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Balancing water needs and growth in Colorado's Chatfield Reservoir

Our Colorado: Chatfield expansion prompts concern
Posted: 4:32 PM, May 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-25 00:02:42Z

Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' stories help natives and newcomers navigate the challenges related to our rapidly growing state, including real estate and development, homelessness, transportation and more. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at  OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com . See more 'Our Colorado' stories  here .

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The open spaces and lush green terrain at the Chatfield Reservoir serve as a draw for Gene and Polly Reetz, both volunteers for the Audubon Society.

"Swim, or hike, or watch birds, if you have a boat you can go boating," said Polly.

Yet the couple fears a construction project to build additional areas to hold water will ruin the place in the near future.

It’s a project that supporters argue is necessary in order to store water in a state that is in the midst of a population boom and a drought.     

"I think aesthetically, it's going to be a very different kind of park with mud flats instead of this rich riparian vegetation," said Gene.

Along with the Audubon Society, they fear that by getting rid of the green space around the reservoir, all of nature will be hurt... including the animals.

“When you destroy the habitat, or alter it, so that it's no longer usable for them, there really isn't any other place to go, because other areas are already full too," said Polly.

Which is why the Audubon society has gone to court.

They want a judge to throw out a previous decision allowing the project to move forward, saying among other things, that it violates the Clean Water Act.

A hearing will take place in September.

The Army Corps of Engineers is not commenting as the case is in litigation

"Audubon recognizes the region is growing, and so were not against developing additional water supplies," said Gene. He is pushing for more water conservation and alternative storage sites other than Chatfield.      

"There are areas where they could have stored water with less environmental impact," he said.

For now, the construction continues.

A balance between progress and preservation in our growing Colorado.