Lake no-longer-gone – Awake the lake plan to refill lake
with well water meets flood of approval

By Sarah Colwell
The Slice
Published March 23, 2005

The volunteer Awake the Lake Committee in charge of refilling Palmer Lake is riding the tide of public support, and hopes to begin pumping water into the lake by April.

The Palmer Lake Town Board and more than 80 percent of town residents responding to a recent survey support refilling the lake with well water.

“We took an opinion poll and the results were so strong and so positive it shows this is what people want to do, “ATL committee chairman Jeff Hulsmann said.

“It shows the lake is important historically, for heritage and for beauty.”

Last Friday the committee began mailing fliers to about 5,700 residents of Palmer Lake and surrounding areas to generate awareness and donations.

The ATL committee tentatively planned an April 9 fundraising event called the Big Splash where anyone can fill decorated containers with water to pour into the lake. A prize will be given to the person with most creative container.

The Palmer Lake Fire Department is already planning to use a fire hose to spray water into the lake, and Lewis-Palmer District 38 elementary school kids are building containers.

The committee hopes to attract more than 1,000 people as well as local and national news media attention.

“It will be a fun event and if we can get enough people at the lake, other people will see us and say ‘wow, look at what these people are doing to save their lake,” Hulsmann said. “It only takes one person to write a large check for us to get enough money.”

The ATL committee needs to raise $25,000 to refill the lake.

The committee wants to start pumping well water by April 9 to ensure the lake’s water level is high enough and temperature cool enough to support fish by June, which is the Department of Wildlife’s deadline for donating fish to the town.

It will take about 45 days of pumping 100 gallons of water-per-minute to refill the 10-acre lake, Hulsmann said.

The committee is looking into using the historical society fountain to shoot water into the dry lake bed.

Before pumping can begin, however, the town needs a state-issued well discharge permit, and must have a dechlorination system in place.

The committee is organizing a volunteer crew to place a temporary structure in the Palmer Lake regional recreation area for the dechlorination system. Volunteers will also help lay a short section of pipe connecting the town’s well-water system to the dechlorination building and then the lake.

Volunteers saved the town significant expense, but the committee plans to ask for financial assistance from the town and El Paso County, Hulsmann said.

Volunteer geologists Kim Makower and Ron Turner conducted and independent geological survey of the lake’s condition and discovered some encouraging news.

The lake level rose significantly since the last study in December 2004, Makower said.

Many of the lake’s 35 natural springs are seeping water along its west side and possibly its east side.

Makower also found water collecting north of the lake, west of the railroad tracks.

“Historic and natural surface drainage has been disrupted by roads and rails north and west of the lake (from) Hackett Ditch, diverting surface water away from the lake and into Carpenter Creek in Douglas County,” Makower said.

Makower suggested installing gauges to monitor lake water levels and to install pipes to allow surface water and hill run-off to restore the lake’s natural in-flows.

The committee plans to explore restoring natural drainage; Turner offered to donate gauges for the town.

Makower and Turner will continue their study to find a more permanent solution to keeping water in the lake.

“When we get to water court to get storage rights having up-to-date information is important,” Hulsmann said.