DENVER (CBS4)– It’s one of Denver’s most vital natural resources: Dillon Reservoir is the largest source of water that’s eventually pumped into the metro area. And it turns 50 this year.

Although many take the water that’s stored in the reservoir for granted, it was a tough sell to get people in Summit County to lose land and water to Denver.

The original idea for a reservoir started more than 100 years ago. Although it took quite a bit of planning and implementation, Denver Water is planning a pretty big birthday party this weekend.

The Town of Dillon was purchased, relocated and flooded to make the reservoir.

“Yes it’s a valley and you can see that in the pictures we have and so it was a natural valley which lent itself to make a dam,” said Summit Historical Society Archivist Donna Speer.

Denver Water started buying land in the area along two rivers and a creek during the Great Depression. Decades later and much to their dismay, residents were told by the Denver Water Board they had until April 1, 1961 to move.

“This is a picture of old Dillon and as you can see it is in a valley and you see this mountain with the scar, you see the same t hing here when it’s filled,” said Speer.

The dam was completed and water began filling the area 50 years ago this week.

“Dillon is Denver Water’s biggest reservoir. We wanted to celebrate with the community here because they are home to our biggest reservoir,” said Denver Water spokeswoman Stacy Chesney.

With a storage capacity of 85 billion gallons it has remained a vital resource for Denver Water. This weekend they’re throwing a free community-wide party.

“We wanted to be good neighbors to the community here and wanted to say ‘thank you’ for helping us have this great reservoir that supplies water to Denver,” said Chesney.

The party is just in time to celebrate a lake that just a few months ago experienced one of its lowest levels in its 50 year history.

“We were really fortunate. Heading into the spring we were facing the two worst consecutive years in Denver Water’s history,” said Chesney.

The reservoir is 95 percent full as September begins.

The party is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dillon Marina. Everyone is invited.


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