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Colorado Daily Letters to the Editor - Go Away, Denver Water

Jan 5, 2020
By Scott Engle

Denver Water wants to proceed with the largest construction project in Boulder’s history — the proposed Gross Dam expansion, without going through our local permitting process as required by state law 1041. Kudos to the Boulder County commissioners who voted unanimously (with strong citizen support) to make Denver Water go through the permitting process.

Denver Water, with their deep pockets, quickly filed an appeal, creating more legal expenses on the community. Don’t let their rhetoric fool you. Denver Water does not care about us or our beloved environment.

Thankfully, and not surprisingly, on Dec. 27 the Boulder District Judge Andrew Macdonald ruled against Denver Water’s appeal.

Denver Water’s plan is to expand the capacity of the Gross Reservoir by approximately three-fold by raising the dam. They propose using water pumped from tributaries of the Colorado River on the Western Slope. This would devastate this already depleted watershed. Furthermore, climatologists predict environmental changes will make it unlikely the reservoir could ever even be completely filled.

Denver Water argues that it needs the water to keep up with expanding demands due to population increase. However, according to their own numbers, Denver Water’s water usage has consistently decreased over the past two decades in spite of population growth. Water re-use and conservation is the answer. We have barely begun to realize this potential. Up to 40% of Denver’s water is used to keep grass green.

Technologies exist to store water in depleted aquifers. This solution stores water without the evaporation inherent with reservoirs and doesn’t destroy precious ecosystems. The proposed expansion would kill hundreds of thousands of trees and destroy irreplaceable habitat for cougars, bear, elk, coyotes, turkey, etc. Denver Water is approaching this project with an outdated mindset. Building bigger dams and reservoirs is not the answer.

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