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Wild Horse Reservoir

Wild Horse Reservoir

Project Updates

Update 6/24/22

We're still planning on having firmer timelines for the project late summer or early fall. At this time, we do not have any additional information when construction will begin or end, what the potential recreationally opportunities could be at the reservoir or how this project may impact the roads. We're keenly aware that many people are interested in this project and we will post updates just as soon as we have that information.

Update 2/14/22

Our consultant, Tetra Tech, is analyzing the core samples from the borings competed last year. Additional geotech work, including trenching, will occur this summer. Pipeline alternatives are moving forward as is dam facility design. A feasibility meeting was held on January 24 to review both the dam design and pipelines. The feasibility design for the dam should be completed in late summer, and by the end of the year for the pipeline.

Update 09/08/21

Our consultant, Tetra Tech, is  back to get more borings to help inform our decision on dam sizing and location. They will be on the site through most of the fall. All activity is occurring on property owned by Aurora Water. 

Update 02/26/21

We're still reviewing the data from the Geological and Geotechnical Investigations referenced in the 10/27/2020 update. Our consultant, Tetra Tech, will be back in the area to continue these investigations this summer.

Update 10/27/2020
Core drilling activities at the proposed Wild Horse Reservoir site

It’s been a while since we’ve had an update on the proposed Wild Horse Reservoir in Park County. Earlier this year, Aurora Water retained Tetra Tech as our consultant to perform Geological and Geotechnical Investigations. Understanding the site’s geology is critical, especially when you’re talking about a reservoir that could be up to 96,000 acre feet in size.

Since the weather window in Park County is short, Tetra Tech’s crews and subcontractors went to work as soon as they were authorized. Between July 27 and October 2, they completed 16 borings to depths between 150 and 300 feet, taking core samples to tell the story of how the area was formed over millions of years. 26 observation wells are in place to help model groundwater activity, and injection and pumps tests were performed so we could understand the potential for water loss through the reservoir bottom. Gravity measurements were also taken at 885 stations to provide a better understanding of the subsurface geology.

While the results of these investigations are still preliminary, they did confirm that the proposed site, located immediately southwest of Aurora Water’s Spinney Mountain Reservoir, was heavily influenced by volcanic activity over many millenniums. Several known faults were identified and explored for activity rate.

In the end, what does this all mean? We’ll know more in early spring after the data from the investigation have been analyzed, but we’re fairly confident that this site will support what will be Aurora Waters’ largest reservoir. We should also have an updated preliminary footprint for the reservoir, which can help us plan for the design and permitting phases and help us define a timeline for construction.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Getting water to you

Aurora is the state leader in water conservation and innovative water solutions. We have to be. Aurora is the third largest city in Colorado, yet it’s not located by a major water source. We must rely on a complex system and multiple strategies to ensure our community has the water it needs.

Most of Aurora’s water travels long distances to get to your tap. We store that water in multiple reservoirs and release it as needed. Our successful conservation and reuse efforts have helped us to stretch our limited and valuable water supplies. Our customers have embraced the conservation ethic by cutting individual water use 36 percent since 2000. Aurora was an early adopter of using reclaimed water for irrigating parks and golf courses, and was the first city in Colorado to implement water reuse for drinking water with our Prairie Waters system.

In order to protect our community against droughts and to enhance the reliability of our aging water system, Aurora Water needs to store more water in the mid-2020s for delivery to our customers. Colorado’s extreme weather patterns are producing more intense droughts followed by very wet years. Reservoirs are our water savings accounts. We bank “extra” water in wet years, as well as the water we save through conservation, to use in dry times.

A new reservoir

To increase storage capacity, we are evaluating a proposed new reservoir located in Park County. Named Wild Horse Reservoir, the site is west of Aurora’s Spinney Mountain Reservoir. The area is mostly undeveloped and unpopulated high plains grassland and does not have a stream or river running through it.

Wild Horse Reservoir
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The reservoir would be filled with water Aurora currently transports through the Otero pipeline. It would then travel to Spinney Mountain Reservoir before making its way to Aurora.

There are a number of significant benefits of this project and location:

  • Enhances reliability: Wild Horse Reservoir will provide critical and needed storage for our existing system, which is working well but is getting old. Wild Horse will help provide uninterrupted water delivery when other older reservoirs need to be taken off line for routine maintenance, repairs or emergencies.

  • Cost effective: Due to the geography and proximity to existing infrastructure, the project is very cost effective.

  • No new water needed for reservoir: The reservoir would be filled using water Aurora already owns the rights to -- no new water rights are being sought for this project.

  • Few environmental impacts: The area is high plains grassland with very few trees. Because it is not located on a river or stream and would be filled with water already flowing through an existing pipe, it would not dam or impact any existing rivers or streams.

For more information, contact us at [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What recreational facilities will be at Wild Horse Reservoir?
It's too early to know what recreation facilities will be at Wild Horse Reservoir, or even how these would be managed.

It appears from the map that several county roads will be impacted How will I get access to my private property?
While the map we display on our Fact Sheet and website is very preliminary, we will work with Park County on any road realignments.

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