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Colorado Springs Utilities explains low water level in Rampart Reservoir

Broken intake pipe cited as factor

Broken pipe not drought or demand...

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Some people have asked whether the current drought, the hot dry summer or increased customer demand are responsible for the lower-than-normal water level in Rampart Reservoir.

Those people also wonder if the utility's water supply is running out and will lead to water restrictions.

But Abby Ortega, water resource manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, said there's nothing to worry about.

"The low level is because of a pipe that we use to fill the reservoir," she said.  "It broke earlier this year and was down for six weeks.  Because of that, the reservoir is 3 million gallons down from where it should be.  Right now, it's at 60 percent capacity.  Normally, it's at around 75 percent."

Ortega said the reservoir won't return to its normal level until next spring.

"It's not a problem because we have other sources of water to use," she said.  "In fact, throughout our system, we have a three-year supply in storage."

Another concern is whether there's also enough water in the reservoir to fight a wildfire; the reservoir is next to the Waldo Canyon burn scar.

"My concern is whether I can get bucket drops from helicopters into the water and get enough," said Michael Myers, the utility's fire chief.  "Right now, I think I can say we have enough water for customers and in the event of a fire."

Myers said the low water level makes the reservoir more vulnerable to reduced water quality from erosion and flash flooding.

For safety reasons related to the low water level, the reservoir's boat ramp will close Sunday evening and remain closed for the rest of the season.

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