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Jeffco eyes change in water regulations for developers

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By Ramsey Scott

Jefferson County is looking to revise regulations that determine how developers show adequate water supplies exist for various projects.

The county is considering altering the timing by which rezoning applicants must show proof of an adequate water supply for a development, giving developers of smaller projects more time to prove adequate supplies exist.

Basically, under the new requirements, a development requiring more than 0.67

acre-feet of water per year would have to show an adequate water supply early in the rezoning process. Developments requiring less would get more time.

Currently, all developments must estimate the required water needs and prove there is an adequate supply at the start of a rezoning application.

"If the water requirements exceed that value, the applicant would have to show proof of water," said Pat O’Connell, planning and zoning geologist for Jeffco. "If it's less, then they wouldn’t have to show it until later in that development."

Along with revising the trigger amount, the county would also compile a water table for developers to use. Instead of drilling test wells and conducting their own analyses, developers could use the county's water table to show proof of an adequate supply.

"You're able to define certain basins throughout the county and take a look at a simple water budget for that area and evaluate water coming in and coming out," O'Connell said. "The water supply needs to be shown during the development phase. What we've looked at is other ways of showing that proof of water."

If a developer disagreed with a water table that showed an inadequate supply for a large project, it could conduct its own study to present to county planners.

The goal of the changes is to help streamline the approval process for developments, and to change the process for estimating water supplies.

"I think it benefits developers and the existing property owners," O'Connell said. 

The county will have a public comment process in January, and the revisions would go before the county commissioners by March.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.