Ketring Lake gets a boost

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The fish in Ketring Lake got a bit of reprieve Sept. 10 when Denver Water agreed to run water through the High Line Canal for two weeks.

“This is huge,” said Charlie Blosten, director of public works. He expects it will be the last time for at least a couple of years.

After Denver Water took over Littleton’s service in 1970, it agreed to keep Ketring Lake full, to the extent possible, with water channeled from the High Line Canal. But after several years of drought conditions, Denver Water decided to let the canal stay empty, and the lake is drying up.

As part of a solution, the city paid $18,000 for a study on the feasibility of drilling to access underground aquifers. Blosten requested $500,000 in the 2014 budget to cover design, testing and construction of a well that would not only fill the lake but water up to 30 acres at Ketring Park, Littleton Museum, Bemis Library, Gallup Park and Gallup Gardens.

Blosten expected to need at least that much more in the 2015 budget to complete design of pumping and irrigation systems.

Council was not generally supportive of the plan during its Sept. 10 study session.

“I have a huge concern with the price tag,” said Mayor Debbie Brinkman. “I don’t want to just let it sit there and get messy and icky. … But I don’t think Ketring Lake is sustainable, and I don’t think drilling a well for $1 million is a good idea right now.”

She suggested using the money for a master plan of the area, which might include “repurposing” the lake.

Councilor Bruce Beckman agreed, but said he’d like to hear more from the public.

“Maybe that park ultimately will become something different,” he said.

Councilor Phil Cernanec wondered if redirecting storm water to the area via the High Line Canal might be more cost-effective and include benefits to the canal itself.

“I’d like to see that rather than jump into tapping into an aquifer that takes 100 years to replenish,” he said.

A short-term solution to divert water from Englewood’s McClellan Reservoir in Douglas County has been proposed by former City Manager Larry Borger, who lives in the Ketring neighborhood. Englewood is legally obligated to let Littleton have 35 acre-feet of water a year to replace evaporated water in Cooley Lake, which is south of South Platte Park. But Littleton only uses about 19 acre-feet a year, so Borger feels the city has a right to do whatever it wants with the other 16.

“I think the city’s getting a bad rap about this, and I’d like to see if we can get something going,” he told Littleton City Council on Aug. 6.

Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Stahlman and Councilor Jim Taylor supported going forward with the drilling, noting that using it to water the whole area would save money in the long run.

“I think spending $500,000 is a good investment for the future,” said Taylor.