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. The application materials may be viewed on the Boulder County webpage Docket SI-20-0003: Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion.

On July 26, 2021, Denver Water requested that the Community Planning & Permitting Director place the Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion application on hold, and Director Dale Case granted the request on July 27. Public hearings set for August and September have been canceled. Read more…

In September of 2020, Denver Water submitted their Areas and Activities of State Interest (1041) application to Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting. The application is currently on hold.

Sign-up to receive information from Boulder County on the proposed Gross Reservoir Expansion ProjectSubmit A Public Comment On The proposed Gross Reservoir Expansion Project Via Email To grossreservoir@bouldercounty.org

Public comments will be accepted during the entire duration of the review process and related public hearings. Written comments are included in staff recommendation packets that are forwarded to the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners. Community members will also have the opportunity to speak during the public comment portion of the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners public hearings.

Timeline

Primary Outlet Works Trashrack Modification Notice – August 18, 2021

On August 18, 2021, Denver Water notified Boulder County of planned underwater construction activities at Gross Reservoir and Dam. This activity is not associated with Docket SI-20-0003. View the letter from Denver Water and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Boulder County Asks Court to Dismiss Gross Reservoir Expansion Lawsuit – August 10, 2021

In July of 2021, Denver Water filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to stop Boulder County from reviewing Denver Water’s planned expansion of the Gross Dam & Reservoir. The lawsuit alleges that the county does not have the authority to regulate the project because the project requires a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In an August 10, 2021 motion, Boulder County asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because Denver Water lost a state court case seeking to stop county review of the project. A Boulder District Court judge ruled in 2019 that the reservoir expansion “is subject to Boulder County’s permitting authority and regulation process.” Denver Water appealed the ruling, but later dropped the appeal. According to the county’s motion, “Denver lost its state court lawsuit, and it is not entitled to a rematch.”

Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion application placed on hold

On July 26, 2021, Denver Water requested that the Community Planning & Permitting Director place the Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion application on hold, and Director Dale Case granted the request on July 27. Public hearings set for August and September have been canceled. Read more…

Director acknowledges Denver Water’s intent to not provide requested information

On June 29, 2021 the Director acknowledged Denver Water’s intent to not provide requested information, and determined the 1041 review can move to public hearings. On July 14, 2021 Boulder County learned that Denver Water filed a lawsuit against the County.

Director extends the referral agency review period

The Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting Department received a communication from Denver Water indicating a Tree Removal Plan will be submitted to Boulder County for review on March 15, 2021. This document was requested in referral agencies’ comments sent on December 23, 2020, so that the potential environmental and transportation impacts of the Plan could be analyzed. Boulder County had also received a request from Jefferson County staff requesting an extension of the review deadline to allow for their thorough and complete review of the submitted materials. In order to provide referral agencies enough time to review the Plan and provide thorough comments, the Community Planning & Permitting Director extended the referral agency review period to March 29, 2021. View the March 4, 2021 Extension of Referral Period memo for Docket SI-20-0003: Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion

Denver Water submitted their Areas and Activities of State Interest (1041) application to Boulder County

Denver Water submitted their Areas and Activities of State Interest (1041) application to Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting in September of 2020. The application will be considered complete only after meeting the requirements as specified under Article 8-509.B. of the Land Use Code. View the application materials on the Docket SI-20-0003: Gross Reservoir & Dam Expansion webpage.

Gross Reservoir Dam Project now subject to local 1041 review

See: Denver Water drops appeal to circumvent Boulder County’s review of proposed Gross Reservoir expansion project (July 29, 2020)


Boulder County responds to issuance of FERC approval for dam project

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the project and ordered Denver Water to proceed with design and construction. The Board of County Commissioners issued this statement:

We plan to review FERC’s decision very closely. In the meantime, it remains critical that Denver Water bring this project through Boulder County’s local permitting process. A Boulder District Court Judge has determined that Denver Water is required to go through the county’s process and we have said all along that because of the substantial impacts to Boulder County residents from any expansion of the dam, we should have local review authority. Denver Water has opposed the county’s position and has appealed the Boulder District Court’s decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

  • 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.

View the:

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).

Added 7/17/2020: On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the project and ordered Denver Water to proceed with design and construction. The Board of County Commissioners issued this statement:

We plan to review FERC’s decision very closely. In the meantime, it remains critical that Denver Water bring this project through Boulder County’s local permitting process. A Boulder District Court Judge has determined that Denver Water is required to go through the county’s process and we have said all along that because of the substantial impacts to Boulder County residents from any expansion of the dam, we should have local review authority. Denver Water has opposed the county’s position and has appealed the Boulder District Court’s decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

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.

Documents:

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).