DENVER (CBS4) – The High Line Canal was originally built to move irrigation water across the region. Now that purpose has dried up, so the canal is being repurposed for a new type of water management.

(credit CBS)

“Today users see a very dry canal,” said Harriet Crittenden LaMair, Executive Director of the High Line Canal Conservancy.

Denver Water has not been sending water down the canal for several years, mostly because it’s a very inefficient way to move water. Sixty to 80% of the water leaks out or evaporates. Now the High Line Canal Conservancy is enacting a plan that would use 64 miles of the 71 mile canal to collect and filter storm water.

“Storm water in the region is coming faster and in bunches, so having more ways to manage that storm water and to have it flow through when it comes is a very smart way to manager water,” Crittenden LaMair explained.

(credit CBS)

Crews are building berms along the canal which will slow the water so that it can filter before it enters existing streams and creeks. Rocky channels and new curb cuts help direct rain fall runoff into the canal.

“The study shows that if we direct the storm water into the High Line Canal some 100 more days of the year the canal will be wet, which is amazing,” Crittenden LaMair told CBS4.

(credit High Line Canal Conservancy)

The storm water will also benefit the tree canopy along the canal, which right now is not getting watered the way it used to.

“Really, it’s a part of climate resiliency, and social justice issues, and environmental justice issues. When we look at the areas that are the driest along the canal, they are in the northern communities where there has been a lack of historic investment in the canal,” Crittenden LaMair said.

This project will be a $14 million over the next five to 10 years.

From Aug. 1 through Oct. 10, the Conservancy is hosting Walk for the Canal, to raise money for these projects and regular maintenance of the greenway. The challenge is to set a distance based goal. Collect donations, win prizes, and get moving outdoors.

“All the funds raised will come to the Conservancy and be shared with local governments, as well as, to support our community stewardship programs such as trash cleanups, tree plantings, week removals and more,” LaMair said.

To sign up to Walk for the Canal go to highlinecanal.org/walk.

Libby Smith