Elbert County has cleared the final funding hurdle for conducting a countywide water study. On March 18, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) awarded the county a $120,000 grant to fund the second of two water projects designed to measure and assess the deep-water aquifers that provide the majority of water to Elbert County's residents.
The county has budgeted $20,000 to meet a matching requirement for the CWCB grant that will be used to analyze data obtained from a U.S. Geological Survey well monitoring network. Also partially funded by CWCB grant money, the well-monitoring network began targeting existing, eligible wells within Elbert County last fall and, in February, began measuring water levels in a minimum of 30 existing wells that extract water from the local aquifers.
The county plans use the data generated from the volunteer monitoring network and assessed by the study to provide guidance to develop a water master plan. The plan is expected to consider the existing water supply and water supply projections, in order to manage options and to estimate the costs of providing infrastructure for the population growth and economic development expected in the county in the coming decades.
“These are components of a much bigger picture. There is a lot going on with regard to the issue of water in this county,” said District I Commissioner Robert Rowland at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on March 25. “I'm dedicating myself to making this a priority. To get as much information as possible to the public about the Denver Basin water future.
The majority of Elbert County overlies several of the Front-Range's aquifers, collectively known as the Denver Basin, which extends north from Colorado Springs to Greeley.
District III Commissioner Larry Ross, who also spoke on the subject at the BOCC's March 25 meeting, expressed his appreciation to the members of the all-volunteer Water Advisory Committee for their work.
“Thanks go out to all those folks who participated in grant writing and all the effort that went into this,” Ross said.
The county intends to hold periodic meetings to keep the public apprised of the progress of the well monitoring and the subsequent water study. The dates for the public meetings will be posted on the Elbert County website at elbertcounty-co.gov.
The 15-member CWCB is appointed by the governor and was created to provide policy direction for water issues in eight major areas including water conservation, water information and water supply planning.