ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Arapahoe County expects to experience massive growth, with projections suggesting the county's population could grow from its current total of 655,000 to 800,000 by 2030. Those who lead the county's public works division hope to plan ahead for the rapid development amid drought conditions.
This month, the county launched an 18-month study of its water resources, with the goal of ensuring demand for development doesn't overwhelm the county's water supply.
"Arapahoe County currently is the third largest county in Colorado and expected to grow exponentially in the future, so we need to plan for that," said Bryan Weimer, director of Arapahoe County Public Works and Development.
The study will identify above-ground and groundwater resources in the county's metropolitan and rural areas. Once the study is complete, future policies for the Arapahoe County Comprehensive Plan will be solidified.
"The study will help us identify what our codes need to look like to accommodate that growth into the future," said Weimer.
The county has already identified one policy it'd like to incorporate, according to Weimer.
"We're recommending a 300-year water supply — that any type of development that would come through has to show that they have water available to support 300 years worth of growth, or 300 years-worth of life of that development," he explained.
County planners are also going to hold public meetings and other engagement opportunities throughout the study process.
Clinton Porter, an Arapahoe County resident and realtor, has witnessed the county's rapid boom in recent years.
"There's good schools, it's safe, not a lot of crime or anything like that, close proximity to the airport — just 20 minutes north of us," Porter said. "It's just kind of a booming area."
"I think that as this area continues to grow, you're gonna watch it go on the other side of C-470 and kind of growth in that direction toward the airport," he added. "In the Copperleaf area, we've seen approvals happen for some paired homes. So we're watching a lot more families that are coming into our little area here."
The water study will cost the county $500,000 and is funded by a Colorado Water Conservation Board grant and money received through the American Rescue Plan.