Gross Dam Expansion
The Big Picture
While the expansion of the Gross Reservoir will have a great impact on Boulder County over the next seven years or longer, the "extra" drinking water supply stored in the expanded reservoir will exclusively serve Denver Water customers at the expense of Boulder and surrounding areas.
The project was intended to address an expected water shortfall that would have hit in 2016. However, due to conservation efforts, that shortfall never happened. Sustainable water management practices are required in this era of drying climate. Expanding Gross Dam is using 20th century technology to solve a 21st century challenge. The project is also claimed to solve an imbalance between Denver Water's north and south supply systems, however in the now likely event that the expanded capacity reservoir remains "unfillable", their imbalance will remain.
Rather than spending $380 to $450 million (and maybe more) on a dam expansion project that threatens our local environment, we should concentrate our efforts on continuing water conservation efforts in the Denver area and look for ongoing, sustainable solutions to support a growing population in a world affected by climate change. Climate scientists tell us that by the middle of this century there will likely not be enough water to fill even the existing reservoir, let alone a larger one. This ill advised project, should it proceed, may well result in Denver Water "building" a big, dry hole.
A Documentary made for PBS by Boulder cinematographer Len Aitken, gives an overview of the controversy over the expansion of Gross Dam and Reservoir.