The Thomas Reservoir is scheduled to be operational by the middle of April, doubling Erie’s raw water storage. Erie Reservoir holds 200-acre feet of water and is the town’s main water source. Seeing that Prince One Reservoir is on indefinite hold, officials said the acquisition of Thomas Reservoir is necessary to keep up with demands.
As well, Erie Board of Trustees members are discussing a new water ordinance that would require developers of new annexations to provide their water rights to the town, but also raise tap fees from $4,000 to $7,000. The town can use this new fund to purchase land and build a new reservoir or purchase an existing reservoir that is not being used.
Taking advantage of the mine north of Kenosha Road is another option. A reservoir can be developed by using the hole created by the mining operation, according to Dennis Drumm, the town administrator. According to Drumm, the town has more water than it needs. “We are one year ahead on our demand for water, and that’s how we’d like to stay.”
Erie Lake’s dam is scheduled to undergo a repair project at the end of this year. “The State of Engineering Office is aware of our situation, that Erie Lake cannot be taken off-line for construction until we have solved our water problem,” said Judi Ding, Public Works director. “They understand and the construction will be completed next year, ” he added.
The city of Erie will soon have to decide if fluoride should be added to its water supply. Adding fluoride to water is not mandated by federal or state laws, but represents a policy that the town can choose to adopt. Unlike some residents, Erie
doesn’t lack water rights, Drumm believes. The problem is getting the water to the plant.
There are 2,436 units of Colorado Big Thompson water owned by the town. The rights of CBT are called units. CBT is the largest supplier, and most of its water comes from Carter Lake, but Erie also has shared from other companies. When water is available from a variety of sources, reservoirs store it until it is needed.
Additionally, neighboring cities receive water from Carter Lake, and the pipe that branches off to various towns has a limited capacity. “Next year we are going to put in new pumps,” Drumm said. Additionally, he is exploring all options for purchasing pipe capacity from other municipalities in collaboration with the Public Works Department.
Meanwhile, a dozen or so residents have voiced their concerns during public hearings when a new subdivision was on the agenda, claiming that there wouldn’t be enough water for such rapid growth.
Trustee Steve Skapyak said he hasn’t been aware that there was a major concern, but he understands that people like to know where the water is coming from. Approximately 5,000 people have moved to Erie
in the last ten years, and all want their toilets to flush, their showers to work, and to have enough water to water their lawns.
There have been 2,934 building permits issued by the town over the past 127 years, of which over 2,150 have been issued in the last four years. And 4,569 houses are in the process of being platted. Among the general populace, most people are not water experts, so they remain unclear about the water trade business and how towns distribute water.
With all the above-mentioned reasons in mind, Skapyak said the Thomas Reservoir needed to be operational immediately since Erie lost two years of storing water at Prince One. “There was no reasonable way that we could have delayed Canyon Creek,” he said.
As part of the contract with Canyon Creek developers, the town paid $1.3 million to purchase Thomas Reservoir. “I have to trust our staff that we will have enough water,” Skapyak said. “We are paying them to do these studies, so hopefully we’re not building ahead of what’s feasible.” He believes that asking developers to bring deliverable water with them will please long-term residents.