Water, Sewer and Other Services in the Rural Areas

Water

Douglas County Government does not provide water service to residents.  There are several different water providers that serve the water needs of the County’s population.  If your property does not have access to a supply of treated domestic water,  as is the case in most of the rural areas of the County, it is your responsibility to locate an alternative supply.  In most cases, this will likely be an individual domestic well.  To apply for and acquire a well permit, the Colorado Division of Water Resources, also known as the States Engineer’s Office, must be contacted.

When considering the purchase of a property, it is important to verify that sufficient water rights exist for a particular property and that those rights are being conveyed at the time of sale.  In certain instances, the water rights for one or more of the aquifer layers have been severed from the land or retained by another owner.  You will want to check on this very critical item before you finalize any purchase of property.  If a well permit has been issued for the property, you should verify the limits of water use set forth in the permit.  A typical exempt well on a 35 acre parcel allows for household uses, animal watering, and 1 acre of irrigation.  Other permits, depending on the size and location of the property, may be restricted to household water use only.  This type of permit does not allow water to be used for any outside uses such as landscaping or animal needs.

Most rural properties within the County rely exclusively on non-renewable groundwater sources for their wells.  Properties closer to the Pike National Forest are at the edge of the Denver Basin aquifer and can experience decreased well capacity and water pressure over time.  Water solutions can be costly if a well fails (e.g., cisterns, well re-drilling).

Groundwater supplies are finite, and their depletion affects property owners throughout the County.  Water conservation practices are critical for ensuring that water supplies will be available for future generations.  Landscape irrigation is typically the largest component of residential water use, and owners are wise to appropriately restrict the amount and type of ornamental plants and turf grass on their property. Water for produce gardens and animal uses should also be considered when assessing your overall water demands.

Electricity and maintenance costs required to operate a groundwater well can be significant and should be factored into your budget.  Improper maintenance can greatly reduce the life of your well components.  A limited number of rural properties are served by a community well system or are part of an established water district.  It is important to understand the rate structures of such districts, along with any conservation requirements they may have.

Domestic Wells and Rural Water

For answers to common questions regarding domestic wells and water supply, visit Domestic Well & Rural Water

For all other questions related to the permitting process through the Colorado Division of Water Resources

The Douglas County Rural Water Authority is a group formed to represent the unique needs of rural water users.  The Authority’s web site contains well and water information, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Sewer

At lower densities, sewer service is generally provided by individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS), or septic systems. A septic use permit is required for the construction of any new septic system or whenever a property with an existing septic system is sold.  Tri-County Health Department issues such permits, not Douglas County government.  The type of soil, depth to ground water or bedrock, slope, etc. will be very important in determining the cost and function of a system.  Leach field areas must be protected from vehicles and horses or other types of livestock to avoid costly repairs to the system.  Regular pumping is also required to protect the longevity of the septic system.

For more information regarding septic systems and the permitting system, please visit the Tri-County Health Department.

Electricity, Gas, and Alternative Power

Within Douglas County there are three energy providers: Xcel Energy, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), and Mountain View Electric Association.  The majority of the rural areas within Douglas County are served by IREA.   It may be expensive to extend lines in order to accommodate land and homeowners in remote areas of the County. It may also be necessary to cross property owned by others in order to extend electric services.  You should identify the service provider and research these issues prior to building.  Natural gas may also be unavailable through a utility provider, making it necessary to contract with a propane delivery service to meet these energy needs.

Solar panels are allowed in the County through the building permit process and can be roof or ground-mounted.  Ground-mounted solar facilities are required to be placed outside the building setbacks set forth in the County’sZoning Resolution.  Residential-scale wind energy conversions systems are just now being developed within the industry and, at present, are subject to a more extensive land use review process with the County.  The specific characteristics of a property will determine if wind energy systems are feasible.

Postal and Parcel Delivery

Mail, newspaper, standard parcel and overnight package delivery can be more difficult in some rural areas in Douglas County.  Prospective and current rural homeowners need to confirm with the service providers as to their status.

An issue that can be confusing for new residents is the fact that your mailing address may not reflect the jurisdiction in which you live, but from where you receive mail service (based on your postal zip code).  While living in unincorporated Douglas County, your address may indicate Castle Rock, Parker, Larkspur, Sedalia, Franktown, Littleton, or another jurisdiction.  It is important to keep in mind that you do not generally receive services from these jurisdictions.  For building permits and other governmental services, you should contact Douglas County government. 

Communications

Rural residents may run into several difficulties with telephone and internet use.  Internet providers are not available in many parts of rural Douglas County and cellular and internet service is limited, especially in areas in or near the National Forest.