cliff in Eagle County, could support a dam and reservoir.

Aurora Water and its southern counterpart, Colorado Springs Utilities, applied for a Special Use Permit to do so. Geologists would conduct ground-level seismic analyses of the ground below and also drill up to 150 feet below the surface. Currently, the operation proposes ten drilling sites.

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15 comments on this post

  1. Steven Rekuc says:

    This seems like a destruction of the environment for just a little bit of water to be diverted out of the appropriate river basin where it began. Please don’t destroy Colorado with more dams.

  2. Owen Kelsall says:

    I strongly oppose this project. Please do not destroy forest that is so valuable to such a variety of animal life and human recreation. The front range needs to reduce it’s water consumption instead of increase what it takes. Eventually there will be nothing left to dam or collect from and there will still not be enough water if this trend of use by diversion continues. Please stop this for good!

  3. Jordan Winters says:

    Please, please, please do not dam Homestake Creek (again). I live in Minturn, 10 minutes from this beautiful area and would be devastated if this dam and reservoir go through. I recreate in the Homestake Valley (hiking, climbing, fishing, camping) all of the time and am continually in awe of the beauty and wild spaces out there. I am also and avid river boater and do not wants to see flows in the Eagle River or the Colorado River affected in anyway. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

  4. Kerry McCarthy says:

    It is past due that municipalities, in this case, Aurora and CS, need to address growth, implement water restrictions that preserve their existing water, mandate xeriscaping, and source their water from their own areas rather than poach from mountains and the water that other areas and ecosystems rely on. Do not approve! Make these communities work harder to come up with solutions for water issues rather simply take more from a diminishing resource.

  5. I find this request absolutely insane. If Aurora and Colorado Springs needs more water they should stop building and destroying their own wetlands and ecosystems but I’ll be damned if their gonna destroy ours. The Colorado River is already at an unhealthy point and this right into it. The wetlands they would destroy are over 10,000 years old and vital to our natural habitat. Please don’t let this atrocious act happen.

  6. The last transmountain project in Colorado was 45 years ago. This is old technology. The water on the Colorado River is the life blood for the western portion of the state and provides some $18 billion in revenues from cold water fisheries, boating and wildlife values. The farming and ranching industry offers similar values.

    Jerry Mallett


  7. Kait says:

    No! Do not approve! If there is a water issue in Aurora and CS then do something to implement water restrictions. There can be other ways to save water and be more environmentally conscious. Now is the time to think of new opportunities to save our Earth. This is such a gorgeous, peaceful spot. A lot of mountain dwellers love this area and it would be devastating to see it destroyed.

  8. Nicholas Blake says:

    This is one of the few areas where I see moose regularly. There is significant historic relics from the 10th mountain division areas and some of the best wilderness in the state in this area. A dam and reservoir will have a long list of negative impacts in the area. This project should seriously look at other areas.

    It seems like too much work and incredibly complicated for only 9000 homes. There are other, more modern, approaches to water on the front range.

  9. Amy Riddle says:

    As a resident of Minturn, I find this proposal of a dam to be very distressing! Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Destroying wilderness area for additional urban consumption and waste feels like a violation of Colorado values. Please reconsider other options!

  10. Rudi Baldwin says:

    This would be devastating to a pristine drainage, famous around the world. Please sign and support

  11. Garrett Tatreau says:

    No thank you !!!!!!

  12. Jacob Foley says:

    Please do not build a dam here. The Homestake Basin is such an amazing and beautiful wilderness that hundreds, if not thousands, of Front Range citizens travel to each year. This would be devastating to not only the Coloradoans that live here, but generations of Coloradoans to come. What will be left when we destroy the last of our wild spaces? What will make Colorado such a special place to live, once all of the habitats and ecosystems are gone?

  13. Winston Heuga says:

    This would be devastating to a pristine drainage, famous around the world. Please sign and support

  14. Christy Schneider says:

    Please do not build a dam here! This is a delicate eco system. Not to mention the danger to anybody living downstream from the dam should it fail. Glen Canyon Dam anyone? We should be doing everything we can to preserve natural habitats on a planet that is already struggling because of the irresponsible actions of human beings. If there is a water issue in Aurora and Colorado Springs then maybe set some restrictions or stop building up the area! Please reconsider destroying a whole eco system in favor of building a dam.

  15. Robert Kalkowski says:

    1) I oppose the Whitney Reservoir project and any preliminary soil bore drilling in the wetlands.
    2) I have owned a home in Colorado Springs since July 1985; 36-years now,
    3) There was no water conservation management then and only the last few years has the City done any water conservation management.
    4) When I first moved here, the word ‘…xeriscaping…’ was unknown in City planning. The City only began xeriscaping efforts in the mid-1990s.
    Matter of fact, I when to a Colorado Springs Utilities public meeting in late 1990s, where one of the leadership employees said, “If we don’t use up our minimum Blue River requirements; we’ll use that source!”
    The City was still watering roadway medians and did not have water saving water closets written into their building codes.
    5) The City has just now, in the last 2-years, done anything major about its storm water runoff and only because of downstream law suits and legal actions, plus EPA fines.

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