Walnut Creek, Calif. — The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District and other stakeholders selected Brown and Caldwell to lead the South Platte Regional Water Development Study. The seventh fastest-growing state in 2018 per the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado is expected to add three million new residents by 2050. In the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains, the South Platte River Basin (basin), home to most of the state’s population, is challenged with the greatest projected water supply gap of any of Colorado’s river basins.
The study will advance the South Platte Regional Water Development Concept, an initiative to bring municipal, environmental, and agricultural stakeholders together in new ways to manage and utilize water supply more effectively. It is potentially a pivotal step toward achieving the goals of the South Platte Basin Implementation Plan (https://southplattebasin.com) and Colorado’s Water Plan (https://www.colorado.gov/cowaterplan).
The analysis will focus on partner outreach and the identification of supply alternatives that consider timing, amount, and location of stakeholder water needs, possible organizational structures, water treatment strategies, and other drivers deemed critical to the potential success of the project. The final report will equip water providers with the information required to advance the concept in a collaborative and transparent way.
Initial concepts to be studied include multiple, operationally linked storage facilities capable of storing more than 150,000 acre-feet of water and additional conveyance capacity strategically positioned throughout the basin. This infrastructure network will allow storage, reuse, and exchange of several water types including unappropriated native flow, reusable supplies, and agricultural water derived from alternative transfer methods. Water will be delivered to meet diverse municipal, agricultural, environmental, and recreational needs.
“The study is a key driver to conserving, protecting, and enhancing water supplies as the basin continues to experience unprecedented growth and subsequent supply challenges,” said Joe Frank, Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District general manager.
Directing a multidisciplinary team, Brown and Caldwell will provide project oversight, coordinate a 60-strong stakeholder task force, evaluate agricultural requirements, and lead modeling. Stantec will integrate results of the South Platte Storage Study, a 2017 report detailing multi-purpose water storage possibilities in the Lower South Platte River basin. Cost estimating, organization structuring, and water treatment will also be part of Stantec’s remit. Leonard Rice Engineers will refine municipal, industrial, environmental, and recreational demands and support modeling. Sigler Communications has been engaged for stakeholder outreach. The team will be advised by Doug Robotham and attorneys from Holland & Hart.
“This project is an opportunity for diverse stakeholder collaboration and to develop implementable solutions to secure Colorado’s future water supply,” said Matt Lindburg, Brown and Caldwell project manager. “Our talented team is excited to leverage our collective expertise and move this important project forward for the betterment of Colorado’s residents and businesses.”
Project kickoff commenced in March with a draft of the final study scheduled for delivery within a year.