From the Boulder Daily Camera (Alex Burness):
Environmentalists are rallying support for a renewed fight against a long-standing proposal from Denver Water to nearly triple the capacity of Gross Reservoir by diverting from the Colorado River Basin…
Before a group of about 30 Monday night at Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place, the directors of two non-profits united in the fight against the expansion — Save the Colorado River and The Environmental Group — made presentations alleging impropriety on Denver Water’s part and soliciting donations to a legal fund.
“They’ve been working on their decision, and we assume, feel very strongly, that (Army Corps) will issue the permit,” said Chris Garre, President of The Environmental Group, which is based in Coal Creek Canyon. “As soon as that happens, the clock starts ticking.”
The Colorado River, the presenters said, is the most dammed and diverted on the planet. At the Colorado River Delta, there is no longer water, and there is concern that an expansion of Gross Reservoir would see some creeks and tributaries drained at the 80 percent level, with some “zero flow” dry days.
An expansion of Gross Reservoir, which is a roughly 25-minute drive west from Boulder on Flagstaff Road, would have a significant local impact. In fact, it would be the biggest construction project in Boulder County history, and would likely take about four or five years to complete.
The proposal seeks to increase the height of the dam by 131 feet, and would require the clearing of about 200,000 trees…
“Caring for the environment,” Garre added, “particularly those who live in the environment, in the forest, is crucial to your experience in Boulder County. This has never been addressed by Denver Water. It’s been ignored.”
While the universal downsides such major construction — noise and temporary aesthetic downgrade, among others — aren’t up for debate, Denver Water tells a very different story about the project.
The public agency that serves 1.3 million people in the Denver metro area gets about 80 percent of its water from the South Platte River System, and another 20 percent from Moffat, a smaller clump up north. Expanding Gross Reservoir and thereby Moffat, Denver Water says, will help balance the existing 80/20 split.
“This imbalance makes the system vulnerable to catastrophic events, such as the Buffalo Creek and Hayman fires, which caused massive sediment runoff into reservoirs on the south side of our system,” the agency published on its website.
During times of severe drought, the argument continues, “We run the risk of running out of water on the north end of our system,” which would primarily impact customers in northwest Denver, Arvada and Westminster.
Denver Water also maintains that as the Front Range continues to be one of the country’s fastest-growing areas, a shortfall in water supply is imminent unless addressed through projects like the one pitched for Gross Reservoir.