December 27, 2022

Erie to use Windy Gap return flows as part of wetlands project

ERIE — The town of Erie plans to use a small amount of its Windy Gap water — likely return flows — to assure that the water rights of others are not impacted by the creation of a wetlands park.

The Town Board approved as part of its consent agenda on Dec. 13 a plan to direct its staff to apply to the Weld County District Court water division for approval to use its water rights to augment flows in Coal Creek and Boulder Creek that could be impacted by the wetlands project.

The town plans to create the wetlands park and a stormwater holding feature when it reclaims a former water treatment plant. The project will consume storm water runoff and potentially alluvial groundwater.

The town estimates that the potential impact could be 11.53 acre feet of water per year. The town owns 20 units of the Windy Gap project, with each unit including 100 acre feet. Unlike water from the Colorado-Big Thompson water project — which carries a single-use requirement — Windy Gap water can be used and reused “to extinction.” 

Erie under this plan would take treated effluent from its primary uses of Windy Gap water to deliver back to streams that could be affected by the wetlands project. This would prevent harm to any downstream users of water from Boulder Creek.

The exchange of water, however, requires water court approval, which the town will seek as a result of the town board decision.