New Castle plans Colorado River pump station

Suzie Romig
Special to the Post Independent

The severity of the drought and fire season last summer caught many in Colorado off guard.

Water users across the state, including the Town of New Castle, were faced with water officials enforcing “calls” on water by those with older water rights.

Although New Castle owns two senior water rights on East Elk Creek sufficient to handle needs in normal years, town planners are looking ahead to provide backup sources during dry years for the quickly growing population.

Construction will take place this summer on a quarter-acre sediment pond and Colorado River water pump station, to be built on three acres of town-owned land west of downtown and Elk Creek and between Interstate 70 and the railroad tracks.

The pump station will allow the town to divert water from the Colorado River when the normal water supply in East Elk Creek runs low.

“The drought conditions of the past several years have made our community, like many communities, analyze our water rights and needs,” town administrator Steve Rippy said. “This infrastructure is a key element in ensuring that we will continue to be able to provide a water source for the community for many years into the future.”

The river water – obtained by the town’s purchase of water rights from Ruedi Reservoir – will be pumped through planned underground piping to the town’s current water processing plant.

The processing plant, located in the middle of the Elk Creek subdivision, underwent a $450,000 upgrade and expansion in spring 2001. The $950,000 river pump station project is designed by Glenwood Springs engineering firm Schmueser Gordon Meyer.

Funding for the project comes from a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, other possible state grants, the town’s capital fund from new home water tap fees, and a subdivision improvement agreement with the Lakota Canyon Ranch residential and golf course development in northeast New Castle.

“This is a big project for us; we don’t do million dollar projects very often,” Rippy said.

The town administrator said residential water utility rates would not increase to fund the pump station project, which could be completed in August. He said the backup water source should be utilized only in drought years or in emergencies.

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