Denver Water

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Dillon Reservoir, Denver's largest water storage facility

Denver Water serves 1.4 million people in the City and County of Denver, Colorado and a portion of its surrounding suburbs. Established in 1918, the utility is a public agency funded by water rates and new tap fees, not taxes. It is Colorado's oldest and largest water utility.[1]


Denver Water's primary water sources are the South Platte River, Blue River, Williams Fork and Fraser River watersheds, but it also uses water from the South Boulder Creek, Ralston Creek and Bear Creek watersheds.[2]


A five-member Board of Water Commissioners is appointed by the mayor of Denver to six-year terms. This board ultimately controls Denver Water. The Board of Water Commissioners in turn designates a manager who is in charge of day-to-day operations.[3] As of September 2016, the five commissioners were Greg Austin, John Lucero, Paula Herzmark, Tom Gougeon, and Penfield Tate.[4]


The first residents of the Denver area drank water directly from the creek and river. Surface wells and buckets of water sufficed for a while as a delivery system, but they soon proved inadequate. Irrigation ditches were the next step forward.[5]

In 1870, when the rapidly growing community had a population of almost 5,000, the Denver City Water Company was formed. In 1872, with a large well, a steam pump and four miles (6 km) of mains, Denver City Water Company began to provide water to homes. Over the next two decades, 10 water companies fought, collapsed or merged. Several companies merged, and in 1894, the Denver Union Water Company — predecessor of Denver Water — emerged to establish a stable system.

In 1918, Denver residents voted to form a five-member Board of Water Commissioners and buy the Denver Union Water Company's water system for $14 million, creating Denver Water. From that time on, Denver Water planned and developed a system to meet the needs of the people of Denver and the surrounding areas.[5]

Conserve, Recycle, Develop New Supplies[edit]

Denver Water serves about a quarter of the state's population but uses less than two percent of all water, treated and untreated, in Colorado.[6]

Denver Water also no longer relies on only one option – building new reservoirs – to ensure customers always have the water they need. Instead, it has a diverse plan to meet those future needs: conserve, recycle and develop new supplies.

Conserve Denver Water invests millions of dollars into conservation programs to encourage customers to reduce their use. The utility provides rebates to customers who buy water-efficient fixtures, conducts free audits of homes and businesses that use high amounts of water, provides incentive contracts for large-scale consumers to reduce their water consumption and enforces watering rules.[7]

Recycle Recycled water from Denver Water's recycled water distribution system supplies industrial and irrigation customers with nonpotable water, thereby freeing up drinking water for other purposes and reducing trans-mountain diversions. Once build-out is complete, the project will supply more than five billion gallons of recycled water every year — water for irrigation, for industrial use, for lakes in our parks and for golf courses — water we don’t have to take from a reservoir. There are more than a dozen wastewater recycling programs in Colorado, and Denver Water operates the largest recycled water system in Colorado.[8]

Develop Denver Water has plans to expand Gross Reservoir, which will address a looming supply shortage and improve the reliability of Denver Water’s system.[9] Denver Water also is turning gravel pits to water storage sites, which allows it to store and release reusable water to meet downstream water requirements.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  2. ^ "Collection System | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  3. ^ "Board & Organization | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  4. ^ "Board of Water Commissioners | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  5. ^ a b "History | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  6. ^ "Key Facts | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  7. ^ "Conservation". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  8. ^ "Recycled Water | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  9. ^ "Gross Reservoir Expansion Project | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  10. ^ "Downstream Reservoir Project | Denver Water". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 

External links[edit]