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Website provides information on Chatfield Reservoir expansion

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By Ramsey Scott

The group behind the plan to expand Chatfield Reservoir has launched a website to serve as a central location for information on the upcoming project.

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The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project received final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers last October. The plan will increase water storage at the state’s most popular park by 20,600 acre-feet and boost water levels by up to 12 feet.

With work not scheduled to start until 2016, if not later, the water users behind the project wanted to create a place for interested parties to get answers to questions and to read about what they will see at Chatfield State Park in the coming years. The website, www.chatfieldreallocation.org, went online last week.

“It’s a central place to get your questions answered now, and it will be updated as things change and the project gets closer,” said Sherry Eppers, spokeswoman for one of the groups involved in the project, Centennial Water and Sanitation. “We see the website as an opportunity for people to get updates so they can understand milestones that are occurring with the project planning, and events that might lead up or happen during the project.”

The website provides information on the water users and answers some of the most common questions. As the project gets under way, the website will also include information on when and where construction will start and finish and other news. The project is estimated to take between 18 and 24 months.

“The intention is for this to be a dynamic website,” said David Howlett, a spokesman for Capitol Representatives, which represents the water users. “We wanted the public to have one credible information source so they can go to our website and pull up information on the project, the history, who supports it and who’s participating.”

For more than 10 years, the Army Corps has been working with the state state Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board on the best way to expand water storage from the South Platte River and Plum Creek. The Army Corps has estimated that annual demand for water in the region will grow to 365,601 acre-feet in 2050, about 116,000 acre-feet more than in 2010.

The expansion of Chatfield is estimated to yield about 8,539 acre-feet of water per year and estimated to cost $183 million, which will come from the water users involved. Much of the cost of the project will go to mitigate impacts on recreational facilities in the park and on the environment.

The proposed expansion has been contentious because it would flood existing wildlife habitat and many of the park’s facilities, like the boat ramp and marina. And the expanded reservoir would likely be at maximum levels for only three years out of every 10, leaving muddy shore lines.