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The city of Fountain is looking for options to expand its treated water supply and might purchase treated water from the city of Colorado Springs.

The city of Fountain is on the hunt for more water to support growth and the most likely short-term option is an agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities. 

"Fountain is coming to the ceiling of the treated water supply," said Mike Fink, city water resources manager, during a recent board meeting. 

While the city owns enough water rights to double its treated water capacity, enough to serve 8,800 taps, developing the infrastructure to treat that water will take time and purchasing water could provide a more immediate solution, Utilities Director Dan Blankenship said.

In the long-term, the town expects residents could consume about four times as much water as they do now, a recent water master planning process showed, Fink said. The study showed the town uses about 3,167 acre feet of water annually, or about 1 billion gallons and it will need 11,527 acre feet or about 3.75 billion gallons, he said. The town's maximum daily demand for water could also increase four fold, he said. 

The need for more water is not tied to a calendar date, rather it will be driven by the speed of growth within the city's service area. Those developments will also be expected to pay for additional water infrastructure, Blankenship said.

The town's service area is distinct from the town's boundaries because five water providers serve homes and businesses within the city's boundaries, Fink said. 

To meet the need, Blankenship said he recently put in a formal request to Colorado Springs Utilities to purchase treated water and would like to have an agreement in two years, he said. 

"That’s an extremely aggressive approach," Blankenship said.

The water could be delivered to Fountain by way of a new water main line that could run from the Edward Bailey Water Treatment Plant south to the eastern side of Fountain, he said. 

Blankenship would like to see an agreement to purchase water over 15 to 25 years until the water is needed to serve Colorado Springs, he said.

Colorado Springs Utilities confirmed it has received a request from Fountain and such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. 

"These agreements can provide an efficient use of our infrastructure in circumstances where we have capacity, as they allow us to help spread the costs of conveyance (delivery of water) over a larger customer base," spokeswoman Jennifer Kemp said. 

Fountain is also working on a new reservoir so it can use water rights it already owns. It has purchased gravel pits on the very southwest side of Fountain west of Interstate 25, just north of the Nixon power plant and has hired a consultant that is designing the new facility. However, the excavation company must complete reclamation on the property before the town can start work, Blankenship said. 

Town officials are also exploring other options, such as injecting the Widefield aquifer with surface water from Fountain Creek to store it, he said. When water is stored in existing aquifers none of it is lost to evaporation. 

The Widefield aquifer is contaminated with chemicals from firefighting foam that used to be used on Peterson Space Force Base and all the water from the aquifer goes through extensive treatment to ensure its safe for consumption. 

Still, Fountain, Security and Widefield are interested in the injection as a potential to increase water storage, Blankenship said.

"There’s science that indicates the aquifer could be cleaned over time," he said. 

Fountain could also become a partner in the project to recapture Denver basin groundwater water released into Fountain Creek by northern water users. 

Colorado Springs Utilities, Monument and six groundwater districts are working together on the feasibility of capturing the water. 

It's possible the water could be diverted below Colorado Springs and may require new water storage, such as a reservoir or tank, Colorado Springs Utilities said in the past. 

The city of Fountain could also consider new residential landscaping rules to help cut consumption, Fink said. Such rules would have be approved by Fountain's council. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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