Chatfield watershed draft plan released

Critics say the proposal to increase storage capacity at Chatfield Reservoir could turn the park into a prairie and the South Platte River into a mud puddle. Proponents say it could be the solution to the region's ever-increasing water struggles. Photo by Jennifer Smith
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The group working on a vision for the future of the Chatfield watershed has developed a draft plan and wants the public to weigh in.

“The Chatfield Watershed Plan provides an essential framework for prioritizing and protecting our local natural resources,” Casey Davenhill, executive director of the Colorado Watershed Assembly, said in a press release. “It also offers citizens educational information to help adults, kids, pet owners, farmers and others take responsible action to safeguard public health and safety that ultimately affects water quality in all of our communities.”

The CWA was established in 1984 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in an effort to protect water quality throughout the watershed, which includes parts of Douglas and Jefferson counties. Member agencies include the Audubon Society, Denver Water, a variety of water and sanitation districts, several municipalities, the Denver Urban Water Partnership and many more.

The plan focuses on stream restoration and mitigating the effects of wildfire and erosion. It calls for diverting runoff away from areas polluted by such things as animal waste and deteriorating septic systems, in an effort to protect the groundwater and the South Platte River south of Chatfield Reservoir.

“In addition to its primary purpose of flood control, (Chatfield) serves as one of many water-supply reservoirs for the City of Denver and other Front Range communities, which is why it’s essential for all citizens to understand how human, animal and recreational activities affect water quality and the natural ecosystems that co-exist with one another,” said Julie Vlier, supervising engineer at Tetra Tech, the firm that conducted the study for CWA. “The inclusive public process in which the watershed plan has been carefully developed focuses on the practical actions that will lead to significant improvements to water quality in this vital watershed.”

CWA will accept public comments through January, then organize them in time for a final public meeting in the spring. It can be viewed at www.chatfieldwatershedauthority.org; click on “Watershed Plan,” then “Plan Documentation.” Send comments to julie.vlier@tetratech.com.

This plan is entirely separate from the pending Chatfield reallocation project, the final draft of which was released in September. It can be viewed at www.chatfieldstudy.org.