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Photo of Turquoise Lake.

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Water Resources of the Upper Arkansas River Basin

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Homestake System

The Homestake Water Collection and Storage System was conceived by the City of Aurora in the late 1950's as a dependable source of raw water. It was constructed (1963-1967) and is jointly operated by the Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs which share equally in the costs and water yield.  The system consists of a series of collection and diversion structures in the headwaters of the Eagle River, the Homestake Reservoir, the Homestake Tunnel and the Otero Pump Station and Pipeline.  The Homestake Project also makes use of facilities constructed by the federal government as part of the Bureau of Reclamation's Frying Pan-Arkansas Project.  Like most Colorado water projects, the yield is very seasonal-- as 97 percent of the water arrives in the months of May through July. System storage is the key factor that makes these projects feasible.  The total system utilizes 72,882 acre-feet of storage space including 42,882 acre-feet  in Homestake Reservoir and 30,000 acre-feet  in Turquoise Reservoir. 

Homestake Reservoir

Photograph of Homestake DamThe Homestake Reservoir is a 45,000 acre-foot reservoir located southern Eagle County in the Colorado River basin. Aurorašs share of the usable capacity of Homestake Reservoir is 21,441 acre-feet.  The Homestake trans-mountain diversion system collects water from several tributaries of Homestake Creek and stores water in Homestake Reservoir for delivery through the 5.2 mile long Homestake Tunnel under the continental divide into Turquoise Reservoir.   Real-time Homestake Reservoir data is available from the Homestake Reservoir links.  Outflow on Homestake Creek is measured on the HOMEOUTCO gage. Flow through the Homestake Tunnel is available at HOMTUNCO.

Turquoise Reservoir

Turquise LakeTurquoise Lake was constructed as part of the Bureau of Reclamation's Frying Pan Arkansas Project.  Turquoise Lake is located 5 miles west of Leadville and has a capacity of 129,440 acre-feet. Homestake water is stored  in Turquoise Reservoir, in space contracted from the Bureau of Reclamation. Only water from the Homestake project may be stored in this space. Aurora's half of the average annual yield is 12,974 acre-feet. Of this total 2,500 acre-ft is owed to Pueblo Board of Water Works. Currently, a contract is in place by which Aurora purchases 5,000 acre-feet annually from Pueblo BOWW. The first 2,500 acre-feet is taken as a foregone delivery to Pueblo.

Additional water is available from the Busk-Ivanhoe System which diverts water in the upper reaches of Ivanhoe Creek, a tributary to the Fryingpan River west of the continental divide. It is shared equally by the City of Aurora and the Pueblo Board of Water Works. The Busk-Ivanhoe inflow is reported on the BUSTUNCO station.  Additional inflows from the Fry-Ark Charles Boustead Tunnel are reported at the BOUTUNCO station.  Outflow into Lake Fork Creek below the Sugar Loaf dam is reported at the LFCBSLCO gage.  Flows through the Mount Elbert Conduit are set by the Bureau of Reclamation and reported  at.....

Mount Elbert Conduit

The Mount Elbert Conduit delivers water from Turquoise lake to Twin Lakes Reservoir.  The conduit is 10.7 miles long, 90" in diameter and has a capacity of 370 cfs.  The flow through the Mt. Elbert Conduit is set by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Information regarding this flow is available at

Twin Lakes Reservoir

Twin LakesTwin Lakes Reservoir was also constructed as part of the Frying Pan-Arkansas Project by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Located 13 miles south of Leadville, Twin Lakes has a capacity of 141,000 acre-feet.  Aurora owns a 5% interest in the Twin Lakes System that diverts water from the Roaring Fork River to Twin Lakes. The Bureau of Reclamation operates Twin Lakes Reservoir. The Independence Pass Transmountain Diversion system is owned and operated by the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company.

Otero Pump Station and Pipeline

Otero Pump Stations and PipelineThe Otero Pump Station was built as part of the original Homestake Project and was completed in 1967.  It lifts water from the Arkansas River against 575 feet of vertical head to deliver it to the South Platte River Basin over Trout Creek Pass. The Pump Station has a capacity of 104 MGD or 161 cfs.  The Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs share equally in the costs and the water.   The X mile long pipeline is 66" in diameter. Aurora's water is delivered to the Homestake Channel which delivers the water to Spinney Mountain Reservoir in South Park for storage.  Colorado Springs' water is delivered via pipeline to Rampart Reservoir.

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