Gross Reservoir Mitigation Fund
Top of Gross Reservoir Dam

Gross Reservoir Community Impact Mitigation Fund

We Want to Hear From You — Take Our Survey

The Boulder County Commissioners welcome your feedback, questions, and comments on the Denver Water Gross Reservoir settlement fund (see below for details). By participating in the Gross Reservoir Community – 2022 survey, you help determine the outcome of the $5 million mitigation fund.

Brief Summary

In July 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Order amending Denver Water’s hydropower license that permitted Denver Water to proceed with the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project. With this Order, Denver Water was able to claim that FERC has “complete authority” over the project and was able to avoid County review of the largest construction project in Boulder County history. In addition, Denver Water sued Boulder County to make sure the County’s local land use (1041) authority was preempted (denied) by federal regulation.

In November 2021, Boulder County reached an agreement with Denver Water to resolve the federal lawsuit by Denver Water v. Boulder County. The settlement directed Denver Water to pay more than $12.5 million to Boulder County to mitigate the impacts of the dam expansion project, including $5 million for a fund to be distributed to area residents to help mitigate noise, light, and air impacts to households near the Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion project. Read more about the settlement agreement…

For More Information:

RECENT PAST MEETINGS

Boulder County Commissioners’ Community Meetings*

  • In-person: Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022 (5:30-7 p.m.) at the CCCIA Community Center
  • Virtual: Monday, June 13, 2022, to discuss plans for determining how the $5 million Denver Water Mitigation Settlement Fund will be distributed to impacted community residents.

*To discuss plans for determining how the $5 million Denver Water Mitigation Settlement Fund will be distributed to impacted community residents.

Open Houses:

Location: CCCIA Community Center
Thursday, Aug. 18 – 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Wednesday, Aug. 24 – 5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.
Note: Nederland area date TBD

Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion Settlement FAQ

Denver Water had a strong legal case and the Boulder County stated that it was not going to be able to use its local permitting authority to stop the expansion project. This raises the question of why Denver Water would settle with Boulder County rather than simply waiting for a judgment from the court. In pursuing the expansion project, Denver Water reached agreements with other cities and counties, citing its preference to work with communities rather than have an adversarial relationship. For example, numerous western slope counties, cities, irrigation districts, water authorities, and conservation organizations decided to support the expansion project because of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement (“CRCA”). Similarly, the City of Boulder and the City of Lafayette agreed to support the expansion project after Denver Water committed to establishing an environmental pool to enhance stream flow in South Boulder Creek during low flow periods. In addition to its preference for working with other Colorado communities, Denver Water was concerned about financial impact that potential delays caused by protracted litigation would have on the expansion project. The settlement removed the uncertainly related to the timeframe of the litigation.

Denver Water made numerous commitments related to the expansion project in the settlement agreement, including a $5 million resident mitigation fund, $50,000 per year for park rangers and other measures during recreation closure, easements for recreational trails, $5.1 million for use in acquiring new County open space, a transfer of 70 acres of Denver Water property to Boulder County for open space, $1 million for a habitation restoration project, $250,000 for a program aimed at minimizing the carbon impact of forest waste, and $1.25 million for a climate innovation/impact fund. The full settlement agreement is here.

All of Denver Water’s commitments are contingent upon Denver Water’s awarding a construction contract and the project proceeding to construction. Denver Water is required to fulfill most of its monetary commitments when Denver Water begins construction on the dam raise portion of the project (anticipated 2024). Boulder County has received the funding for the $5 million-dollar resident mitigation fund and will be working with Pinyon Environmental and the Gross Reservoir community to determine how best to distribute those funds directly to the impacted community.

The $5 million dollar mitigation fund its intended for use of households near the expansion project who will experience noise, light, and air impacts. The County will hire a third-party contractor with expertise in this area to work with the community to determine impacts, mitigation strategies, and make recommendations regarding fair distributions of the funds. The Commissioners have committed to a transparent process which will include community input into the distribution process.

Once the County has been able to assess all impacts and the County’s contractor has completed its evaluation of impacted households, the Commissioners will determine the process for distribution of funds. While no decisions about the specifics of this process have been decided, it is anticipated that fund distribution would begin in the spring of 2023. For updated information on this process, please sign up for the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project news list.