Douglas County development plans rainwater collection program

Natasha Lovato

Natasha Lovato / NewsBreak Denver

(Littleton, Colo.) Despite a convoluted web of Colorado and water rights legislation, Dominion Water and Sanitation District plans to pilot a rainwater collection program in Sterling Ranch. 

Andrea Cole, Dominion Water General manager, said Dominion is in early planning for the rainwater collection program. The company's data shows rainwater collection is an efficient conservation method.

"What we've found is that we can collect more rainwater than we have a beneficial use for," Cole said. 

Cole said single-family homes in Sterling Ranch use less than the average amount of water for their homes, so Dominion wants to use rainwater collection for parks but will collect more water than the company needs.

"The parks right now within Sterling Ranch are not big enough, there's not a large enough demand and there's more rainwater than we can put to use, so we took a step back and thought, we could have something bigger like a soccer field that will have a larger demand to put to use all the water we can collect," she said.

Cole hopes to one day bring that excess rainwater to treatment plants for potable use or store it in Chatfield Lake, but those logistics are years down the line. First, Dominion has to figure out what is legally allowed regarding rainwater collecting.

Cole explained that the laws between the Water Court and legislation between rainwater and stormwater harvesting make what Dominion wants to do complicated at best. 

"What we are focused on upfront is going back to the legislature to get an understanding of how rainwater harvesting and the stormwater act can be read together," she said.

Cole added that Dominion is discussing with the Mile High Flood District how they can work together to make runoff water a statewide resource beyond Sterling Ranch.

"We need to be smarter and wiser on how we use our limited water and this is another one of those levers we have to pull to minimize our impact," she said.

Dominion collected data to take to the Water Court and Colorado Legislature to show that the rainwater collection will not harm senior water rights holders. If legislation can parse out a more distinct legal definition between rainwater and stormwater, then Dominion can proceed with collection.

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