Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion Proposal
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Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion Proposal

Denver Water has proposed a planned expansion of the Gross Reservoir Dam (map locator) in southwest Boulder County. Information on the proposed project (also known as the “Moffat Collection System Project”) can be found on Denver Water’s website at www.GrossReservoir.org.

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Land Use Director’s Determination (Timeline and Details)

  • On March 14, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held a public hearing to consider Denver Water’s appeal of the Boulder County Land Use director’s determination of Oct. 22, 2018. The Board upheld the Director’s determination that the statutory zoned land exemption does not apply to this project and it is subject to review under Article 8 (1041 Review) of the Boulder County Land Use Code. The Board voted (3-0) to uphold the Land Use director’s determination.
  • Shortly afterwards, Denver Water filed a lawsuit against Boulder County claiming that it is exempt from having to submit its project for 1041 review. Boulder County has defended against the lawsuit. The Boulder District Court has not yet made a decision in the case.

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On Jan. 18, 2019, Land Use Director Dale Case affirmed his initial determination that the project is subject to 1041 review (view letter). Denver Water has appealed that decision to the Board of County Commissioners.

On Oct. 12, 2018, Denver Water requested that Boulder County Land Use Director Dale Case determine whether Denver Water’s proposed Gross Reservoir Expansion Project is exempt from Article 8 of the Boulder County Land Use Code,* pursuant to CRS § 24-65.1-107, because the land was zoned for use as a reservoir in 1974 (prior to the State’s adoption of 1041 regulations). Director Case determined that the project is subject to review under the Land Use Code. The Director found that the statutory exemption did not apply.

*Land Use Code Section 8-406 Determination of Whether a Proposed Activity or Development Must go Through the Permit Process states that “The Director shall determine the applicability of Section 8-400 to the conduct of any proposed activity or development. The Director shall make this determination within 10 calendar days after the Director receives a written request from the applicant stating the reasons why the proposed activity or development is not subject to Section 8-400.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Denver Water submitted additional information and requested that the Director reconsider his decision.

Background of Colorado’s “1041 Powers” or “1041 Regulations”

Colorado law grants “1041 powers” to local governments to identify, designate, and regulate areas and activities of state interest through a local permitting process. The general intention of these powers is to allow for local governments to maintain their control over development projects even where the development project has statewide impacts. More information about the regulations passed in 1974 by the Colorado Legislature can be found here.

A 1041 review would allow the Boulder County Planning Commission and the County Commissioners to conduct public hearings and review the application according to the criteria in the Code. At that time, all public input, including emails opposing the project, will be made a part of the record of the 1041 docket and considered by the Planning Commission and the County Commissioners as a part of their decision-making processes. It is the Land Use Director’s determination that before undertaking the project, Denver Water must obtain a 1041 permit under Article 8 of the Boulder County Land Use Code.

Project Background

The Army Corp of Engineers issued its Record of Decision granting Denver Water a federal permit for the project in July 2017. However, before it can commence the project, Denver Water must still receive approval of its hydropower license amendment application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Boulder County has intervened in the FERC application noting many reasons why the county finds the application to be deficient. In its motion to intervene, the county outlined nearly 20 points of contention with the project.

On March 20, 2018, the county responded to FERC’s Supplemental Environmental Assessment, once again pointing out the deficiencies that Boulder County finds in Denver Water’s FERC application and FERC’s environmental assessment of the project.

The county plans to further address impacts and concerns during a county (local) land use review process and has explained to FERC that Denver Water must obtain required a 1041 permit under Article 8 of the Boulder County Land Use Code before it undertakes the project. Denver Water has appealed the Boulder County Land Use Director’s determination that it must obtain a 1041 permit.

Boulder County will continue to update this website with all developments, including the FERC process.

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Email or Text Updates

  • To receive notices about the Gross Reservoir project, look for the “Sign Up for Email Updates” option at the bottom of the page on the Gross Reservoir website.
  • Sign Up to receive Boulder County-related hearing and meeting announcements concerning the proposed Denver Water Gross Reservoir Expansion Project. You can unsubscribe at any time.

*FERC acted as a cooperating agency in the EIS process. FERC issued a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) in February 2018 which addresses issues not addressed in the Final EIS, as information on certain topics was not available at the time that was issued (e.g., dam raise construction activities, tree clearing, and inundation plans, among other topics). The period for submitting comments to FERC is open through April 9, 2018. Documents related to the FERC approval process are available by searching the FERC eLibrary (Docket P-2035, sub-docket 099).