COLORADO SPRINGS WATER WORKS.
HOW water is supplied to Colorado Springs is worth reading about. Pike’s peak, Col., is a colossal mass of red granite 14,147 feet above sea level and about 9,000 feet above the prairie. From its base at Manitou, to the city of Colorado Springs is about six miles; from Manitou to the top of the peak of the cog railroad, nine miles. The summit of the mountain is cleft by punchbowl excavations made by glaciers, from which,near the summit, long and narrow valleys radiate downwards to the base. Starting from a large amphitheatre about 1,000 feet below the summit on the southwest side of the first of a series of steep steps from 500 to 1,000 feetdeep is a plunge from this overasteep precipice of granite, 500 feet, high, into a ravine following the course of Beaver creek. At its head is the highest reservoir of the Colorado Springs water works, at present used. The hills or ridges on either side of this ravine are covered with enormous boulders left by the glacier. Other ravines come in, tributary to this, such as those of Boehmer and Sackctt creeks, each with its local lake or natural reservoir near the head of its ravine. Following the valley of Beaver, it comes to an end in a cul de sat; under Bald mountain, where the “Seven Cakes” occupy basins among the moraines left by the glacier. From this point there is no open outlet to drain the lakes Into Lake Moraine -which would require a 2,t)00 foot tunnel through Mount Baldy; but a short distance up Beaver creek is a comparatively low pass, 100 feet above the valley of Beaver, called the Seven Lakes divide. From this another great step descends 1,000 feet into the deep, wide ravine occupied by Lake Moraine, which covers about twenty acres, formed at the east end of the outlet of the ravine by a circular moraine left by the glacier. Lake Moraine and an enlargement form the second ami main reservoir. From the ravine below the lake the stream rushes down Ruxton canyon to Manitou, where It joins Fountain creek and tlows into the Arkansas river. Bear and Cheyenne and other creeks likewise contribute their waters to the Pike’s peak supply for Colorado priugs by means of the Seven Lakes. Reservoir No. 2, wbose sides planed down as by a giant plane, show where the glacier slid down from the amphitheatre above, [over the steep cliff on to its bottom. In this amphitheatre, in which will be stored some 536,000,000 gallons of water, to be conveyed therefrom to Colorado Springs, by a tunnel 5,000 feet long down into reservoir No. 2; by a flume five miles long by a roundabout course among the hills and cliffs; or (the cheapest and most novel way) by piping the water from the end of the timberline flume already constructed to reservoir No. 2, the force to be derived from a Pelton impact wheel, which will generate electric power to be transmitted by wire back to the big amphitheatre reservoir, or reservoir No. 8, and pump into the timberline flume, at the rate of 5,000,000 gallons a day. Much of the existing water supply comes through thistimberline flume, which is built just above timberline on the east fork of West Beaver, one mile west of the summit of the peak, 11,900 feet above sea level. It is 4,000 feet long, and traverses the lowest pass bet ween Beaver and Middle Beaver, whence it flows down the natural channel of the latter stream over the precipice to No. 2 reservoir, below which it continues in that channel for one and a half miles, and is thence diverted through the McShane ditch and the Beaver creek pipe acioss the Seven Lakes divide, falling over a cliff 800 feet high into the Lake Moraine reservoir, down Ruxton canyon to Manitou reservoir, and again by pipe to the reservoir on the mesa, a few miles west of Colorado Springs; thence by pipe, with a fall of 200 feet, to the hydrants of Colorado Springs. As there is a total fall of 5,874 feet from the highest reservoir to the plains, no continuous pipe, built at reasonable cost, could stand the pressure; lienee the necessary and natural interruptions and breaks by intermediate reservoirs, falls, cascades, and open ditches.
After Colorado Springs had passed through the well supply stage,a gravity system was constructed from Ruxton creek above Manitou through six miles of 8-inch pipe to a reservoir on a mesa near the town, whence it was distributed through the mains. In 1889 a 16-inch pipe was added from Ruxton creek and the Bear creek waters were drawn into the system, a ditch, (now a pipe line being constructed to take in the waters of Cheyenne creek. Owing to litigation over water rights, the town looked elsewhere. Congress in 1889 granted Colorado Springs a tract of 700 acres, including the site of Lake Moraine, for reservoir purposes, with its basin of 90 acres, a natural dam with only a narrow and easily-repaired breach in it,and with two powerfui springs in the bottom of the smaller, or original Lake Moraine and the immense adjacent basin capable of being filled by building a small dam. This dam was built, 385 feet long, 250 feet wide at bottom, and 20 feet at top, with granite facing 3 feet deep on the water face, and 2 feetdeep on the outer, and having a slope of 3 to 1 on the inside, and 2 to 1 on the outside. The dam is earthen, clay and gravel faced with stone. The side facing the water has a step or “berme” to accomodate the granite riprapping. As the filling in progressed, twoimpervious strips of puddling of clay were built up, each 15 feet wide, and extending 14 feet below the bottom of the dam, which itself rests on a bed of clay and was pierced to a depth of 35 feet without finding bottom. The reservoir, when filled, will extend hack nearly a mile, and will rise to within 7 feet of the top of the dam, overflowing through the natural spillway, which allows the superfluous water to flow off 600 feet to one side, instead of overflowing the dam itself. The waste pipe is 2,010 feet long, placed in the natural earth and buried in a bed of concrete and hydraulic masonry. At the triangle in the pipe is the valve for turning on and off the water.
A ditch was formed to carry off the Beaver creek, which is 100 feet below the Seven Lakes divide at the head of the basin of Lake Moraine, 11,070 feet above sea level. A pipe brings the water through this ditch from the side of Pike’s peak. The flow is large, clear, and constant, as is that of the tributary streams of Boehmer and Sackett creeks. The mouth of the pipe being several feet below the surface, there can be no freezing up. It carries 5,000.000 gallons daily; the head of the system of the Beaver creek is at an altitude of 11,000 feet.
Colorado Springs has thus a supply of 12,000,000 gallons daily of ice cold mountain water, to supply an average daily consumption of 3,000,000 gallons. The region about the peak is secure from pollution by the “timberline reservation act;” but this did not extend to Ruxton creek,so a 16-inch pipe was laid to carry the water from a point one mile below Lake Moraine. The town storage system holds 604,000,000 gallons of drinking water and 5,000,000 of irrigation, to which Lake Moraine contributes 492.000,000 gallons of drinking water, which can never become warm or stagnant. The capacity of the two reservoirs on the mesa is 1.000,000 and 15,000,000 gallons respectively; but the principal irrigation reservoir is Prospect lake, in a natural hollow, east of the town, with a capacity of 374,000,000 gallons. There are several other auxiliary systems, not connected with those of Pike’s peak. The total amount hitheito expended on the Colorado Springs water supply is $525,000. There are vast possibilities of increasing this supply from the isolated bodies of water in the different crater-like pits, which, under the skilful engineering of Mr. H. I. Reid (to whom the planning and engineering of the whole water system is due) could be brought into the common system; especially so with the waters of the Seven Lakes and those of the great amphitheatre west of the peak, which could be brought in by means of tunnels.
The above account of this typical mountain lake system is condensed from a very interesting paper on the subject, which, with the cuts, appeared in the current number of the “Engineering Magazine,”of New York.