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Boulder County Drains Denver Water's Moffat Project

January 8, 2013

Boulder, CO -- 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 massively expanded Gross Dam and Reservoir along South Boulder Creek in the mountains southwest of Boulder. Over 200 people attended the public hearing for the project, with dozens eloquently speaking in opposition offering a plethora of facts and arguments that swayed the Commissioners' position on the project.

gross-dam-hearing"We're so proud of the commissioners and grateful to the community who turned up in droves to help educate and inform the decision Boulder County made," said Chris Garre, President of The Environmental Group, a coalition of county citizens opposing the project.  "The commissioners' decision fills us with a tremendous amount of optimism that Boulder County will stand its ground to protect the environmental and economic interests of its citizens."

Neighbors currently living near the dam and reservoir offered passionate opposition to the project at the hearing.  The project would require up to 7 years to build creating massive truck traffic, blasting, noise and dust, and flooding 400 acres of pristine wildlife habitat and recreational lands as well as a beautiful waterfall just upstream from the current reservoir.  Further, hearing speakers strongly questioned Denver's need for the water, stating that water conservation and efficiency were more sustainable paths forward for Denver and its sprawling suburbs.

"It's clear to my neighbors and I that this would be an environmental catastrophe, totally out of sync with Boulder County's vision statement," said Gabrielle Louise, a Boulder County resident.  "A multitude of concerns and research-intensive arguments were presented by citizens.  Boulder County needs to address all of those implications and impacts rather than make a hasty decision under pressure from Denver Water."

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 released right before the holidays warning Southwest U.S. decision-makers that the Colorado River is already overtaxed and extremely threatened.

"Boulder County's decision to not support this river draining project rings in the New Year for our efforts to protect and restore the Colorado River," said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action which works to address dam and reservoir projects in Colorado.  "Coloradans need to conserve water and enhance our rivers to protect our environment and economy for future generations as well as for fish and wildlife -- once again, the citizens of Boulder County are leading that path forward."