Water Resource issues in Colorado present significant challenges for municipalities, special districts, developers and private land owners. Whether it be developing a sustainable water supply for a growing municipality, helping a land developer navigate the ever growing labyrinth of city, county, state and federal stormwater and floodplain regulations, or helping a property owner address stream bank erosion, SGM has the expertise and experience to provide a wide range of water resource engineering services.
Perhaps nowhere else in the world has water rights administration evolved to the level it has in Colorado. Water rights in Colorado are governed by Colorado’s prior appropriation doctrine of “first in time, first in right”. The numerous laws, treaties, compacts and precedent-setting court cases that regulate water rights administration have made water rights engineering in Colorado a highly specialized service. Our understanding of Colorado Water Rights combined with our expansive knowledge of all aspects of water management, such as the collection, treatment and distribution of drinking water, gives SGM a unique perspective when approaching water resources challenges.
- Augmentation Plans
- Demand/Depletion Analysis
- Exchange Plans
- Change of Use Plans
- Diligence Support
- Year-end DWR water usage reporting for Mid Valley Metro District and Roaring Fork Water & Sanitation District
- Sunlight Mountain Resort Water Resources Analyses and Plan for Augmentation (Decreed 07CW058)
Forest health, climate variability, population growth, endangered species, declining water quality, increasing regulations, increasing cost and decreasing revenues…addressing water supply issues in Colorado can be a daunting task. SGM has been helping clients develop safe, legal, reliable water supplies for over 30 years. SGM provides a multi-disciplinary approach to water projects at all stages of planning, study, design and construction. By combining our expertise in hydrology, hydraulics, water rights and water treatment with an intimate understanding of each client’s unique water demand, infrastructure and financial situation, SGM develops innovative solutions to water supply challenges of all sizes.
- Water demand projections
- Integrated water resource plans
- Watershed protection
- Water conservation
- Water Resource Planning
- Collection system analysis and design
- Distribution system analysis
- Drinking water treatment
- Water Master Plans: Town of Buena Vista, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Town of Granby, Town of Carbondale, Sunlight Mountain Resort
- Mid Valley Metro District Comprehensive Water Rights Report to satisfy the requirements of House Bill 08-1141 (C.R.S. §29-20-304) and C.R.S. §30-28-133(3) (c) and (d)
- Strang Rural Land Development Water Supply Plan and Report which addressed the water supply for the 8 new undeveloped lots and fulfilled the requirements of Sections 7-104 and 7-105 of the Garfield County 2008 Unified Land Use Resolution
- Town/District Engineer for the Town of Basalt, Town of Granby, Town of New Castle, Town of Rangely, Town of Snowmass Village, Mid-Valley Metropolitan District, Roaring Fork Water and Sanitation District, Silt Water Conservancy District, Skyland Metropolitan District and Starwood Metropolitan District, Snowmass Water and Sanitation District
Colorado is known for its rugged natural environment that provides unparalleled recreational opportunities, abundant natural resouces and spectacular landscapes. One component of preserving these precious resources is prudent stormwater management. With increasingly stringent regulations and a particular emphasis on water quality, the challenges of reducing, controlling and treating stormwater runoff have become significant. SGM’s team of engineers is experienced in all phases of stormwater management, from planning to design to construction. We combine this expertise with our thorough understating of the land development process to develop simple, cost-effective solutions to meet our client’s stormwater management needs.
- Drainage Master Plans
- Drainage system design
- Hydraulic structure design
- Erosion/Sediment control
- Hydrologic/Hydraulic modeling
- Mack Master Drainage Plan
- Snowmass Entryway
- Erosion Control Plan for Snowmass Employee Housing
- Review of Aspen’s Stormwater Regulations
While Colorado is well known for its arid climate and numerous sunny days, it is equally known for its potential for violent rainstorms and raging spring runoff. Two of the most significant floods of the 20th Century occurred in Colorado; the Arkansas and South Platte Rivers in June of 1965 and the Big Thompson Flood of 1976. The spring runoff of 2010 was an excellent reminder that even after a winter of below average precipitation, unusual weather patterns can generate significant flooding. For over 30 years SGM has been providing floodplain management services to the west slope of Colorado. In addition to serving as floodplain manager for a number of west slope communities, SGM has provided floodplain modeling and delineations for numerous development projects.
