When Gov. Jared Polis recently unveiled a new state logo, he noted that the rich blue base of the design represented water, "which is absolutely critical to our state."
Bob Lembke, president of the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, agrees. On the 70 Ranch in Weld County, Lembke has constructed one of the state’s largest synthetically lined, raw water reservoirs.
The grand opening for the 70 Ranch Reservoir, located near the South Platte River and Kersey, is now scheduled for May 15. The event was pushed back a week because of weather.
“We don’t have a water shortage problem in Colorado,” Lembke is fond of saying. “There is plenty of water in Colorado. We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”
More than 3 million cubic yards of dirt were removed during the three-year construction process. The lined reservoir will hold somewhere around 5,500 acre feet of water.
Drew Damiano, vice president of operations for the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, or WAWDA, is the project manager for the reservoir.
“This is a big deal,” he said. “The reservoir is a critically important component of our system. It will allow us to utilize our decreed water rights to the fullest extent for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes."
Lembke purchased the 70 Ranch in 2003. Some historians say got its name because it was 70 miles from Denver, Cheyenne and Sterling, the three primary cattle shipping hubs in northern Colorado during the 19th century. Others note that settlers who grazed cattle on the land in 1870 branded them with the number “70.” A portion of James Michener's novel "Centennial" was filmed on location at the ranch.
Today the 70 Ranch is actively involved in the Kersey community. Ranch operators manage farming, grazing and activities of the oil and gas operators across its more than 14,000 acres. A few years ago, Lembke donated a 165-acre parcel of land to the Platte River Water Development Authority where Colorado State University helps conduct experiments on subsurface irrigation to help farmers and municipalities conserve water and withstand droughts.
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