A Short History of the Pine Brook Water District
The Pine Brook Hills subdivision was formed in 1960. The original homes each had their own well, however early on it became very obvious that every home having its own well was going to create problems. First, not all properties who drilled wells were finding water or adequate water. Second, based on the number of lots, the wells were going to interfere with each other which meant that all of the wells would be negatively impacted.
The residents and property owners decided that the best long term solution was to form their own public water system.
The District was first voted into existence in 1963 and the first water mains and water tanks were installed in 1964. At that time, there were maybe 30 homes. The District pumped all of its water from deep wells.
By the late 1970’s, the District knew that it had to have additional water to supply the area not only because the wells could not produce an adequate supply for the homes under normal circumstances, but also because of the droughts, the amount of water that could be produced from the deep wells was less. The resident’s usages were below the national average and the water rates were designed to promote wise water use. To this day, the community’s average use is below the national average.
Around 1980, the District purchased surface water rights outside of the District, which it then treated and pumped into the District to serve the residents. The District still used the water from the deep wells to supplement this new supply. This system seemed to be adequate even during nominal droughts.
2002 brought the worst drought the area had seen in anyone’s memory and the District’s surface water supply dried up for 63 days straight. The deep wells were also affected by this drought with their production rates dropping off daily and some of the wells actually having to be shut down because they could no longer produce water.
The District had an adequate amount of surface water rights available to it, just no place to store them. The District had studied many alternatives over its history trying to find an adequate solution for its water supply problems. And so the idea to build our own reservoir was born. After much discussion and deliberation it was decided that building the reservoir in the District itself was the best solution.
The District presented the information to the residents and in May of 2004 held an election for the residents to approve the funding of the project (and therefore the project itself). Approximately 75% of the eligible voters voted and passed the measure by a 3 to 1 margin.
The District then obtained the necessary permits from the Boulder County Commissioners and the State of Colorado. Design began January of 2005 and construction commenced in July of 2005. By June of 2006 the District was able to shut the outlet valve to the reservoir and began filling it.
All of the water served to the community is taken from the reservoir and treated at a water treatment plant that is located just below the reservoir. After pre-treatment the water is filtered by Ultra Filtration Membranes.
The benefits of the reservoir have been many:
1. The District now has one of the most reliable water supplies in the State.
2. The District is now able to move its surface water to the reservoir when there is more than adequate water at its diversion point.
3. The District no longer has to worry about its surface water supply going dry and thereby interrupting its ability to produce water.
4. By moving its surface water when the stream flows at its diversion point are more than adequate and not taking water during low flows, the District is helping protect the environment along that stream.
5. The water from the reservoir has less hardness than the deep wells did.
6. Two of the deep wells had arsenic in the water, enough that to meet water quality standards only one of these wells could be used at a time.
7. The wells never fully recovered from the drought of 2002 and then were negatively impacted by the flood of 2013. In 2017 the wells were fully abandoned as the reservoir at that point had shown to be so dependable that wells were no longer needed.
8. During the Four Mile Canyon Fire of 2010 helicopters dipped water from the reservoir to use in fighting this major fire, the firefighting efforts were so successful that the fire was stopped before entering Pine Brook Hills.
9. During the major flood of 2013 (this flood was in excess of a 100 year flood event) the reservoir held back much of the flood waters and mitigated the peak flows which meant that there was much less damage below the reservoir (including in the City of Boulder) than there would have been without the reservoir.
The Pine Brook Water District has had to deal with three major disasters:
1. The drought of 2002, considered close to a 300 year drought event, is the closest the District had ever come to completely running out of water. With the addition of the reservoir the District is prepared to handle droughts while serving all of the homes with reasonable levels of water service/use.
2. The Four Mile Canyon Fire of 2010 burned and impacted 40% of our primary water shed. These type of fires caused changes to the raw water quality which in turn meant that the District had to change how it treated the raw water to make it into potable water that mets all of the Safe Drinking Water Standards.
3. The flood of 2013 was such a major event that it too created real changes to the raw water quality. Which again meant that further changes had to be made to the water treatment plant which were completed in 2015. The final repairs/projects from this flood event were only finally completed in 2019.
There are now over 400 homes in the District, all being served by water from the reservoir.