Written by Miguel Palacios
A floating dock resting in the mud and a receded shoreline is what currently remains of the Loveland Reservoir that has been drained to 32% capacity. Owned and controlled by the Sweetwater Water Authority, the decision to transfer over 2 million gallons of its waters to the Sweetwater Reservoir south of Spring Valley came to ensure they would have water to provide for their other 200,000 customers. Unfortunately, the transfer has been the cause for dispute between the water authority and the residents who use the lake for recreational purposes.
One of the issues caused by the transfer is that it left Loveland Lake with a decimated fishing area.
David Thomas is a resident of the area and shared that he had a long history with the lake. He spent lots of time there as a child fishing in what was once a restricted area. When he was caught, he said he had to go in to explain to a judge why he felt that it was unfair that the best part of the lake to fish in was deemed a restricted area. It is because of this activism that the lake is open and accessible to the public for recreational uses, and he says he continues to fight for it.
As of now, the Sweetwater Authority is more concerned with their business interests than with resident concerns. Ron Mosher, Sweetwaters engineering director, stated, “Our mission is to provide safe, potable water to nearly 200,000 people in our service area… That’s our focus and that’s what the focus of staff has been and needs to be.” In other words, utility comes before recreation.
Hector Martinez, chair of the Sweetwater Authority Board, explained that it is their desire that more people would use both of the reservoirs for recreational purposes, but they are seriously considering allowing the Loveland reservoir to be drained even further, to 5% capacity.
As it is, Thomas estimates that the shoreline is now less than 2 miles, which makes for crowded shorelines on the weekends. He stated, “We’re like shoulder to shoulder, ‘cause there’s only a handful of very decent spots to fish…” Fellow fisherman Russell Walsh has also taken issue with current conditions of Loveland Lake and has contacted elected officials and other agencies, seeking help, but has received none.
It is likely that the Sweetwater Authority will allow the further draining of Loveland because of the possibility for large financial gain. Loveland Reservoir is one of the few lakes with a free-of-charge fishing program but if it is drained to 5%, there will hardly be enough room for fisheries or fish.