- River/Floodplain modeling
- Floodplain delineations
- Floodplain permits
- River hydraulics/scour analysis
- Flood Insurance Study Colorado River and Main Elk Creek for the Town of Newcastle
SGM’s team of engineers has decades of experience providing engineering services for a wide range of hydrologic and hydraulic projects of all scales.
- Dam design and permitting
- Intake design
- River basin modeling
- Channel design and restoration
- Meridian Lake Park Dam
- Granby WTP (1-mgd) surface water intake structure on river bank with dam on Fraser River, 1994
- Silt WTP (2.5-mgd) off-channel diversion inlet with surface water intake structure, 2006
- New Castle WTP Intake Improvements
- Snowmass Employee Erosion Control Dam
Water Conservation and efficiency has become a significant “new source” of water for water providers throughout Colorado. Reducing water consumption can be an inexpensive and quick way to increase water available for future use. Loss through inefficient infrastructure can also be a significant factor in water supply availability. The Colorado Water Conservation Act of 2004 requires water providers with retail deliveries in excess of 2,000 acre feet to develop an approved Water Conservation Plan. SGM has experience in the design and implementation of State required Water Conservation Plans as well as the efficient design and management of water supply systems.
Consulting/Process Facilitation/Conflict Resolution
Water has always been a contentious issue in Colorado, and that is even truer today. Today’s water supply world involves more than just water rights and engineering. Water quality, environmental impacts, conservation, growing populations and a more concerned set of stakeholders make any water project a complicated community process. SGM, working through the concept of Total Water Management (TWM) has helped our clients through the maze of water policy and planning processes, helping make sure that projects become a win-win situation for all parties concerned.
Education / Public Involvement
Public education, outreach and involvement is a critical part of any water project. From NEPA processes to rational for rate increases and facilities expansion or improvement, public involvement has become a routine aspect. SGM helps its clients through this process by organizing materials, meetings, educational forums, media relations and other means of making sure that the public, the water service customer has the information they need to help with informed decisions and support.
Policy Support and Advocacy
Often there are issues regarding water quality, regulations and laws that can have serious impacts on water providers and their customers. SGM personnel have experience in talking with regulatory agencies as well as testifying before regulatory commissions and legislators about pending actions. We work with our clients to organize material and make the case for them where needed.
Grant Writing and Administration
Grant money is a common source of funding for water projects. State and Federal funding is often available. SGM has experience in writing, winning and subsequently administering grants successfully. This helps make future granting easier and more likely to succeed as well.
Total Water Management (TWM)
The AWWA defines TWM as “the exercise of stewardship of water resources for the greatest good of society and the environment”.
Water is a finite and shrinking resource in western Colorado and dealing with it has become far more complicated than it used to be. There is a lot more than engineering, supply, operations and infrastructure involved. The challenges we face in the water industry require us to take a total system and watershed view approach. SGM has experience helping our clients weave through the TWM process, working with other water stakeholders in a leadership capacity and solution oriented actions that work to the benefit of all.
Wells often are essential to water supply planning and development. Wells may be needed in areas not serviced by a municipal supply or are a component to municipalities experiencing increasing demands. SGM provides assistance to private and public sectors from planning and development of wells. SGM also performs water supply adequacy analyses to determine the long-term yield of an aquifer to meet the regulations for County or City submittals. Tasks include:
- Water resource evaluations
- Well permitting with the Office of the State Engineer
- Well design
- Drilling coordination with licensed drillers
- On-site assistance during drilling, pumping and recovery test coordination
- Analyses with licensed pump installers
- Supply versus demand analyses
- Water quality evaluations
Clean Water Act Compliance and Implementation
SGM is very experienced with Clean Water Act projects, including Section 106 projects (water pollution control programs) and Section 319(b) projects (non-point source management programs). SGM develops surface water and groundwater quality monitoring programs, non-point source pollution assessments and management plans, and Quality Assurance Project Plans.
