A Colorado state advisory panel on Thursday is to discuss the conflicting names that sometimes show up on maps of the reservoir and recreational site east of Longmont.
Longmont calls it Union Reservoir, but it once went by the name of Calkins Lake, and various maps still apply that label to the body of water at 461 Weld County Road 26.
That has prompted the federal staff of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names — after having learned of the conflicting map labels last year — to propose officially designating it as Union Reservoir.
Colorado’s own Geographic Naming Advisory Board, a panel established by Gov. Jared Polis to evaluate proposals concerning name changes, new names, and name controversies of geographic features and certain public places in the state of Colorado, on Thursday is to discuss the U.S. Board of Geographic Names’ proposal to make Union Reservoir the lake’s official name.
The state advisory board is expected to eventually make a recommendation to Polis, who then can make a recommendation on the state’s behalf to U.S. Board of Geographic Names, according to Tim Mauck, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
The referral and comment process is complicated, and the state board might not complete its recommendation to the governor on Thursday, Mauck said Wednesday. Ultimately, he said, the U.S. board has the sole ultimate authority to decide the federal geographic designation, although it typically seeks comments from panels like Colorado’s.
Longmont, meanwhile, supports having federal maps display the Union Reservoir name rather than Calkins Lake, according to a Feb. 26 letter from Ken Huson, the city’s water resources manager in Longmont’s Department of Public Works and Natural Resources.
In the letter emailed to a contractor working on the federal geographic names agency staff and provided to the Times-Call on Wednesday, Huson wrote why the city and the Union Reservoir Company “believe it properly should be Union Reservoir.”
Huson said, “The original name for Union Reservoir was Calkins Lake, named by and for the original Longmont city engineer. This was a small natural depression that collected water and served as a buffalo wallow. This small depression was much smaller in both areal extent and capacity to the current reservoir.
“In 1902, the Union Ditch Company, located near LaSalle, Colorado, came to this area in search of a location to build a reservoir for additional water supply. In 1902 the company built the reservoir, covering a much larger area, at which time the newly constructed reservoir was named Union Reservoir,” Huson said.
“This name is also the official water right name for this reservoir with the State of Colorado. In addition the general public in this area knows this facility to be Union Reservoir. As such, both the City of Longmont and the Union Reservoir Company believe this facility should be officially named Union Reservoir with the USGS (United States Geological Survey).”
The city’s website for the Union Reservoir Nature Area — tinyurl.com/ucz5vrb4 — states that the 736-acre body of water that’s about seven miles west of Interstate 25 “was carved out during the last glacial age and is one of only a few natural lakes in Colorado. In 1903, the Union Ditch Company began drilling a tunnel to release water into the St. Vrain Creek. According to Colorado water law, that made Union a true reservoir.”
The Calkins name also can be found on some maps and references to a pond in Longmont’s Jim Hamm Nature Area, 1701 E. County Line Road, but Huson said Wednesday that changing that designation is not part of this referral by the United States Geological Survey to the state about Union Reservoir’s name.
City officials have said in the past that that pond was built in 1879 by town engineer Carlton Calkins. The Hamm family donated the area to the city in 1974 in honor of their son Jim, a military pilot who died in the Vietnam War.
Changing the Hamm Nature Area’s pond designation “would require a future application to the USGS, which we felt would be more prudent to do after the Union Reservoir re-naming was completed,” Huson said Wednesday.
If you watch
What: Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board
Where: Virtual, via Zoom.
This content was originally published here.