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July 29, 2020

Denver Water drops appeal to circumvent Boulder County’s review of proposed Gross Reservoir expansion project


Gross Reservoir Dam Project now subject to local (county) review


(Boulder County, Colo. - July 29, 2020) -- Denver Water has asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to dismiss its appeal of the district court’s decision in favor of Boulder County regarding the proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir. The motion effectively ends a years-long battle between Boulder County and Denver Water over whether the project is subject to a county permitting process.

For several years, Boulder County has informed Denver Water that it must go through the county’s Areas of State Interest (or “1041”) land use review process and receive an approval before proceeding with the project. However, instead of giving the county commissioners an opportunity to hear from Denver Water and county residents about the project through the public hearing process, Denver Water attempted to bypass all local review. It eventually sued Boulder County over its decision that 1041 regulations apply to the proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir.

A Boulder District Court determined that Denver Water must apply to the county for a 1041 permit. Denver Water appealed the decision, but Denver Water’s action today to abandon that appeal means that a Boulder County Review of the project will take place.

Board of County Commissioners’ Statements

“This is a significant victory for Boulder County. It’s vital that county residents and their elected officials have a voice on major projects like the expansion of Gross Dam,” said Commissioner Elise Jones. “Now, finally, those voices will be heard.”

This is a great win. We know that if the Gross Dam expansion project would have major impacts on Boulder County residents and our environment,” said Commissioner Matt Jones. “State law says that counties have the right to review these projects, and for good reason. Local officials are in the best position to understand and review the project’s impacts.”

Although Denver Water’s project has been approved at the federal level, Boulder County says that’s not enough. “We understand the federal agencies need to have their say, but the fact remains that Denver Water has proposed the largest single construction project ever in Boulder County. We are glad that Denver Water is finally ending its efforts to resist county review,” said Commissioner Deb Gardner.

Denver Water is expected to submit its application by late summer or early fall. After county staff reviews the project, it will be subject to public hearings before the Boulder County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners.

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Updates and more information will be made available on the county's website at www.boco.org/GrossReservoir.


Boulder county Board of County Commissioners