Getting water to Palmer Lake a matter of logistics and money

By Bryan Grossman
Tribune
Published March 23, 2005

With recent approval from the Palmer Lake trustees to fill the town’s lake with non-tributary water, the Awake the Lake committee met with a sense of urgency March 15.

The committee discussed a list of opportunities for and prerequisites to getting drinking water from Palmer Lake’s D-2 well into the lake bed before the summer months arrive.

According to committee chairperson Jeff Hulsmann, the greatest amount of fundraising should take place between now and the end of March.

The committee has produced a mailer asking for donations to help offset the costs of constructing and equipping a dechorinization station and purchasing water from the town.

The committee manufactured approximately 5,700 mailers and began mailing them March 18. The requests for donations were sent to households within 80132 and 80133 postal routes at a cost that fell just under $1,500.

According to Hulsmann, some postal routes within the 80132 zip code, including areas such as Black Forest, probably will not see a mailer. He also said the committee received its first pledge via the ATL Web site (www.awakethelake.com) on March 20.

Hulsmann said he would like to hold a “Big Splash” event to coincide with the opening of the tap to augment the lake. The event would invite those concerned with the lake’s condition to bring a full container of water to the lake shores and then dump them into the lake.

“I would like the Big Splash event to happen on April 9. So that’s also the date I would like to see water flowing into the lake,” Hulsmann said.

Hulsmann added that he would hope to see around 1,000 people participate in the event in an effort to garner not just local, but national media attention.

“Come with a watering can, come with a teapot. Just come,” Hulsmann said.

Addressing the ongoing concern over seepage around the lake’s rim, geologist and committee member Kim Makower set up a demonstration using dirt and rock samples pulled from the lake. Makower said he thinks the lake is capable of retaining a significant amount of water following a fill, and that evaporation seems to be the main cause behind the parched lake bed.

“I think it was appropriate for town council to put off the sealing of the lake,” Kim Makower said, referring to the council’s decision to fill the lake partially and monitor its levels before filling it completely.

Makower also pointed out that the water level within the lake bed has risen significantly over the past couple of month, and that development seems to have curbed the amount of moisture flowing to the lake.

Makower said, ideally, it would be telling to allow the lake to continue to fill as it has been—with no augmentation—before assisting the filling with well water. The eventual filling cost would be less because less water would be needed, and those studying the lake could determine how long ground water has taken to recharge the natural springs that have fed the lake for thousands of years.

According to Makower, the current flow into the lake could be from snow melt or from the exceptionally wet summer of 2004.

Hulsmann agreed that waiting would be an ideal scenario, but said he was concerned the wait would make the water’s temperature inhospitable to stocking certain fish species such as trout.
“I don’t think putting water in now would block the springs,” Makower said. “I think it would obscure the scientific picture of where the water is coming from and at what level … I think we could accommodate (Hulsmann’s) timeframe.”

Ron Turner, a hydrologist with K-S & Company, Inc., said his company would be willing to donate staff gauges, devices used to monitor the water levels, if the town would install the gauges. Thompson said the installations would be relatively easy and cheap.

The ATL committee is still in the process of filing a minimal discharge permit for the dechorinization shed. The discharge permit will take 3-4 weeks to process, Hulsmann said. Once augmentation begins, it is estimated the lake will take between 45-60 days to fill.

Hulsmann said it is imperative the lake is filled by June 1 in order for the Department of Wildlife to stock the lake for the town’s annual fishing derby—the largest in the state.