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Getting WISE to renewable water

Long-planned project brings big city water to south metro area


Too many cooks is usually a good way to ruin a good thing, but in the case of delivering safe, renewable drinking water to customers in the Denver metro area, the more partners the better.

That’s the thinking behind the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency, or WISE, project, a partnership among 12 water providers that recently began delivering water to its members after more than eight years of planning, construction and anticipation.

“It’s incredibly complex to figure out how you’re going to share a pipe,” said Mark Marlowe, director of Castle Rock Water. “People have poured years into making this happen, so it’s great.”

The WISE partnership began with years of negotiation and intergovernmental agreements among Aurora Water, Denver Water and 10 of the 13 members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority.

“Most of us would love to do everything on our own,” said Ron Redd, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District. “What we found over time is that we can’t afford to do that.”

When Denver or Aurora have more water than they can use, other WISE members can bid for the surplus, allowing them to utilize renewable water and save groundwater supplies for drought periods.

It’s a cost-saving move for Denver and Aurora, and it puts the South Metro Authority on track to meeting its goals of shifting away from groundwater sources such as the Denver Basin Aquifer and using renewable supplies.

“It will allow us to rest and restore our wells,” Redd said.

For Denver Water, the biggest advantage to the partnership is a backup supply of water in case of drought. For Aurora, the benefits include sharing the cost of maintaining its extensive infrastructure in the South Platte region.

Customers of all WISE providers will see reduced costs as a result of sharing the infrastructure and keeping staff sizes down, according to Redd.

“It’s a win-win-win,” said Lisa Darling, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “These types of agreements are often settled in court, but WISE is all based on opportunities and advantages for all of the parties. It’s a case of `I have this and when I don’t need it, you can use it.’ ”

Water is delivered from Aurora through the project’s Ridgegate pipeline, running along the same basic route as the E-470 toll highway.

The Rangeview Metropolitan District just began taking water deliveries and the Cottonwood Water and Inverness Sanitation Districts, as well as the Meridian Metropolitan District will be next, beginning sometime in August, and the Centennial Water and Sanitation District, which serves Highlands Ranch,should be getting deliveries by the beginning of 2018.

Water providers in Parker, Castle Rock, the Pinery, Stonegate, Dominion are all scheduled to begin receiving WISE water by April 2018.

“There’s no feeling like it when people have poured years into making this happen,” Marlowe said, “so having it come together for our customers is great.”


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