South Platte Gravel Pit Storage System

South Platte Gravel Pit Storage System


Thornton, Colorado

The City of Thornton identified a need for approximately 30,000 acre-feet of South Platte River storage between Thornton and Greeley, Colorado to implement its Northern Project. Prior to Thornton’s Northern Project coming online, the City developed a plan for use of South Platte River storage.


Identifying a possible gravel pit storage site.

Deere & Ault’s staff assisted the City of Thornton in identifying gravel pit storage sites, conducting feasibility studies of the pits, filing water rights applications, and providing litigation support in Water Court.

The plan includes storage of the reusable portion of water generated by potable water use within the City, storage of consumptive use water owned or controlled by the City that cannot be immediately used within the City, and storage of a new water right. The water stored in the South Platte gravel pits would either be exchanged upstream to Thornton facilities and used at the water treatment plants or pumped directly to the water treatment plants.

Deere & Ault’s staff assisted in field surveys, posted signs at the new points of diversion and storage, and assisted in preparation of the Water Court application in Case No. 91CW126. Our firm provided litigation support for the application, including expert witness testimony.

Deere & Ault assisted in the development of a plan for exchange of the water stored in the South Platte gravel pits to raw water storage facilities near the City’s water treatment plants. Our staff aided the City in their South Platte River exchange application filed in Case No. 96CW1116, and in negotiating a settlement with objectors in this case. A decree has been obtained by Thornton in this case.

Deere & Ault’s staff also researched the Division of Minerals and Geology (previously known as the Mined Land Reclamation Board) records and conducted field investigations to identify suitable gravel pit storage sites. Based on this information, volumes at 12 gravel pit storage sites were estimated. A computer model was developed and operated to estimate the volume of water that could be stored in each of these reservoirs under a 1991 water right appropriation.

Client:  City of Thornton, Colorado

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