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News: Features & Opinions Archive (2011)

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Date: September 2011

Potential Big Changes at Chatfield Reservoir and State Park

by Ann Bonnell

Chatfield Lake was originally built for flood control and recreation. A study to store an additional 12 vertical feet, or 20,600 acre feet of water for residential, commercial and agricultural use, has been ongoing for over 10 years. There are 14 possible water users/districtswho may use this water. The additional water has only junior water rights, which means that the water may be available for storage in 1 out of every 3 years.

To accommodate the every-third-year higher water levels, the picnic areas, beach facilities, roads, marinas and other recreational facilities may have to be relocated. The lost wetlands, wildlife habitat and Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat will have to be replaced and over 200 acres of mature cottonwood forest are slated to be removed. In most areas, the added water will be shallow and not navigable by motor boats. In most years, the water levels will be where they are now, but the new facilities will be farther from the water. Surrounding the lake will be a "bath tub ring" of dirt, sand and mud flats. The water storage partners have promised to do their best to make amends for the proposed big changes around the lake.

If you are interested, what can you do?

The Draft FR/EIS [Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement] on the Chatfield Reallocation Study is expected at the end of September 2011. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be holding three public meetings to provide information on the project, probably in mid October. There will also be a public comment period. The document itself, with all its appendices,will be over 2600 pages. It will be available for study in hard copy at several locations in the Denver area; it will also be available on the Internet. You can find some advance information on the water user's public relations website at www.chatfieldstudy.org.

To see the maps on the site go to Supporting Documents, Public Outreach Flyer. You can ask questions in advance or be put on a list for notificationsby calling 1-866-643- 5875.

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