By Jennifer McRae

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Denver Water and Boulder County have reached an agreement in the Gross Reservoir expansion. This comes after nearly 20 years of review by federal, state and local to permit the project and puts to rest a federal lawsuit.

Gross Reservoir (credit: Denver Water)

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Denver Water has agreed to commit nearly $13 million and make significant adjustments to construction practices to address the county’s concerns over impacts on the community and environment. In exchange, Boulder County agrees to allow the project to proceed with construction expected to begin in April 2022.

The construction is expected to improve road safety as well as enhance the environment, open space and recreation as part of the reservoir project.

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“We appreciate the County’s effort to work through the issues and come to an agreement that will help ease concerns about the project’s impact on nearby residents, bring benefits to Boulder County residents through enhancements to its trails and open spaces and allow Denver Water to proceed on an undertaking critical to the water security of 1.5 million people in the Denver region,” said Denver Water CEO/Manager Jim Lochhead in a statement. “Denver Water and Boulder County have shared values. We both believe deeply in the need to address climate change, conserve our water resources and protect the region’s precious environment. This agreement reflects those values through dedicated funding and actions on the ground.”

Gross Reservoir (credit: mountainhike.net)

This settlement puts to rest a federal lawsuit filed by Denver Water in July. The lawsuit asked the court to resolve a conflict over whether Boulder County had any land-use permitting authority over the project.

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According to Denver Water, the Gross Reservoir Project aims to balance water supplies and enhance water security for more than 1.5 million people. The request to enlarge the dam would increase the capacity of the reservoir by 77,000 acre-feet, and includes 5,000 acre-feet of storage dedicated to South Boulder Creek flows that will be managed by the cities of Boulder and Lafayette.

Jennifer McRae