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Boulder County puts Gross Reservoir Expansion proposal on hold

gross reservoir.jpeg
Posted at 8:47 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 22:47:07-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Following a federal lawsuit filed by Denver Water earlier this month, Boulder County announced Tuesday that the Gross Reservoir Expansion proposal is on hold.

The lawsuit claims that Boulder County officials are stalling on a local permit that's needed so the utility can begin a long-planned reservoir expansion.

According to a press release from the county, Denver Water submitted an Areas and Activities of State Interest (1041) application to Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting in September 2020. The department says it’s requested additional information from Denver Water, and on June 29 told Denver Water it would not provide additional requested information.

Boulder County communicated with Denver Water that it would move forward with planning meetings without providing the information, according to the press release.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court, says Denver Water has made efforts over several years on a local-use land review needed to begin work on Gross Reservoir. It alleges the county has used the process to delay the review, jeopardizing federal and other deadlines for the project.

The lawsuit also alleges that the county does not have the authority to regulate the project because the project requires a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

On Monday, Denver Water’s attorney requested that the Community Planning & Permitting Director Dale Case place the 1041 application on hold, and Case granted the request Tuesday. Case said it “makes sense to have the court resolve the legal issues about whether Boulder County can proceed before conducting hearings on the 1041 review.”

Public Hearings on the project were scheduled to take place in August and September. They’ve been canceled.

The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project would be the largest construction project in the history of Boulder County, if it gets final approval. It would raise the existing 340-foot Gross Dam by an additional 131 feet, increasing reservoir capacity by 77,000 acre-feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have approved the project.