Denver, Colorado - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, has announced a tentative date for the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project - it is now anticipated that the projected Final EIS will be released in February 2014. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the Final EIS, which will in turn be considered prior to final decision-making by the Corps.
The Final EIS and public comments will serve as a basis for the Corps’ decision on whether to issue or deny a Permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir, located in Boulder County, Colo. The Corps’ regulatory program is authorized by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to regulate certain waterways-related activities. As the lead regulatory agency for the Moffat Project EIS, the Corps is charged with the responsibility of impartially reviewing Denver Water’s proposal to ensure compliance with environmental and other federal laws.
The state of Colorado is proactively seeking solutions for meeting its future water needs while ensuring the health of its rivers and streams. Through the Moffat Collection System Project, Denver Water proposes to meet its water supply obligations and provide a more reliable supply infrastructure, while advancing its environmental stewardship. The project intends to enlarge the existing 41,811-acre foot Gross Reservoir to 113,811 AF, which equates to an expanded water surface area from 418 acres to 818 acres. Using existing collection infrastructure, water from the Fraser River, Williams Fork River, Blue River and South Platte River would be diverted and delivered to Denver’s existing water treatment system during average and wet years. These depletions will impact whitewater boating opportunities on all directly affected segments, in addition to reducing flows in the Colorado River.
In June 2012, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the president use his authority to coordinate federal agencies to bring an expeditious conclusion to the federal permitting process for the project. The Corps, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Division, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Grand County have worked together to meet Federal requirements for the Final EIS while satisfying state and local concerns.
On Monday, January 7, 2013, the Boulder County commissioners unanimously rejected a proposed agreement with Denver Water to support the Moffat Collection System Project. The project proposes to drain 18,000 acre feet of water out of the Fraser and Upper Colorado Rivers, pipe that water through Moffat Tunnel at the continental divide and down into a proposed expanded Gross Dam and Reservoir along South Boulder Creek in the mountains southwest of Boulder.
The Boulder County commissioners' decision not to sign this Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) doesn't stop the proposed Moffat Collection System Project, but it does send a clear signal to Denver Water that the County is not willing to settle for such inadequate compensation and mitigation. Further, the decision strikes a stake in the gut of yet another project that would further deplete the Colorado River ecosystem and comes on the heels of a report by the U.S. Department of Interior warning Southwest U.S. decision-makers that the Colorado River is already overtaxed and extremely threatened.
To remain up-to-date on the progress of the final report, please visit the Army Corps Website.
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