Wetland Delineation and Section 404 Permitting
Wetlands are protected under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulatory program is required in order to discharge dredged or fill material into any Waters of the U.S., including wetlands. Development projects that effect wetlands typically require a wetland delineation, Section 404 permit, and a wetland mitigation plan. SGM’s staff is experienced in wetland regulations per the Army Corp standards and can provide assistance in the Section 404 permitting process, including the Interim Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual. SGM also is experienced in developing wetland mitigation and monitoring plans approved by the USACE. Many counties and cities require setbacks from wetlands or have expanded on the Army Corps wetland definition. SGM stays current with existing County and City wetland regulations.
SGM’s environmental scientists and biologists specialize in wetland studies, threatened and endangered species studies, and NEPA compliance (including biological and environmental assessments). SGM is experienced in conducting avian surveys, vegetation surveys, soil and irrigation studies as well as fish and macroinvertebrate studies. Additional specialties include:
- Construction observation
- Revegetation and monitoring plans
- Wetland mitigation planning
- Reclamation vegetation monitoring
- Habitat mitigation planning
- Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments
- Water measurements, including stream gauging, flume installations, and stream gauge calibration
- Irrigation studies, including irrigated wetlands
- Geothermal water
Geologic Hazards Analyses
Geologic land-use reports are commonly required in geologically sensitive areas in the southwest. Many counties require that geologic hazards be adequately mapped and mitigated for prior to final development design. SGM reviews existing geologic information of the project area prior to a site visit to assess geologic conditions. SGM identifies geologic hazards and develops mitigation measures to the subject property based on available information and the field investigation. The Colorado Geologic Survey provides an agency review of the geologic hazards analyses prepared by SGM.
Aquatic Biology and Bioassessments
Biological information is being used increasingly in water quality permitting and management decisions. This is because aquatic organisms make excellent indicators of the health of a stream. SGM staff has solid experience and capabilities with completion of bioassessments, habitat evaluations, and other work related to aquatic biology. The findings from this work can assist with discharge permitting, stream classification hearings use attainability studies and related matters. Our services include testimony at state water quality hearings and negotiations with regulators.
Stream and Lake Enhancements
Lakes naturally age and can become filled with weeds and algae. Streams can be affected by sediment and water diversions causing low flows. These situations can often be remedied to return the lake to its original condition, or improve a stream for fishing. SGM provides services for lake restoration and stream improvements. We believe in a comprehensive approach to lake restoration that addresses the underlying causes, and not just the symptoms. Services for lake restoration and studies include preparation of lake management plans, lake enhancement programs, and lake dredging. Services for stream improvements include preparation of habitat improvement plans for fishing and stream enhancement.
A representative sample of our clients with whom we have provided a myriad of water resource services, follows:
- Mid Valley Metropolitan District
- Roaring Fork Water and Sanitation District
- MTW Ranch
- Sunlight Ski Resort
- Town of Mountain Village
- City of Durango
- Skyland Metropolitan District
- Town of Rangely
- Town of Buena Vista
- Mesa County
- Town of Snowmass Village
- Snowmass Water and Sanitation District
Meet the Water Resources Team
For more information about our Water Resources services, please contact Warren Swanson by email or phone at 970.945.1004.
- American Water Works Association (AWWA)
- Chlorine Institute (CI) Trade association of entities that are involved or interested in the safe production, distribution and use of chlorine, sodium and potassium hydroxides, and sodium hypochlorite, and the distribution and use of hydrogen chloride.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
- General Permit for the Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activity Information
- CDPHE’s Water Quality Permitting
- Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR)
- Colorado Streamflow Data
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Colorado Water Conservation Board
- US Army Corps of Engineers
- EPA’s Ground/Drinking Water Regulations and Guidelines
- EPA’s National Menu of Best Management Practices for Stormwater Phase II
- EPA’s Stage 2 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule
- International Stormwater BMP Database This database provides access to BMP performance data in a standardized format for roughly 200 BMP studies conducted over the past fifteen years.
- National Environmental Services Center (NESC) Provides technical assistance and information about drinking water, wastewater, environmental training, and solid waste management to communities serving fewer than 10,000 individuals.
- National Small Flows Clearinghouse
- Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA)
- Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, Inc. (WWEMA)