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Dear Editor:

There may be puzzle piece for helping solve Pagosa Springs’ water difficulties: Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR). In CEU classes in Denver last week, we had an engineer explain the success, possibilities and the mega costs savings of this established technology.

First: An underground basin is identified that will hold thousands to millions of gallons water, and a combination well is drilled into the formation. There is special in-the-well valving that allows water to be introduced to the basin during high water times of the year, and then the ‘captured’ water is pumped from the same well from the basin later on in the year when needed. Simple. The advantages are numerous:

Instead of pumping water to lakes and ponds where there is approximately 30 percent loss of water due to evaporation, the water is stored underground with no evaporation or loss.

Water is treated as the water goes into the ground water basin and doesn’t have the cost and problems of treating raw lake water.

No expensive or unsightly large storage tanks are needed to first purchase them and then to maintain them.

I believe that there are numerous underground storage basins that could be used for this purpose. However, if a site location that would support ASR would be too far away and too expensive due to the distance, a second incredible solution is available.

Second: Create a basin in alluvial deposits. The engineer told us about a machine that can cut a trench down to 100 feet deep. While the trench is being cut it also pumps in concrete into the trench from the bottom up that creates an impermeable wall that will create a basin whatever size needed.

This is established technology with at least a 20-year track record that is currently being used in various subdivisions in Colorado. The silver thread of water that we are blessed with that is flowing down from the mountains needs to be harvested with as much care as possible.

Joel Hellwege

This story was posted on January 24, 2013.