History Recycled: Capitol Hill Reservoir No. 2
In February 2006, Denver Water began demolishing Capitol Hill Basin No. 2, a reservoir that had served the city for nearly a century.
In 1887, when the Congress Park and Cheesman Park area was known as Cemetery Hill, the first Capitol Hill reservoir was built to hold water from Cherry Creek. In the following years, a pump station was added with steam pumps to move the water to homes in the Capitol Hill area.
Basin No. 2, built just east of Basin No. 1, went into service late in 1906. It was much larger than Basin No. 1 and held roughly 100 acre-feet of water, which was enough to serve Denver’s population of 150,000 for a few days. In addition to serving the Capitol Hill area, the basins served downtown by gravity flow.
Basin No. 2 was roofed with wood for more than fifty years, and photographs of the interior show shadowy pillars rising from murky water.
For decades, the Capitol Hill basins would hold water from Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, until Cherry Creek water was dropped in favor of water from the South Platte. In 1916, a new steam pump was added to move the water from the reservoirs, only to be replaced 20 years later with a new electric pump. In 1947, Basin No. 1 was expanded and roofed with concrete. (Basin No. 2 did not get a concrete roof until 1972.) In 1955, Denver Water added Basin No. 3, increasing the site’s total storage to 80 million gallons.
Fifty years later, the site had more short-term storage than its site needed. Water in the service-area reservoirs is moved within a week when possible, but the three basins held more than a week’s worth of supply their portion of the service area.
In 2003, Denver Water took Basin No. 2 out of service and attempted to remodel it to serve as a treatment, storage and delivery site for recycled water. When it was found unsuitable for that task, Denver Water had to demolish Basin No. 2. The roof came down in February 2006.
In its place, Denver Water built a reservoir for recycled water, which was completed in 2007. It holds six million gallons compared with the old reservoir's 30 million. The portion of the old Basin No. 2 that the new reservoir did not replace was leveled and filled.
Basin No. 2 saw a century of service, evolving to meet the needs of a maturing city and the changing demands of its population. Its history reflects Denver Water's constant commitment to providing a safe and sustainable water supply, using the best technology and wisdom available.