This morning the moderator of the Friends of Black Forest (thank you very much) sent me a link to a very significant project that was new to me.
The Falcon Area Water Authority (FAWA) is a new entity that plans to take water from High Forest Ranch, Bar-X Ranch, and McCune Ranch (now known as Winsome) and pipe it down to supply Sterling Ranch, the Ranch, TimberRidge, the Schmidt property (I don't know what that entails but it has 400 homes) and eventually several Falcon area water districts (Meridian, Woodmen Hills, Falcon Highlands, and others.) The attached maps show the proposed well locations and pipeline systems. The package says that the Falcon area water districts are needing more water (we already knew that) and drilling more wells is not always the best answer.
The project entails 27 well sites (High Forest - 7, Bar-X - 16, McCune - 4) with two wells per site potential. The wells will not use the Dawson aquifer. One place in the paperwork says they will use the Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers, but another place mentions the Denver so I don't know for sure. Since we don't know the amount of water that moves up and down between the four aquifers, draining the lower two or three aquifers might well affect the Dawson as well. There is not a clear, impermeable boundary between the aquifers. The wells will connect to a central 24-inch waterline that will go east on Hodgen to Meridian and then south to the storage tank and treatment facility for Sterling Ranch on Arroya.
This will be financed by selling bonds like every other metro district. The pipeline will cost about $12 million and each set of wells (I assume that is the 2 wells on each of the 27 sites) will cost $3 million so the cost is really high. Wells like this usually have a 12-inch bore and will go down 2000-3000 feet. The paper also says they have identified water rights for sale on several other ranches in our area so we can expect that maybe some other ranches might sell their water rights.
Potential plans for SDS water from the city are possible but the paper states that even if they had city water they might not have a high priority for water supplies in a severe drought so they want these non-renewable supplies from our Denver basin. The paper states that there are few if any, other sources of available water in the county sufficient to meet the needs of the Falcon area water providers.
Sterling Ranch tried to get annexed to the city but after a few "back and forth" applications and replies, the annexation application was withdrawn.
They propose to drill the first wells in 2022 or 2023. After the Cherokee Metro bad experience on Sundance Ranch, the question remains if wells can produce enough water to be commercially feasible. Several of the wells on Sundance were very expensive but didn't produce enough water to make it worth the cost.
As we have always said, "Paper water does not always equal wet water." The decreed water rights given to the FAWA aren't necessarily the amount of water that they are able to economically extract.
FAWA has the water rights, has found easements for the pipeline without using eminent domain, and can press on with just a few OKs from the county when they get the money to do it.
This makes me sad to see them taking water from under the Black Forest and piping it outside the forest for residential purposes. If someone owns water rights, the county commissioners feel they have the right to sell the water the same as selling the land or the timber on the land.
If you want all the details, click here.
We will watch to see what happens as this huge project plays out.