Industry News, Continued
According to a May 1, 2014 article in the Boulder Weekly,
Conflict over the Moffat project may be avoided, since all the parties worked on this collaboratively," says Conservation Colorado advocacy director Becky Long. "My sense is Denver has been pretty willing to mitigate and negotiate," says Long, who has deep roots in rural agricultural water use after growing up in the ranch and grazing lands of the Lower Blue Valley, north of Silverthorne. Even before fully studying the final environmental impact statement, Long says it's clear that this proposal is different from many past projects because of the huge effort put into mitigating the effects of new diversions and storage, especially on the Western Slope.
The efforts made by Denver Water to involve all stakeholders in the project and adjust their plan based on their feedback should go a long way to model future discussions on projects that are contemplated as part of the State's overall water plan. Protecting natural resources while meeting the water needs of a growing population like Denver is no easy task. Having advocates like Long onboard is important to the success of the project.
The article continues,
Some legal and policy experts at the University of Colorado Boulder agree with [Long's] assessment, while cautioning that a renewed push for an additional big new transmountain diversion in the forthcoming state water plan could exacerbate overall tensions, making it harder to reach agreement on relatively smaller projects like Moffat. "I don't have strong opinions about the merits of the project," says Doug Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Program at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, University of Colorado Law School. "I can say that it reflects several elements of modern water storage projects in that it enlarges an existing facility rather than creating a new one, was accompanied by negotiations with key West Slope interests, and is inspired by a desire to protect the reliability of the existing system to shocks such as fires and drought," Kenney told the Boulder Weekly via email.
However, in April 2016, there were signs of a renewed fight against the project as the US Army Corp was expected to approve the permit for the project. Daily Camera Boulder County News staff writer Alex Burness wrote on April 5, 2016:
Environmentalists are rallying support for a renewed fight against a long-standing proposal from Denver Water to nearly triple the capacity of Gross Reservoir by diverting from the Colorado River Basin. The proposed expansion, also known as the Moffat Collection System Project, has been in the works for more than a dozen years, but Denver Water is now awaiting decisions on a series of permit applications that could see the plan approved at long last. Chief among them is a Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to rule this summer. Before a group of about 30 Monday night at Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place, the directors of two non-profits united in the fight against the expansion-Save the Colorado River and The Environmental Group-made presentations alleging impropriety on Denver Water's part and soliciting donations to a legal fund. "They've been working on their decision, and we assume, feel very strongly, that [Army Corps] will issue the permit," said Chris Garre, President of The Environmental Group, which is based in Coal Creek Canyon. "As soon as that happens, the clock starts ticking."
There will be a tremendous amount of drilling associated with this project during and in advance of construction. The project requires 45,000 truckloads of sand and gravel to feed the onsite concrete batch plant. Denver Water is extremely sensitive to the impact to the community during construction and will be establishing borrow pits around their property to minimize the vehicle
traffic along the canyon roads. Many soil borings to profile the lithology have been completed and more are likely. The expansion project is one of the largest in US history and will make Gross Dam the largest dam in Colorado (471 feet tall).
Despite the concern over the environmental impact to the region once the project is complete, and despite issues that locals may have to face during construction, it is clear the project will benefit residents in the region by protecting their water supply. It will be interesting to see how the situation continues to evolve.