Wild Horse Reservoir

Wild Horse Reservoir

Project Updates

Updated 010/27/2020
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 WildHorseReservoir@auroragov.org

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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