The new still-filling Rueter-Hess Reservoir just north of Castle Rock is expected to be bigger than Cherry Creek Reservoir, someday - and in anticipation of that, its creator, Parker Water and Sanitation District, recently came to Castle Rock Town Council asking if the town might support developing recreational amenities there.
Ideas being floated: Things such as fishing, a swim beach, dog park, picnic and camping areas and miles of trails - and possibly non-motorized boating, eventually.
The consensus of Castle Rock Town Council: Interested.
"I really like the potential ... I think it's a great idea," said Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue, who also said he appreciated having the opportunity to have input and possibly being a part of it.
Ron Redd, district manager for Parker Water and Sanitation District, and Susan St. Vincent, the district's director of business solutions, assured the town council they weren't asking for financial support - not at this point, anyway.
They're talking to various councils and districts - including Castle Rock, Castle Pines and Stonegate, which have water-storage rights at Rueter-Hess - to ascertain interest and to find partners with park and recreation expertise, Redd said.
St. Vincent said later the district hopes to start the master-planning process in 2014. She said they don't know at this point what the cost would be, or the timeframe, to develop recreational amenities. She hopes to know more in six months to a year.
Construction of the $193.9 million Rueter-Hess Reservoir, just east of Interstate 25's Castle Pines Parkway exit and north of Castle Rock, was completed in 2012 and has been slowing filling with water since then.
It captures surface water, especially storm runoff that normally would be lost downstream. It will help provide additional drinking water for Parker, help meet demand during summer and drought and extend the life of underground water aquifers, according to Parker Water and Sanitation District's website.
Water that has been through Parker's system and treated, is also stored there, St. Vincent told Colorado Community Media.
The reservoir currently holds about 7,800 acre-feet of water, covering about 311 acres of land. At capacity it will have about 72,000 acre-feet of water, covering about 1,170 acres of land and fingers of the reservoir will be visible from Interstate 25. On its south end, some homeowners in Castle Park Ranch, a Ranchette-type development, will look down on it, have beach-front property, with at least one property having water only about 20 to 30 feet away from the garage.
A vision of the future
St. Vincent told Castle Rock's town council that in recent discussions in Parker the "energy behind the project has just been amazing," and she thinks it will end up being a legacy for the people who choose to be involved.
St. Vincent said the west side of the Rueter-Hess Reservoir is protected as habitat preservation for "vast amounts of wildlife" including elk and deer.
So it would be the opposite side, the reservoir's east side, that would be most appropriate for such things as access to fishing, a dog park, swim beach picnic areas, and parking.
On the north side, north of Hess Road, there is 550 acres, room for such things as a golf courses or mountain bike trails, she said.
The south side has been identified as potential overnight camping areas - where scouts or church groups could pack in and camp out for multiple nights. That would be down the road when the facility had overnight security and ranger services, she said.
In addition, there will be about 17 miles of potential hiking-trail area that run around all the fingers of the reservoir, an "amazing opportunity to spend the day there once it's totally filled." It could be a central place where regional trails come together.
St. Vincent said it's an amazing piece of land with great views, and would be an attraction. "...In Colorado if there is a body of water people will come," she said.
At a past Parker meeting, St. Vincent said all of the attendees raised their hands when asked if they were excited about the possibility of such a project. And when asked if they'd be willing to help pay for it in the form of potentially a tax, about 70 to 80 percent raised their hands.
During public comments, a Castle Rock resident said that kite surfers, or kite boarders, currently only have Aurora Reservoir available for their sport. He said he thinks town council would be surprised how much activity the sport brings and he hopes that would be part of a recreation plan.
Rob Hanna, the town's parks and recreation director, said in a joint memo with Redd, that in the past months they have been meeting with staff from Parker, Douglas County and others to discuss forming a regional partnership and that those representatives "share our support and excitement of providing public access and potential regional 'draw' this distinctive project provides."