Water Resources Strategic Master Plan
Accomplishments and proposed projects: the 2021-2026 update
A major reason Castle Rock Water is efficient and successful is because of extensive planning. The Water Resources Strategic Master Plan is one of the department's primary plans to ensure a strong water future for our community. Originally developed in 2006, after the impact of a major drought had leaders thinking about the future, the plan has been updated over the years. In 2021, an open house and an online survey were available for customer input. Almost 400 responded and your comments were heard. Most noted were the many suggestions for additional conservation measures, many of which are currently part of our plan. These comments confirm customer's support of how Castle Rock Water is strategizing for the future.
Learn more about the Water Resources Strategic Master Plan
Castle Rock Water has made amazing progress, advancing on the overarching goal of achieving 75% renewable water by 2050. Click on the tab to find a synopsis of those accomplishments and the anticipated plan for the next five years.
Protecting non-renewable groundwater
The deep underground aquifers still account for a primary source of supply for Castle Rock (as well as most South Metro communities). This source is non-renewable, is slowly being mined out and takes generations to recharge. It must be used efficiently and protected as a long term drought supply.
- Within the past five years, Castle Rock Water built four more deep groundwater wells to ensure access to this supply.
- A meticulous deep groundwater well rehabilitation program has been funded and put in place to increase yields, ensure efficiencies and prolong the life of these wells.
- Continue a regular and robust well rehabilitation and maintenance program.
- Identify timeline and funding for repair and replacement of existing Denver Basin and alluvial wells.
- Improve and expand the Bell Mountain water treatment plant to serve Bell Mountain, Crystal Valley, Ridge Estates and other potential Castle Rock Water customers.
Utilize local renewable sources
Plum Creek Water Purification Facility was completed in 2013 in order to effectively treat renewable water including surface water and reuse water. Over the past five years, the Town has averaged a renewable usage rate of 22% with a peak in 2019 of nearly 30%. Reuse water is considered a local renewable source, but given its importance, it is delineated as its own source.
- Implemented a permanent surface water diversion structure along East Plum Creek with a capacity of over three-million gallons per day.
- Constructed the Plum Creek Pump Station and return pipeline allowing renewable and reusable water to be sent back to Castle Rock for treatment and use by our customers.
- Castle Rock acquired 250 AF of renewable water from the Cherry Creek Project Water Authority.
- The Lawn Irrigation Return Flow project aims to quantify the volume of water that reaches nearby creeks from irrigation. The water that is not used by plants or is not evaporated, percolates into the soil and returns to Cherry Creek or Plum Creek via gullies and small tributaries. Castle Rock anticipates up to 700 AF per year will be realized in water rights for this source.
- Begin conceptual design for expansion of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility from six-million gallons to 12-million gallons per day capacity.
- Fully implement delivery of Cherry Creek Water Project Authority renewable water to Town.
- Begin design for pipeline from Chatfield Reservoir to Castle Rock reservoirs in Sedalia.
Reusing water already within the community, is the most sustainable source of water for Castle Rock. It is also the most economical. Reuse water is taking water after it has been treated and released from the wastewater treatment plant, returning it for purification at the drinking water treatment plant, and then distributing it throughout the community for use. Reuse water will ultimately constitute one-third of the Town’s water supply.
- In 2020, Castle Rock began using unpurified reuse water for irrigation at the municipal golf course.
- In 2020, the addition of Advanced Treatment Processes was added to the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility, and in 2021, purified reuse water was added to the Town’s drinking water supply.
- Fully utilize the renewable reuse water supply available.
- Work with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on regulations for direct potable reuse to guide the implementation of this for Castle Rock.
Import renewable water resources
Though importing water from other areas may initially be an expensive option for Castle Rock, maximizing opportunities for imported water is one way to diversify our supply. This water is also fully reusable once it has been imported, making is a surprisingly cost effective option.
- Partnered with other South Metro communities to build the infrastructure to import Water Infrastructure Supply Efficiency, or WISE water, from Aurora’s Prairie Waters.
