By Donna Duncan and Monika Eckmann
Black Forest residents, are you concerned that the massive amount of development coming to Black Forest might adversely affect our groundwater supply? A recent water decree allows the Cherokee Metropolitan District to pump a total of 3,708 acre-feet of water per year; 1,246 acre-feet of that yearly total can come from the Dawson aquifer. One acre-foot is the volume of water equivalent to covering one acre of land to a depth of one foot; this equals 43,560 cubic feet or 325,851 gallons. There are approximately 13,116 Black Forest residents who use 0.5 acre-feet per year, per household. Consequently, Cherokee can pump 50% additional water than is used by the entire Black Forest community in a year.
Should you be concerned how increased pumping from the Dawson aquifer may affect your well - you have some recourse. To begin, you must have a well permit in your name or from your HOA. You can view and print your permit from the Colorado Department of Water Resources website. If you are concerned about your well, you must keep records by measuring its water level (the distance between the top of the well and the water’s surface) twice a year for the first year and at least yearly thereafter. The owner may measure the water level of their own well, hire a professional, or use the services of people trained in measuring well levels. Everyone needs to ensure that their wells are not contaminated with bacteria or other unwanted substances during the measurement process. Keep all records available for future use with date, level, and equipment used. Ideally, your neighbors perform similar measurements on their wells. The more people who keep records, the better case Black Forest residents have. Effective claims require a lot of data collected by many people. Encourage neighbors and HOAs to monitor their wells.
If you see a serious reduction in your well’s water level and, for example, your well begins to pump water unreliably, then you may be able to claim “material injury” by taking your water level records to legislators or water courts. A decline in water levels does not constitute material injury. However, a significant drawdown after a nearby new development or commercial well begins pumping may be sufficient evidence to raise political alarm.
Your records may be kept private, especially upon sale of your home. Note that a real estate agent who is aware of the data would have to disclose the information, but only if asked.
At the U.S. Geological Survey, among many topics, is a map of wells in the Denver Basin whose water levels have been measured and graphed by the U.S. Geological Survey over many years. Also relevant, the Colorado Division of Water Resources provides the 2018 report “Groundwater Levels in the Denver Basin Bedrock Aquifers” on its website.
The authors are members of the Black Forest Water and Wells group, which is a committee of Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan (FOBFPP). The groups are comprised of, but not limited to, Black Forest citizens. The mission of the Black Forest Water & Wells committee is to advocate for groundwater quality, quantity, and promote sustainability for groundwater supply in the Denver Basin aquifers with a focus on Black Forest private wells. The Friends group needs many members to convince politicians that we speak on important issues such as development and water with many voices. Please consider joining the FOBFPP and become a member.
Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan and Black Forest Water & Wells groups will have a booth at the Black Forest Festival on August 10th. We are researching well monitoring equipment and several other topics. Come visit us for updates.