Long-term planning has always been a key element in our ability to meet customers’ needs in a rapidly growing, semi-arid region. Today’s customers benefit from a very reliable water system, much of which was planned decades ago.
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), examines water collection, treatment, distribution and recycling systems, and provides guidance about what will be needed in the future. It scrutinizes water-demand projections and demand-management alternatives, as well as water-supply options and alternatives.
In 1997, Denver Water issued its first IRP. In 2002, the IRP was revised to encompass new challenges to the water system. In 2008, Denver Water embarked on developing a new IRP to help guide decisions related to the water system over the next 40 years.
The new IRP will consider a broader range of issues than in the past, including:
- Potential challenges to the water system, such as climate change; more severe and frequent droughts; changes in demographics and water use patterns; changes to watersheds, including beetle kill and forest fires; Colorado River water shortages; and economic and regulatory changes
- New opportunities for conservation, water-use efficiency and environmental enhancements
- The frequency of water-use restrictions for customers
- Water quality
- Priorities for improving and maintaining the water treatment and distribution systems.
A wide variety of supply and demand management methods available to Denver Water will be considered. These methods include conservation, non-potable water recycling, expansion or development of new water supply and storage projects, system refinements and cooperative projects with other entities. They are all aimed at meeting the future water needs of our customers. The plan will account for a water supply “safety factor” in case extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances arise.
The new IRP will examine three types of costs for its water strategies: financial, environmental and social, a process called “triple bottom-line” analysis.
In 2012, efforts to complete the new IRP were put on hold pending the outcome of the federal regulatory process for enlarging Gross Reservoir. When the IRP process began in 2008, we assumed we would have a federal permit to enlarge Gross Reservoir. Denver Water has been informed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the decision whether to issue an enlargement permit was being delayed until sometime in 2013.
Denver Water’s near- and long-term strategies being analyzed in the IRP process assume that Gross Reservoir will be enlarged to meet critical water system needs. If the enlargement does not occur, many of the potential conclusions in the draft IRP would be invalid. Therefore, the Board elected to suspend efforts to complete the IRP pending the outcome of the federal regulatory permitting process for the Gross Reservoir enlargement project.
Despite the suspension of efforts on the new IRP, the staff and Board made a number of findings that are applicable with or without completion of Gross Reservoir enlargement, which will guide us in the short-term. Please see the June 2012 update to the IRP for more information.
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