Saturday should be a lovely day for a cookout, and neighbors to Gross Reservoir are invited to a community feed, courtesy of the folks who plan the largest construction project in Boulder County history on its shores.
Denver Water, which at one time had hoped to launch construction for its Gross Dam expansion this year but now is slowed on those ambitions by a legal battle, is planning to “celebrate another great summer of outreach and relationship building” at its informational yurt, perched at 3656 Gross Dam Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We hope you can stop by for a burger or hot dog and learn more about the project. New information will be available regarding temporary recreation access during construction, roadway safety improvements and proposed tree removal plan,” states a notice on the Denver Water project website.
Denver Water spokesman Travis Thompson said this marks the fourth year such summer-ending cookouts have been held.
“We will have information regarding the temporary recreation access during construction, roadway safety improvements and the proposed tree removal plan — along with anything else folks would like to discuss about the project,” Thompson said. Burgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs will be on the menu.
Gary Wockner won’t be there scarfing down burgers. Wockner is director of Save the Colorado, which is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its July 2017 decision to issue a key federal permit approving the $464 million project (in 2025 dollars).
“If Denver Water wanted to build relationships, they would not build a massive, river-destroying, neighborhood-destroying dam.”
Denver Water’s plan is to raise the Gross Reservoir Dam in southwestern Boulder County by 131 feet to a height of 471 feet, and to expand the reservoir’s capacity by 77,000 acre-feet, up to a total of 119,000 acre-feet, to ensure service to its 1.4 million (and growing) Denver-area customers.
Denver Water’s schedule, according to its project website, shows dam design and engineering from 2018 into 2020, and construction activities to begin in 2020. Lawyers and judges will have a lot to say about whether that comes to pass.
The Boulder County Commissioners voted unanimously in March to affirm Land Use Director Dale Case’s finding that Denver Water must go through its land use review process in order to proceed with the project, despite holding the Corps of Engineers permit.
Denver Water answered by suing the county commissioners in Boulder District Court, claiming commissioners had “exceeded their jurisdiction and/or abused their discretion,” and that a zoned land exemption precluded the utility from having to go through that process.
Boulder County filed its answer to that suit Sept. 13, stating “Substantial evidence in the record demonstrates that reservoirs and dams were not permitted uses within the Forestry District, and Gross Dam was not located in the county’s mapped and designated Flood Regulatory Area by May 17, 1974” when the state Legislature enacted the legislation giving the county its land use review powers on such projects.
Denver Water must weigh in with its brief on the issues at plan in that suit by Oct. 7, and a ruling by Boulder District Judge Andrew Macdonald could come a few months beyond that date.
Those planning to attend Saturday are asked to RSVP so the proper amount of food and refreshments can be provided, and can do so at 303-628-6348, or by email to email@example.com.