TELLER COUNTY – A popular source of spring water in Teller County, Colorado is scheduled to be capped this November. I’ve actually done this for 41 years,” said Bill Orbaugh who stopped at the spring to get water. Like Orbaugh, many others have gotten water here free and unrestricted for decades. The are not happy it is going away. “It actually kind of makes me sad,” said David Dorsey who drove from Denver to get water.
Some call it the Gillette Flats Spring, others know it simply as the spring along highway 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek. No one seems to have a definitive name. It is evidence of what lead to the decision to cut off the water. “We researched to try to find if there was a legal mechanism under which it existed,” said Colorado Division of Water Resources, Division Engineer, Bill Tyner, “After that research, discovered there wasn’t, didn’t find anyone who claimed ownership.
The investigation into water rights for the spring came about because of increasing notoriety from more people stopping at the well. Then the drought over the summer prompted others in the area to question the spring and all the people taking water for free. “The folks who got to use it for free got a bonus from it,” said Tyner. With no one registered for the water rights the decision is to cap the spring so the water goes back into the underground aquifer.
There are many who live in rural parts of Teller County who use the spring to fill tanks for their homes. They now have to find another source. A list of options will be posted at the spring to give them time to figure something out before the Highway 67 springs is capped.