Water drilling nears completion in Ranch

Centennial finishing work at second of two sites

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After a late start, Centennial Water and Sanitation District is in the process of wrapping up its second of two major drilling projects this summer.

The district announced in February that it would tap into its 1.7 billion acre-feet supply of groundwater this year due to Colorado undergoing the worst drought conditions it had faced since 2002.

Plans at the time called for the water drilling to be complete by the time the weather got warm, but according to the company’s general manager, John Hendrick, delays in getting the contractor on site caused both projects to start late.

Rig work on the first site, at Salford Lane, north of Gateway Drive and east of Broadway, concluded July 5 after five weeks of drilling. Work on the second site, behind Southridge Recreation Center off McArthur Ranch Road, began two days later and is expected to be complete by Aug. 15.

Once the rig work behind Southridge is complete, design work at both sites will begin for the installation of underground piping along with the placement of pumping equipment in the wells. The sites will then be landscaped to make them blend in with the surrounding properties, Hendrick said.

“Our reserves are big enough that we could use 17,000 acre-feet a year for 100 years,” Hendrick said. “But what we try to do is hedge and play it safe. We have been pumping a lot of groundwater because we knew the river was going to be dry. If you look at the snowpack accumulation up until May, we were sweating bullets.”

Hendrick said this was the second worst drought year that Centennial Water has experienced in its 30 years of existence, behind 2002, but in neither of those years did the company need to use more than 8,000 acre-feet of groundwater. In an average year, he said, they only use about 1,000 to 2,000 acre-feet.

“We are trying to do everything we can to make a sustainable longtime water supply for the community,” he said. “We have enough groundwater supply that we could survive off that alone for the next 100 years, but by using that and the water we have in the reservoir and creating a good balance of the two, we are not dependent on the wells to survive, and at the rate we are using it, could survive 1,000 years.”

There are two or three other well sites on Centennial’s radar for coming years, Hendrick said, but the decision of when to drill them will be based more on budget than necessity.

“Just putting the infrastructure in place helps keep us ahead of the curve,” he said.