Agency Comments to Boulder on DW 1041 Application
Jan 8, 2021
By Beverly Kurtz
These highlight some of the best feedback from the 162 pages submitted by various departments and agencies to the Boulder County Planning Manager on Denver Water’s 1041 Application. We encourage you to view all of the comments that can be found here. You can also read all 1,967 pages of comments from individuals here! It is encouraging to see so many organizations and individuals stepping up to clearly detail the issues with the application and the project as a whole. GO TEAM!
Boulder County Engineer
Page 2-1 of the 60%DM indicates that truck traffic will not be expected to travel through the city of Boulder. However, p. 3-4 of the 60%DM states the route of truck traffic for tree removal is expected to travel on SH 93 in order to reach the city of Longmont as its final destination. As such, travel through the city of Boulder would be unavoidable.
The FERC hydropower license requires construction of the project according to specified deadlines and milestones. The applicant needs to provide a concise schedule for review prior to approval of the 1041 Permit
Plans Examiner Supervisor
Separate building permits, plan reviews and inspection approvals are required for all; temporary structures, permanent structures and electrical equipment that are part of this proposal. This includes but is not limited to; the dam control building, the quarry operations, construction of a temporary concrete batch/production plant, aggregate processing plant, batch plant offices, crusher office, pump station building, relocated or reconstructed maintenance building, powerhouse, testing lab building, receiving office trailer, office complex trailers, staging area trailers, shop trailers, storage area trailers, all recreation facilities, any retaining walls greater than four feet (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall), and fences greater than 6 feet tall.
Planning Division Manager
Staff recognizes that the nature and extent of the proposed project involves the potential for significant potential for environmental damage (i.e., loss of natural resources, alteration of wildlife habitat, changes to groundwater, increased disturbance along roadways, etc.) and so requires Denver Water provide specifics related to less environmentally damaging alternatives
The inconsistent information, out-of-date data, and lack of information contained in the application related is insufficient for staff to conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of the code criteria. Staff understands Denver Water’s application materials rely heavily on materials submitted for federal permitting processes but points out that the Boulder County land use application and review process is significantly different from those federal processes. Based on reviews conducted in the initial referral period staff finds significant additional information is necessary before the application can be considered complete.
The out-of-date nature of the data and information used for the applicant’s analysis presented in application materials does not allow staff to conduct a thorough review and analysis of the proposed project.
Engineering Development Manager
Multiple phases of construction are proposed by the applicant. Updated plans must be provided as part of the approval of this 1041 permit which reflects activities associated with each phase of construction, including, but not limited to: traffic impacts, trail construction, construction staging and parking, staging locations, erosion control and stabilization of disturbed earth, cut and fill locations for earthwork, grading and drainage plans.
Recreational traffic estimates must reflect actual conditions more so than outlined in the 60% TIA, which included a traffic count conducted in December 2015, and were adjusted by 10 trips to and 10 trips from the site to account for seasonal differences. Staff does not feel that the recreational traffic estimates accurately reflect the current conditions, nor the peak recreational traffic during the summer months and must be updated.
Department of Community Planning and Permitting Long Range Planner
Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion Project application (the application) dated 9/21/20 is a 370 page document which then includes multiple exhibit documents which mustbe referenced to obtain pieces of information not included in the application. These exhibit documents are each 100s of pages and present different information than is presented in the application. The application should provide complete summary information of the detailed reports provided as exhibits. The application should be amended to provide all relevant information in a complete and consistent manner so that it may be understood when reviewed by agencies, the public, and decisions makers.
Denver Water’s need for the project is discussed in an 18 year old Integrated Water Resource Plan (2002)… and state “the problem is not lack of overall water supply…but unequal distribution of the available water. That is, Denver Water currently has adequate water supply in its supply systems but not enough water is available for treatment at the Moffat plant”… The Moffatt Treatment Plan is being replaced by a new plant at Ralston Reservoir so the conclusions of the 2002 IWRP which are based on the problems with the MTP are hard to understand given the changes in the Denver Water system Neither the EIS or the 2002 IWRP reflect the new Northwater Treatment Plant next to Ralston Reservoir, the system analysis is out of date. Additionally, much of the analysis and rationale for the project is based on a system analysis where lack of available water at the Moffatt Treatment Plant is the critical flaw being resolved by this project. Updated materials reflecting a more accurate picture of the Denver Water system should be provided.
Application materials also lack information related to the proposed project’s potential impacts on climate change. Climate change is an issue identified by Boulder County elected officials as one that is significant. County Commissions have consistently instructed staff to review applications with an eye on proposed projects’ potential impact on climate change and to recommend conditions of approval intended to mitigate any potential negative impacts. Denver Water’s application materials do not address this issue in any detail, and staff requests additional, detailed information related to the potential impacts of the Dam and Reservoir Expansion project on climate change.
As proposed Boulder County bears a significant burden to meet the needs of Denver Water yet the application fails to describe any actions by Denver Water which attempt to relieve this burden and locate the impacts of the water utility needs within the Denver Water service area meaningful conservation and land use planning programs. Given the lack of information and the concerns identified it is difficult to find the application on compliance with Comprehensive or the Land Use Code.
Floodplain Program Planner
Our review of the application materials revealed that the applicant has not provided a quantitative analysis of the project’s impact on regulatory base (1% annual chance) flood discharges, flood elevations, and floodplain extent on South Boulder Creek. Without a quantitative analysis based on regulatory data, the county cannot evaluate the impacts of the project on the regulatory floodplain.
Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners
The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners expresses their opposition to the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project. Impacts on Gilpin County and other eastern slope communities have not been adequately considered and addressed.
Jefferson County requests more specific information about the planned routing of trucks accessing Gross Reservoir to and from both the east and west sides of the project. Jefferson County’s concerns include the noise and traffic impact of trucks to unincorporated areas of Jefferson County and incorporated areas including the cities of Golden, Arvada, and Wheat Ridge.
Nederland Board of Trustees
We oppose the project and respectfully request that you (Boulder County) deny it.
Boulder County Parks and Open Space
Staff concludes that the local impact of the proposal does represent a significant loss of wildlife habitat for species remaining in the area. There are also no conclusions or even discussions about the project’s likely impacts on the county’s wildlife species of concern. ” In the instances that field work was completed for species, the surveys for many of those appear to be about 15 years old. The applicant shall update the Recreation Management Plan for the area and address: how the future recreation sites in the project area will accommodate increased visitation; measures to reduce traffic on local roads by recreationists; input from local stakeholders including BCPOS; and the proposed BCCP regional trail in the area.
There has never been a project with such a magnitude of impacts since before the county’s first Comprehensive Plan was written in 1978, 42 years ago. The application (page 65) states that “Denver Water has concluded that the Project is consistent with the [Boulder County] Comprehensive Plan.” Staff disagrees; the proposal is not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.