Flows in the South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir will increase, thanks to a successful pledge drive by The Greenway Foundation, in partnership with Denver Water.
The pledge drive, announced by The Greenway Foundation in August of 2016, successfully reached its goal of matching Denver Water’s commitment of nearly $2 million to purchase 250 acre-feet of environmental storage in Chatfield Reservoir, for a total of 500 acre-feet.
The Chatfield Reallocation Project, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board are already planning an environmental pool to provide up to 1,600 acre-feet of storage, and Denver Water saw an opportunity to add to it.
“The many generous supporters who stepped up to meet our funding challenge is a testament to the importance of an environmentally healthy South Platte River to the continued vibrancy of the Denver metropolitan area,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead. “We applaud the leadership, vision and tremendous effort by The Greenway Foundation, and welcome our new funding partners and other leaders in revitalizing the South Platte corridor.”
The environmental pool will be operational after the completion of the Chatfield Reallocation Project, and will release water into the South Platte River to benefit the environment and recreation along the urban corridor through Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Weld counties, as well as agriculture downstream of the metro area.
“Nearly all great cities are located along, and defined by, a major waterway,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “Denver is no exception. The South Platte River is a central feature of our landscape, and we are committed to keeping it flowing throughout the year for the benefit and enjoyment of all of our residents.”
The additional flows will be released through Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s fish hatchery at Chatfield Reservoir, helping to grow fish for stocking purposes — a huge win, according to Denver Trout Unlimited.
“Denver Trout Unlimited is honored to support the Chatfield Environmental Pool in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and enhance the recreational benefits of the South Platte River,” said Scott Schreiber, president of Denver Trout Unlimited. “This project benefits our ecosystem, especially the aquatic life that will now flourish as a result of these additional flows.”
The 500-acre-foot environmental pool is owned by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The water rights to fill the pool will come from Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, which will also fund the operations and maintenance of the pool and capture and use the water for agricultural purposes downstream of Denver.
“We are happy to be part of this project,” said Weld County Commissioner Chair Julie Cozad. “Our economy is dependent on agricultural activity throughout our county, in addition to our growing economic areas of energy, technology and manufacturing. All of these economic sectors are dependent upon water resources, and they will continue to depend on them in the future. This added water resource will allow continuation of economic growth, while still maintaining our strong agricultural heritage.”
The Greenway Foundation reached the goal thanks to 19 pledges.
“The Greenway Foundation has championed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance stream flows in the South Platte River as a model of innovative water management practices,” said Jeff Shoemaker, executive director of The Greenway Foundation. “This generational opportunity provides multiple benefits to our river, be it river health or recreational enhancement. By participating in the environmental pool, the metro Denver water community has recognized the lasting impact that increased stream flows will have for the future of our South Platte River.”
A special thank you to all donors who helped secure this victory for the environment, including:
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