BOULDER COUNTY, Colorado (CBS4) – Denver Water is suing Boulder County for delays in processing applications for the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project. In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Denver Water alleged that Boulder County exceeded its powers by repeatedly asking for information about the project.
Denver Water has also made good faith efforts for years to work with Boulder County to gain county permits, including two attempts at an intergovernmental agreement, solid engagement with county employees and neighbors, and participating in a local land use review , known as the “1041 Process”. Unfortunately, Boulder County has not been receptive and is using the 1041 process to thwart the project and is expanding and delaying its review to the point that it is now jeopardizing the entire project, “Denver Water said in a press release.
Denver Water received federal approval in July 2020 to proceed with the expansion of the Gross Reservoir. The process of obtaining environmental permits for the $ 380 million project began in 2003.
The project aims to balance water supplies and improve water security for more than 1.5 million people. The enlarged dam will add 77,000 acre-feet to the reservoir’s capacity and includes 5,000 acre-feet of storage for the South Boulder Creek rivers administered by the towns of Boulder and Lafayette.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved the project in 2016, followed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2017. Environmental groups sued the expansion in 2018, claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated environmental laws in granting a permit violate the height of the Gross Dam by 131 feet.
In 2019, a district court judge backed Boulder County’s motion to review the project. Denver Water appealed the judgment.
Boulder County Attorney Ben Pearlman made the following statement to CBS4 on Wednesday night:
Denver Water’s new lawsuit comes as a surprise because Denver Water County officials announced just two weeks ago that the county was planning hearings with the Boulder County Planning Commission in August and the Board of County Commissioners in September, despite Denver Water was unwilling to do so providing all of the information that the county staff had requested. The complaint was not served on the district. The prosecution will review the claims and provide a thorough response in due course. “