Mission of the Water and Sewer Association
One of the most common questions new Crystal Lakes Property Owners ask is “Why do we have two Associations”? It boils down to our primary mission: to keep us legal with Colorado’s water law and health policies. When approving this development back in the 1970s, the State of Colorado required this Association be created separate from the Road and Recreation Association, to ensure this mission could be met without compromise. The Water and Sewer Association is not a typical homeowner’s association, operating more like a utility or special water district by:
- Providing a clean public water supply to members including free water fill for recreational vehicles and small water containers, water for community showers, and water to Wapiti Center and Basecamp,
- Operating water and sewer systems serving portions of Crystal Lakes,
- Providing water for fire protection, including a 2000-gallon tanker available to the fire department at no charge,
- Offering water and wastewater hauling services to its members at competitive rates, and
- Enabling property owners to obtain well permits by administering a Well Augmentation Plan for Crystal Lakes and operating and maintaining Panhandle and Lower Lone Pine reservoirs, dams and outlet works.
The Water Augmentation Plan
A primary responsibility of the Crystal Lakes Water and Sewer Association is to keep our community in compliance with our water decrees, maintaining our ability to meet a river call and provide replacement water supply to downstream water users in times of drought. If we are found out of compliance by the State, all property owners would be required to cease and desist pumping their wells.
Creation and Governance
The Crystal Lakes Water and Sewer Association was created in 1974 by a Larimer County Master Declaration (Amended in 1975, click to access document). The declaration provides for enforcement of the Colorado District Water Court Decree allowing property owners in Crystal to have domestic water wells, for household use only, no irrigation. The source of water for our wells is an alluvial aquifer connected hydrologically to the Lone Pine Basin and the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River. By Colorado State Water Law, new development may not take water from an alluvial water without providing a plan for “replacement” of that water for senior water users downstream. An Augmentation Plan Decree, set forth in Case W-7631-74 and later consolidated in Case W-8540-77 (click to access document) of Water Division 1, defines that replacement plan for Crystal Lakes:
- In times of drought when downstream senior water users are short of supply, they may “place a call” on the river that would affect Crystal Lakes.
- In the event of that “River Call,” Crystal Lakes would release water from either or both of its reservoirs (Lower Lone Pine and Panhandle) to help satisfy the shortage (other junior users on the river would be “called out” similarly).
Water Decree Compliance
To be in compliance with our Decree we must be able to respond to a call at any time by:
- Keeping our reservoirs and waterways in good condition and able to store and release as needed,
- Monitoring and documenting flows into and out of the reservoirs,
- Tracking use of water and the water rights legally stored in the reservoirs,
- Regularly inspecting the dams and shorelines, and
- Conducting periodic Reserve Studies and keeping funds in reserve to be able to make repairs when necessary.
These efforts take not only manual labor, but highly specialized knowledge, generally supplied by our engineering and legal consultants. The association recently received a Section 404 Permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to increase the storage capacity of Lower Line Pine Lake from 10.5 acre feet to 100.5 acre feet, which increased the lake’s surface area from approximately 2 acres to 6.5 acres. The additional storage brings us into full compliance with our Well Augmentation Plan which requires sufficient storage be maintained to replace well pumping.
Bylaws and Policies
The Association’s Bylaws (click to access document) were last updated in 1997. Some key points from this document include:
- Any property owner within the boundary of Crystal Lakes subdivision is a voting Member of the Water and Sewer Association (one vote for each lot)
- A property owner membership meeting is held once a year, between April 1 and August 31st. All property owners are urged to attend.
- A special meeting may also be called by the Board President, the Board of Directors by a majority vote, or a petition signed by 30% of property holders.
- A quorum at any membership meeting is equal to the number of property owners in attendance.
- The Board of Directors is elected by the membership at the annual meeting. Board members hold 2-year terms, which are staggered.
- Association By-laws may be modified by 2/3 vote of membership in attendance at an annual or special meeting.
Water and Sewer Association Timeline
October 3, 1975 – Formation of the Crystal Lakes Water and Sewer Association by Larimer County Master Declaration
October 6, 1976 – Approval of Water Court Decreed Plan for Augmentation put forth in Case Number W-7631-74 in Colorado Water Division 1
January 26, 1987 – Incorporated as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation, EIN 19871708703