Peabody confirms plans for Trout Creek Reservoir to meet coal mining needs
October 16, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A spokesman for Peabody Energy told the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the proposed Trout Creek Reservoir is estimated to cost $16 million and, in addition to providing water for Peabody's future coal mining operations here, will generate a modest amount of hydroelectric power.
"Our location of this planned reservoir gives us a long-term water supply in the geographical location we need to serve our operations," Peabody Director of Real Estate Development Brian J. Yansen said. "We're trying to be as creative as we can with water and use it for maximum long-term benefit. This would supply water for (the new Twentymile Sage Creek Mine) as well as future mining to the west."
The reservoir would be built about 15 miles southwest of Steamboat Springs near the confluence of Trout and Middle creeks, which are tributaries of the Yampa River.
Peabody has no plans to lease water from Trout Creek to third parties, Yansen said.
However, the reservoir could be used for boating and fishing by the residents of a possible new rural subdivision around the shore of the 400-acre lake as well as Peabody's existing Vista Ridge subdivision. It's not known whether there would be any public access, Yansen said.
In addition to water storage, Yansen said a micro-hydropower plant at the new dam is projected to generate enough electricity to meet the annual needs of about 125 homes.
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"It's unique for Peabody to be doing this, but we thought it supported" Colorado's Renewable Energy Initiative, he said.
Ultimately, Routt County government would have much to say about several aspects of the project, including any realignment of nearby roads. However, because of Peabody's plans for hydropower, the initial planning and approval process would be driven by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And the federal approval process could last several years.
Peabody will host two public meetings about plans for the reservoir Oct. 24 and 25 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
At a glance
• Storage water rights date to 1977 and originally were filed by Energy Fuels.
• Filling the dam will not require the acquisition of additional water rights.
• The original storage right of 30,000 acre-feet was reduced by the water court to 15,000 acre-feet, with a right to refill continuously up to an additional 15,000 acre-feet when water is available in priority.
• The hydropower plant would involve a single 125-kilowatt turbine housed in a building about the size of a two-car garage.
• The earthen dam would be about 78 feet tall.
• The reservoir would be about one-third the size of Stagecoach Reservoir.
• Environmental Site Review is at 11 a.m. Oct. 24. Participants should meet at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave. All participants are responsible for their own transportation. Anyone with questions about the site visit should contact Dave Merritt, of URS Corp., at 970-384-4738 on or before Friday.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com