A valve at the base of the Loveland Dam near Alpine was opened Monday, allowing billions of gallons of water to thunder down the valley toward Sweetwater Reservoir in Spring Valley.
“It’s a spectacle that is hard to forget,” said Hector Martinez, Chairman of the Sweetwater Authority “Very powerful! I almost feel the ground shaking when the water is being released."
The gushing valve is a sight to behold, and thanks to the massive transfer, South Bay water customers might be looking at their water bills with similar amazement.
"[Sweetwater Reservoirs] is about 25% full,” said Ron Mosher, the Authority’s Director of Engineering. “We need some water and, fortunately, we have water up in Loveland Reservoir, which is about 17 miles upstream.”
“If you look at it, it could handle more water,” Martinez added.
Mosher said the Loveland Reservoir collects rainwater and melting snow from the surrounding area. It’s free water. The Sweetwater Authority didn’t have to pay to import it from Northern California or the Colorado River. When the Authority needs water, it opens a valve at the bottom of Loveland Dam.
Mosher compared the process to a "very, very large fire hose.”
Once the water gets to Sweetwater Reservoir, the water authority can treat it and provide it to customers, Mosher said.
The entire process takes roughly three weeks. The Authority hasn't opened the dam since 2019.
Martinez said they’re moving enough water to last all of Sweetwater’s customers eight months.
“Saving approximately six-to-ten million dollars in water purchase costs,” he smiled. “That’s how we keep water rates low.”
Mosher added they can only do water transfers between reservoirs at certain times of the year because they have to take into account endangered species along the route and the weather.