The County has 22 dams that were built in the 1960s. Since their construction, significant watershed management criteria evolution has occurred which has moved water quality and discharge management strategy towards networks of small structures like ponds.
The contemporary watershed management strategy provides a higher level and quality of service, at a lower cost than the dams. The dams are also well past their design life, which in some cases pose limited risks, and require a lot of funding to operate and maintain. Since the current watershed criteria implements a management solution entirely redundant to the role the dams were intended to perform, a phased transition to contemporary watershed management will occur.
Engineering analysis is performed at every dam to ensure no hazard is created through conversion with FEMA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Colorado State Dam Safety offices. The dam design transition is based on the conversion or reclassification of the jurisdictional structure to one that is not beholden to the dam safety criteria and thus alleviates the financial and design risks associated with jurisdictional dams.
Engineering staff is coordinating the conversion process with the Douglas County Conservation District, property owners who have structures on their property, and the NRCS in keeping with the spirit of the founding intents while also respecting the original and native watershed flows to support natural cyclic riparian and riverine systems.