Thursday March 14th, 2019
Boulder County Courthouse (1325 Pearl St. 3rd Floor)
Details on the Public Hearing
Denver Water Assertions:
Denver Water is attempting to bypass local authority by claiming they are exempt from a local permitting process authorized to Boulder County under House Bill 1041. Denver Water asserts they are exempt from local permitting process (1041) because:
Denver Water asserts that when the 1041 Authority came into effect in 1974, Gross Reservoir was zoned in the County’s Flood Regulatory Area;
Denver Water additionally claims that Gross Reservoir was built in 1954 with the intention of eventually expanding. Thus, Denver Water believes this grandfathers them into a “use by right” zoning that preempts the 1974 House Bill.
See more below
Boulder County Land Use Director Determination:
Boulder County’s Land Use Director determined Denver Water’s claims are not valid and Denver Water is subject to local authority. He said that while a small portion of the planned expansion land is zoned under the 100-year County Floodplain, a large portion of the proposed expansion area is not. Even if it were, the “county requires a planning commission review and approval prior to such development” and none was ever conducted. Furthermore, in 1974, the areas of the planned expansion were zoned as Forestry and therefore there is no valid claim to “use by right” for the reservoir.
See more below.
Goal of Public Hearing:
The Boulder County Commissioners are holding a public hearing to decide if they agree with Denver Water’s appeal or with their own Land Use Director’s determination.
It’s imperative to show our elected officials we will not stand for an unnecessary project that causes such grave environmental devastation and relies on outdated data.
Save Boulder County Campaign Stance:
The Stop Gross Dam Expansion campaign led by TEG (The Environmental Group of Coal Creek Canyon) is pushing for the Boulder County Commissioners to rule with Dale Case, the county’s Land Use Director, so that legal action will take place to ensure that Denver Water goes through the local permit process. The local permit process will take a look at the merit of the project and force Denver Water to submit updated data. Denver Water currently relies on pre-2002 data that has wildly different predictions on water use and need than is evidenced by current data. It also does not take into consideration any effects of climate change.
What happens after the hearing?
After this decision is made, this case could go to court and a judge would rule with Boulder County’s 1041 stance or with Denver Water’s claim of pre-emption
Denver Water claims they only need to obtain one more license from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to begin construction. However, if the Boulder County Commissioners and a judge rule with the Land Use Director's determination, Denver Water can be forced to undergo the local process. This would delay construction and allow for more public comments on the merit of the project.
On 3/14/19, Boulder County Commissioners made a unanimous decision that Denver Water must undergo a 1041 process before construction starts.
Hundreds of concerned residents spoke at the hearing that lasted over 4 hours. The decision was unanimous and the Commissioners sided with Dale Case, their Land Use Director, and his determination that Denver Water must undergo the 1041 process. We organized dozens of individuals who showed up despite the snow storm and were a blaze of blue t-shirts and Stop Gross Dam Expansion stickers.
Denver Water was attempting to bypass local authority by claiming they are exempt from a local permitting process authorized to Boulder County under House Bill 1041. Boulder County’s Land Use Director, Dale Case, determined Denver Water’s claims are not valid and Denver Water is subject to local authority. Denver Water is challenging that decision. The public hearing was held to present the case to the Boulder County Commissioners so they could decide if they agreed with Denver Water’s appeal or with their own Land Use Director’s determination.
The Follow on:
Denver Water was attempting to bypass local authority by claiming they weren't subject to local 1041 regulations. Boulder County determined that they did need to get a 1041 permit. Denver Water sued the County but lost. They appealed that decision, but subsequently dropped that appeal when they received their FERC license which stipulated a tight timeline in which they had to complete the project. They have now requested to submit a 1041 application to the county.
Documents with details are linked below.