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Denver Water sues Boulder County over reservoir expansion

July 14, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Denver Water has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Boulder County officials are stalling on a local permit that’s needed so the utility can begin a long-planned reservoir expansion.

Wednesday’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, contends the utility has made good-faith efforts over several years on a local-use land review needed to begin work on Gross Reservoir. It alleges the county has used the process to delay the review, jeopardizing federal and other deadlines for the project.

In June, county planning and permitting staff determined that Denver Water hadn’t provided satisfactory answers to requests for information on the project. Still, the county scheduled planning commission and county commissioners’ hearings in August and September, respectively, on the expansion.

County Attorney Ben Pearlman said in a statement late Wednesday that the county hadn’t been served with the lawsuit but will file “a thorough response at the appropriate time.”

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The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project would be the largest construction project in the history of Boulder County if it gets final approval. It would raise the existing 340-foot (104-meter) Gross Dam by an additional 131 feet (40 meters), increasing reservoir capacity by 77,000 acre-feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have approved the project.