- Castle Rock currently subscribes up to 2,000 AF per year from WISE water (about 20 to 25% of our total annual water use today.)
- Purchased about 1,500 AF of water rights in the Lost Creek Basin in Weld County.
- Fully utilize our 2,000 AF WISE subscription.
- Identify a minimum of 230 AF of additional renewable water for purchase to support the Box Elder Project.
- Add to and enlarge pipelines in Parker to better accommodate larger volumes of imported WISE and future Box Elder water.
- Prepare Box Elder water rights for use in six to 10 years.
Renewable water comes from rain and snow events and is not necessarily available when the community needs it; thus it needs to be stored for later use. Storage has three components: the space, the actual water and the infrastructure (pipes, pumps, etc.) to convey it.
- Castle Rock owns 590 AF of storage and is leasing an additional 1,410 AF of space in the recently expanded Chatfield Reservoir.
- Castle Rock owns 8,000 AF of the total 74,000 AF capacity in Rueter-Hess Reservoir and has some water in storage but is currently exploring ways to get more water into this municipal water storage facility.
- Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is pumping treated water back down into the deep groundwater aquifers. The benefit of underground storage is lack of evaporation which can be as much as 14% loss each year. Castle Rock completed two wells and has two that are currently being equipped for ASR.
- Castle Rock acquired, what is now called, Castle Rock Reservoir Np. 1, which holds up to 240 AF of native Plum Creek water and reuse water.
- Build Castle Rock Reservoir No. 2 with 790 AF storage capacity.
- Purchase 258 AF of additional storage space in the Chatfield Reservoir.
- Construct a pipeline to deliver 1,000 AF of reuse and surface water from Plum Creek to Reuter-Hess Reservoir.
- Begin storing water downhole in the four ASR wells.
Promote water conservation
Instilling conservation practices today will have an effect on future quantities needed. The goal is to get from the 135 GPCD (gallons per capita daily) in 2006 to 100 GPCD by 2050. In 2020, the average GPCD was 117. While this is on the downward trend, drought conditions in 2019-2020, led to an increase in the GPCD usage from the previous years.
- Conservation rebates were expanded, most specifically turf replacement to non-residential customers, and to include indoor water saving products.
- Educational opportunities were strengthened for customers looking to learn efficiency practices, such as a five-year limit on Water Wiser designation and remote learning options.
- The elimination of Kentucky Bluegrass was extended to all new residential development.
- Non-residential water budgets were adjusted for actual plant type and irrigated property size.
- Continue to offer the current suite of rebates and potentially expand to other in-home devices such as tankless water heaters, residential sprinkler master valves and flow sensors.
- Consider amendment to the local plumbing code to require ultra-high-efficiency toilets for all new installations.
- Implement advanced metering infrastructure which will provide real-time monitoring and activity features.
Plan to pay
The need to diversify renewable supplies and build accommodating infrastructure is a matter of sustainability for future generations. Though it is projected the Town may require as much as 16,800 AF of water at buildout, from the currently used 9,000 AF, the renewable water infrastructure projects are needed despite population. The benefit of having additional customers, however, is that the cost for these projects is spread out. Castle Rock Water is funded solely from customer rates and fees and not from taxes or the Town’s general fund.
The updated 2021-2026 plan will have a major impact on budget as the plan will identify key capital improvement projects, policies and programs to reach our renewable water goals. Currently, the five-year budget includes $89.2 million for the proposed long term renewable water projects.
To ensure financial resources to fund the plan, Castle Rock Water plans to continue to conduct annual rates and fees studies to ensure financial viability. Currently, rates and fees are below predictive models and are expected to continue to rise at a slow rate. Castle Rock Water also benchmarks rates and fees with other Front Range water providers and remains mid-range in comparison.
All of the plans Castle Rock Water follows, including those for securing water resources, water use considerations, irrigation and regulations measures, stormwater infrastructure and operational guidelines, can be found at CRgov.com/WaterPlans. The public is also invited to attend the monthly Water Commission meetings.