Image Link 08/29/2017

Elbert County Rural Water Supply Study Workshop #3, August 29, 2017

Meeting called to order at 6:33 by Will Koger.
Approximate attendance 65-70
Forsgren Associates, Inc., Leif Lindahl, Project Manager
Commissioners Richardson and Thayer were in attendance.
2050 is the timeline that the study is targeting.
Primarily focused on the NW part of the county as well as Kiowa/Elizabeth.
Draft to be presented to BOCC, followed by comments to lead to a final report.

Placeholder Picture

All data is preliminary in nature, conceptual in nature…##Editors note—I am classifying this and many other comments tonight as “damage control” for the apparently inadvertent inclusion of proposed pipeline routes in the presentation made to the County Commissioners last week.

—Water Import Systems
—Reuse Water Systems
—Available Groundwater Volumes
—prototypical well analysis
—Alternatives for future study
—cost estimates and analysis of various possibilities.

2050 projected Water Demand of 9005 Acre-feet per year—##Editor’s note…an acre foot of water is sufficient to supply the needs of 2-3 families for one year.

Prototypical Well Analysis:


##Editor’s note—-less than a 7% difference from most expensive to least expensive plan—hardly a strong economic argument to give up our current system of well and septic which 98% of the residents utilize.

There was a recommendation to continue groundwater level testing year after year to measure effect of other counties’ usage and how it would impact our supply over a much longer period than the three year study.

Q and A:

—Q—what is source of supply information? Is the amount of water (54 million acre feet) represent only the aquifers under Elbert County? A—USGS model was used for sourcing: the amounts are only the amount of water in the aquifers beneath Elbert County.

—Q—Are the Upper and Lower Dawson aquifers over-allocated? A—not sure.

—Q—what if we don’t grow to 60k population per the assumptions? A—Was not part of study to deal with any other population numbers. Projected state-wide shortage of 500k acre feet by 2050…If the county is a proponent of measured growth, the future population estimates may not be accurate. ##Editor’s note—this certainly calls into question the usefulness of the study, since it is quite dependent on a growth in population of approximately 2.5 times the current population in just over 30 years.

—Q—no reference that a pipeline goes both ways, meaning that water could be exported utilizing a pipeline…thoughts? Also, on renewable water, did you factor in absorption and evaporation. A—no current information about water being exported now. Evaporation and absorption has been considered. Everyone is interested in renewable water, not groundwater. Forsgren received an inventory of water uses and infrastructure prior to the study. ++Grant Thayer (one of the commissioners in attendance) added that there doesn’t appear to be any need for a pipeline in the foreseeable future (not in the next 50 years in his words). We can probably only recover 35% of the available water. The current three commissioners have committed that no pipelines will be approved. Reuse has also been subject of much discussion among the commissioners and there is strong support for reuse in any new developments by the commissioners. ##Editor’s note—while this sounded reassuring, it may also have been part of the attempt to undo the pipeline routes that were clearly shown one week earlier in a report to the BOCC…time will tell.

—Q—How can we get more specific info about population growth areas with a more accurate model? A—get additional, future grants to improve study so that it is more responsive to population needs. ++Grant Thayer—our budget process is trying to find a way to keep us current. Working on a policy for reuse of water now at the county level…developers will pay for this.

—Q—What is the assurance that the assumptions are accurate and supportable? A- info came from DOLA. Q—will prototypical well term be defined in the final report? A—yes.

—Q—your plan a week ago showed pipelines, why is there nothing in this presentation? Also, cost numbers are off from one week ago by approximately $100 million; why the differences? A—showed potential solutions conceptually. If you import water, you need a source. Reservoir was most likely source of supply. Presentation did show pipeline from Reuter-Hess into county, however, it was conceptual and in the future. As to the difference in costs, the commissioners asked them to tighten the numbers, resulting in the downward modification of costs—we are still working on the numbers. ++Grant Thayer—conceptual pipeline is only as an insurance policy…his personal opinion is that chance of pipeline being built is very small due to economics—it won’t pay. ##Editor’s note—again, this is reassuring to an extent, but only time will tell.

—Q—when is end day for study per the grant? A—October.

—Q—How many counties/communities use the aquifers? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know more detailed info? A—350,000 people depend on the aquifers—Douglas and Arapahoe primarily in addition to Elbert. 96% of aquifers are being used by other than Elbert County.

—Q—seems like growth has been presented as inevitable…Elbertonians don’t want the projected growth.and can push back. Fracking has not been talked about as an impact on this study…has this been taken into account? A—looked into COGA numbers, but drilling trends don’t support a large impact…but that could change with future changes in the oil/gas industry as it relates to Elbert County.

—Q—well study does not show any significant reduction in water levels…does this have an impact? A—longer term is needed to make more accurate judgements.

—Q—if you look at the bore hole on the fairgrounds the water level has declined over the years. It would be useful to include that information in the study. A—the bore hole does show declines…there was no indication from Forsgren if it would be included in the final report.

##Final Editor’s Notes—while the presentation was professional and Forsgren is certainly a knowledgeable company with the proper qualifications, the study is very general in nature. It will be somewhat limited in its usefulness and applicability in the coming years as we plan for whatever growth and the resulting impact on our non-renewable, FINITE aquifers. Periodic updates would appear to be a requirement or we may as well put this report on the same pile that many other reports have landed in over the years in Elbert County.

—Jim Duvall