1. Does the lake have a hole in it?
No. As in all lakes, evaporation occurs and water levels go down. Evaporation accelerates as the lake gets warmer. Rain, snow and water added to the lake by 4 natural springs on its northwest side offset the loss by evaporation. In wet times, the lake rises. In dry times it falls. During an average year the lake level will fall.
2. Does the lake need a liner?
No. During wet years, the lake has natural springs that seep through the soil and fills the lake. If the lake was lined, these springs would be cut off and the trapped water would become a problem.
3. If we fill the lake, will it just go dry again in a few years?
Water needs to be added during most years to replace net evaporative loss. In wet years the lake has maintained itself. The lake had been filled regularly by a pipe from the reservoir for over 100 years.
4. Why did The Town of Palmer Lake stop filling the lake with the water from the reservoir?
In 2001, the town felt that it was illegal to fill the lake with reservoir water. The Awake Palmer Lake committee is now exploring that option again because water law is not clear cut.
5. Is any of the reservoir water owned by Palmer Lake and if so, how much?
Yes, up to 147.5 acre feet each year. The town has winter storage rights which run from Nov. 15th to Mar.15th, which allows Palmer Lake to fill the lake during these periods. Palmer Lake can use 147.5 acre feet of water any time of the year.
6. What happens to the water going over the dam at the lower reservoir?
Downstream users have rights to that water as does Palmer Lake. It depends on the date of the right as to which entity has the right to use it on a specific day. The oldest rights are allowed to use their amount of water before any younger rights if they so choose. This is called the doctrine of “prior appropriation”. Please go to www.cfwe.org and order the Colorado Foundation for water education Citizens guides for further information on all aspects of water law, science and procedures.
7. How old are Palmer Lake’s water rights?
The town has 3 separate surface water rights. The oldest and most senior is the “Anchor Ditch Right” which was appropriated (authorized) 3-1-1867. It is very senior and only has been called out during extreme drought such as in 2002. The next senior is the “TOPL Water System” appropriated 2-1-1887, which gets called out more frequently than the Anchor Ditch. However, it has not been called out in 2007 (through June and perhaps longer). The Glen Park reservoir decree for storing water (see 5Q) was appropriated 11-25-1904 and is rarely called out because it is filled during winter months when demand is low. The water in the reservoir is always available for use if present from the winter fill. Please click on www.cfwe.org and order the Colorado Foundation for water education Citizen’s guides for further information on all aspects of water law, science and procedures.
8. How much water does the lake hold when it’s full?
Approximately 110 acre feet.
9. Why would we fill our lake if the aquifers are going dry?
Although a quick and easy solution, there are no plans to use ancient aquifer water to fill the lake. Awake Palmer Lake prefers a long term solution to using Palmer Lake’s plentiful surface water rights.
10. Do Palmer Lake citizens have to choose between drinking water and water in our lake?
No. Any plan to fill the lake would be done as needed. Drinking water would always have the highest priority and the town would never be forced to fill the lake. The methods that Awake Palmer Lake recommends do not use any water that has been filtered or treated in the towns water system.
11. The Lake looked pretty good in 2006 without adding water. Why should we add water?
The Tri-Lakes region has received rain and snow well above average beginning summer, 2006. We can’t depend on that happening every year. Without rain the lake evaporates at a rate of 3 feet per year, mostly in the summers. For climatic updates, go to www.ourcommunitynews.org and read Bill Kappel’s monthly weather column.
Several years of winter drought without any subsidizing have left the lake virtually empty. It is now time to explore long term, viable options to restore and maintain the lake to its former prominence.
New Additions to the FAQ added below on 6/12/14
Doesn’t storm water drain into the lake?
Storm water inflow to the natural lake that Palmer Lake indeed is, needs to be addressed. Historically, storm water flows entered the lake primarily from the West, but also to a limited extent from the East. Development and alterations to natural flows under the railroad tracks have altered these historical storm water flows. When it rains now, storm water no longer flows into the lake from surrounding hillsides, but rather flows North to the West Plum Creek Drainage (where is never used to go), and to a lesser extent South, to the Monument Creek Drainage, where county wide storm water management issues continue to arise. Restoration of the natural flow patters may take adding culverts and redirecting flows into the lake that have been blocked by development, roads or the railroad over the years. Although this issue has been considered we have not yet developed a specific plan to redirect the water mostly due to time and budget issues. We are looking for expertise to help us develop a solution.
Is there a plan for water acquisition?
Water purchases, water rights, and railroad water rights are all being addressed. We are currently in Water Court attempting to rekindle the old railroad right. This is a long process and our case is not scheduled to be heard until 2015. We have taken into consideration the fact that our only option may be to purchase water to fill and offset evaporation in the future.
What about lake-bed seepage?
We are currently in the midst of a geological study designed to give us an underground cross section of what is actually below Palmer Lake and what steps will be needed to ensure that any lake-bed seepage is held to a minimum. You can view the results of phase one of the study at: https://awakepalmerlake.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/DUBY-REPORT-3-12-14.pdf
We will also be drilling 4-7 monitoring wells this Summer (approximately 30’ to bedrock), for additional soil samples and to complete our cross section. These wells will also assist in providing us the ability to measure the seasonal water flow in the future, a huge problem that must be resolved before purchased water is added to lake.
Is there any discussion on a smaller lake?
Surface area of a deep, smaller lake minimizes evaporation. The possibility has been broached that starting with a smaller sealed lake (possibly 25% of current surface area) may be feasible. After getting this established we can look to expand lake at a later date. The results of our study will determine where, when and if this is feasible.