Keystone, Summit County strike deal with Denver Water to safeguard resort snowmaking | VailDaily.com

Keystone, Summit County strike deal with Denver Water to safeguard resort snowmaking

Julie Sutor
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Snow will blow as scheduled this season at Keystone Resort, thanks to a deal among the ski area, Summit County government and Denver Water.

The resort relies on water from the Roberts Tunnel, owned by Denver Water, to blanket its slopes in white every year through early-season snowmaking. Keystone is allowed to pump as much as 1,500 acre feet from the tunnel between Sept. 1 and March 31 each winter.

Denver Water needs to make repairs on the Roberts Tunnel, which draws about 54,000 acre feet per year from Dillon Reservoir to supply municipal water to the Denver Metro Area. The tunnel is 50 years old and requires valve replacements at its east end – a project that must be performed while the tunnel is drained, thus rendering water unavailable for Keystone during construction. The repairs were originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and last throughout the winter until April 4, 2011.

“That would impact an entire season of Keystone’s snowmaking, which is essential to guarantee good snow by the holidays,” Summit County manager Gary Martinez said.

That scenario would be worrisome to Summit County government, which receives sales tax revenues from Keystone and the many businesses in and around its base areas.

So Keystone and Summit County have negotiated a deal through which the resort will pay Denver Water $120,000 to postpone work on the Roberts Tunnel until Dec. 16. The delay will allow Keystone to draw water through Dec. 15.

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Denver Water is still planning to finish construction by April 4, 2011, in time to capture spring runoff and fill reservoirs with water for summer use. The Keystone funds will cover the added costs of completing the project on a tighter timeline.

In the event that construction isn’t done by the April deadline, and Denver Water loses the opportunity to store spring runoff, both Summit County and Keystone will make up for the deficits with water from Clinton Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir for up to three years.

“This is an example of the county putting our water portfolio to good use. It would be really tough for our revenue budget to have Keystone fall flat because of an inability to make snow,” Martinez said.

In a separate agreement, Breckenridge Ski Resort will lease water from Summit County for snowmaking for three years. Summit County will use funds from the lease agreement to purchase water rights in Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just north of Kremmling.

SDN reporter Julie Sutor can

be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

jsutor@summitdaily.com.