Exploratory drilling granted for possible Colorado reservoir

March 25, 2021 GMT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has granted a request from Colorado Springs Utilities and the city of Aurora for exploratory drilling that will determine the feasibility of building a dam in the White River National Forest.

The proposed reservoir involves water rights that have not been developed, The Gazette reported Wednesday.

“It’s a first step in a process that will allow us to ultimately select an environmentally friendly, technically feasible alternative that we can carry hopefully through the permitting process,” said Patrick Wells, general manager of water resources and demand management for the utility.


Wells said options are being explored for a new reservoir that could hold as much as 20,000 acre feet of water that would then be shared. An acre foot covers an acre of ground under a foot of water.

Colorado Springs Utilities expects to drill holes 4-to-8 inches (10-to-20 centimeters) in diameter to a depth of up to 150 feet (45 meters). Maria Pastore, a water resource planning project manager, said the work is scheduled to take place in the summer or fall to examine four locations for a new dam.

Jerry Mallett, founder of Colorado Headwaters, a group helping to organize opposition to the project, argues the reservoir would destroy wetlands in the valley and the “whole ecosystem will be hammered.”

Some people have also argued against eliminating the 500-acre (200-hectare) wilderness designation in Holy Cross Wilderness, which was proposed for road realignments and other infrastructure.