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Guest Opinion in Daily Camera: No Battle Lost

Dec 5, 2020
By Jennie Curtis and the TEG Board

We write in response to the letter to the editor published Nov. 17 regarding the proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir. The piece suggests that the fight is over and that Boulder County is in cahoots with Denver Water to approve the project.

The Environmental Group (TEG) has confirmed via professional polling that the vast majority of people in Boulder County oppose this project. As representatives of those people, we can attest that through more than a decade of activism on this issue, our experience with the county has shown no collusion or  preordained intent to allow Denver Water to carry on with its very wrong-headed proposition to expand Gross Reservoir and dam.

Unfortunately, in this day and age it has become necessary to remind readers that there is a difference between facts and opinions. The two simply do not carry equal weight. While we can applaud living in a country where we are free to have any opinion, let us also acknowledge that for opinions to be facts, they need to be substantiated with evidence and proof. With this said, the opinion piece of Nov. 17 was just that: an opinion.

While it is true that Boulder County decided not to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing (this is not news), it is not an indicator that the county intends to push the project through.

Rather, their decision was a calculated determination to focus efforts and resources on exercising the county’s full authority under Colorado State Statute 1041 once Denver Water completes the application and public hearing process. The public has been notified and invited to comment on Denver Water’s initial 1041 application by Dec. 17. Thus far more than 1,000 responses have been filed, including by legal counsel and subject matter specialists, noting the application is woefully negligent of verifiable data, justification or rigorous, clear execution plans.

TEG can also confirm there has been no intergovernmental agreement signed between Denver Water and Boulder County. In fact, in 2012, after hearing hundreds of concerns during a public hearing, Boulder County Commissioners flatly rejected an IGA as an alternative to 1041 review because its terms would not have adequately protected Boulder County’s interests.

In addition, Boulder County repeatedly raised extensive concerns about the project through the federal processes (with both the Army Corps of Engineers and FERC). Unfortunately, the Corps and FERC did not address the county’s concerns.

Finally, during the last year the county successfully fended off Denver Water’s attempt to avoid the 1041 process via the courts, and now the county has the opportunity to evaluate the project appropriately and in detail.

In contrast to statements in the previously published opinion piece, the FERC licensing order does not contain any language dictating that by not requesting a rehearing the county has relinquished all land use control over the project.

What the FERC order does state is that the “Licensee shall comply with all applicable State, county and municipal laws, ordinances, and/or regulations.” While we are confident that the Boulder County Commissioners intend to fully review Denver Water’s 1041 application, it is also up to the people who live here to participate in the process and to ensure that our elected representatives are acting on behalf of the majority of its constituents.

We ask you to send comments in when requested and to show up for public hearings (surely virtual while the pandemic rages). We believe that the will of the people will prevail, not just because we are right, but because Denver Water’s proposed expansion of Gross Reservoir is flawed, illegal, and unnecessary.

The fight is not over and it is NOT a done deal.

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