A String of Pearls


A forward thinking approach to water conservation for the St. Vrain River


Erik Wilkinson (SVATU Conservation Committee) and Barbara Luneau (SVATU President) met with Sean Cronin, the Executive Director of the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District on August 20, 2012.  Mr. Cronin asked for meeting to discuss the concept for a potential, long range project for managing water resources along the St. Vrain River.  No formal plans are in place at this time, rather, Mr. Cronin is working to get inputs from all the stakeholders before moving to the next step.

The conceptis to take advantage of existing and future development of gravel mines along the St. Vrain River with a long term goal in mind. As gravel mining is completed, the pits could be reclaimed so that they might maximize the potential for water storage.  With advanced planning, that considers the necessary facilities and infrastructure (pumps, pipes, hydro-electric generation, etc) the individual pits have the potential to be operated jointly or separately, such that water could be either stored or released into the river as needed.  Over time a series of these storage lakes would be created between Lyons and I-25(A “String of Pearls”).  In aggregate, the water storage could be significant and provide a manageable resource for meeting stakeholders needs.

This approach has several advantages that align well with larger TU goals.  This project would Protect and Conserve our mountain streams by providing water storage on the plains.  The storage facilities would be engineered in our urban corridor, an area already compromised by human activity, not by putting up another dam in the mountains.  Instead, this water project would Restore a greenway along the river and could assure minimum flows along the river.  A mix of public and restricted access would be implemented; public access for recreation such as fishing and kayaking and restricted access for animal habitat (birds, fish, etc).

The project is very long term; it will take one to two generations for this project, should it go forward, to be complete.  Nothing related to water in Colorado happens quickly.  However, the project is innovative in its approach and is thus worthy of serious consideration.  Ms. Luneau and Mr. Wilkinson strongly encouraged Mr. Cronin to continue soliciting inputs from the other stakeholders and to keep SVATU informed as the project matures.  If you would like further information or wish to discuss the concept further please contact Mr. Sean Cronin at sean.cronin@svldwcd.org <mailto:sean.cronin@svldwcd.org> or (303) 772-4060.


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