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.
DENVER – In Colorado, water is often treated like gold. While our population is growing, our water supply is not. In fact, in dry years, it seems as if it is shrinking. That can make maintaining a consistent supply of drinking water a challenge for water utilities.
To help alleviate some of that concern, Denver Water will have increased the amount of treated water they can store at their Hillcrest Treated Water Storage Facility by 50 percent once the last of three new 15-million gallon tanks is put online in just a few weeks.
The tanks sit just west of I-25 between Hampden and Quincy. They are quite large – about 30-feet high and 300-feet across. Each can hold the equivalent of 70 Olympic size swimming pools full of water. While Denver Water has 30 similar tanks in the metro area, these are some of the biggest.
“The Hillcrest Treated Water Storage facility is about 25 percent of the treated water that we store throughout our system,” Denver Water spokesperson Travis Thompson told Denver7 on a recent tour of the site.
The three tanks are replacing two similar sized tanks that have been on the site for about 50 years.
“The site's about 40 acres, so back in the day they did some serious planning on keeping some extra space so we could actually build the new tanks while keeping the old ones in service,” construction manager Dan Batt added.
The original tanks and pumphouse will eventually be demolished, but they’re not being replaced just yet due to age and technology. The expanded storage is needed because of the growing water needs in Denver Water’s service area.
“As part of what Denver water looks at when it's investing in its infrastructure is not only to maintain the water service and reliability of today, but also of tomorrow,” Thompson said.
Right now, Denver Water serves about 1.4 million customers in Denver and surrounding communities.
In the winter, those customers can use about 100 million gallons of water a day. In spring or fall, that usage can climb to about 200 million gallons. But in the summer when everyone is watering their lawns, that number can grow to 350 to 400 million gallons.
To put that in perspective, the new huge tanks built at Hillcrest would have to be filled and emptied nine times each day to keep up with that kind of demand.
Denver Water says customers have done a great job in recent years of conserving water. While they are expanding the Hillcrest Treated Water Storage Facility, they have downsized other parts of their system where water usage has dropped due to conservation.