This is big...really really big! I had the priviledge of getting a private tour of the Parker Reuter Hess Reservoir on September 25th 2011 by 2 construction supervisors and none other than the father of the whole project- Frank Yeager (the dam is named after him now.) I doubt I'll ever be able to do that again at any time anywhere. They will just finish up the construction phase in a month or two after 4 years of construction, so all we can do is watch the FILLING phase from afar now!
I got to walk along the top of the concrete super-structure to the tip of it, which was way cool!! Its 185 feet looking straight down...man that water is going to be DEEP! I was here last year in August 2010, when they had the Open House and we got to drive on the dam, then through the bottom of the reservoir. Now that road is under water as you can see in the picture! Its basically doubled in size in a years time. And as you can see its got a LONG LONG way to go. So long that is mindboggling actually. It will take years to fill this up. They are pumping the water from a small building off Stroh Road by Cherry Creek, and there is a 'movable dam' that has baffles in it that can rise and fall according to how much they want to pump out of it. However, even in the wettest years, this won't come close to being enough water to fill it by itself. Ever been to Cherry Creek? Its not exactly a huge creek. Most of the water will have to be pumped from other sources around Colorado, and that is going to be expensive. So sit tight everyone hope you all have a lot of patience and pass those bond issues for the pipelines!
Never-the-less, this is an incredible amenity for Parker CO and all of Douglas County. The size is staggering. It will be 50% larger than Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was planned as a 16,000 acre feet storage facility, and it grew into a 72,000 acre foot facility. The water depth at the dam is going to be 185 feet when full to capacity, which is projected to only happen 2 times in the next 50 years, but MAN that is really deep.
There are plans for a regional park, disc golf, dog park, habitat preserve, nature center, swim beach, boat laundh (non-motorized only...it's a water supply right?) fishing, and many trails. The habitat preserve area shows pedestrian/hiking, biking, equestrian use, and overlooks. These are all great plans, but here is what else I know. Guess how much money is allocated to these features? ZERO. None of these things are going to happen anytime soon.
The Parker Water and Sanitation District is a WATER COMPANY, not a RECREATION entity, so they have nothing to do with any of these plans for one thing. All they have been focusing on is the dam construction. There are no roads being built to have access to the reservoir, no boat ramps being built, no beaches, trails or anything. You will see it from the new Hess Road that will skirt it on the North side and connect to Castle Pines Parkway, but you won't be able to get close to it. I bet we are looking at waiting for years with the economy we have right now, and the funds will have to be raised by Douglas County or The State of Colorado with lottery funds. So anyone that is anxiously waiting for the reservoir to open because they feel like they are 'entitled' to its use right away are going to be highly disappointed! Its sole purpose is for water storage. Recreation is not even on the radar with no funds.
What IS COOL is that the animals have discovered it, and are making daily treks to it. So the elk, deer, foxes, coyotes birds etc. will all have it on their radar, and that will change how they roam around the area guaranteed.
Will it help Parker CO home values? I seriously doubt it. What it WILL do is maintain them though, because it will help protect our future water supplies. And it will certainly put Parker CO on the map, and eventually be a regional draw (once its filled.)