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PRESS RELEASE: Denver Water Ignores Its Own Data In Bid for Massive Dam Expansion

For Immediate Release
April 9, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Denver Water Ignores Is Own Data In Bid for Massive Dam Expansion

FERC Public Commented Period Ended Today

Boulder County, CO: Today, Save The Colorado notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that Denver Water has continued to ignore its own data and instead provide spurious projections to those federal agencies in conjunction with Denver Water’s application to spend $400 million of ratepayers’ money to greatly expand Gross Dam and Reservoir in Boulder County. Save The Colorado commissioned an independent review of Denver Water’s actual water use and compared that with Denver Water’s water need projections, a step that could have — and should have — been done by the agencies during their review of the proposed boondoogle.

The analysis depicts a dramatic difference between the amount of water that Denver Water claims it needs — which Denver Water provided to federal agencies as a part of the permitting process for the massive expansion of Gross Dam and Reservoir — and the amount of water that Denver Water actually has used between 2000 and 2016.  

 The graph below depicts just how far Denver Water’s claims veer from reality:

The analysis was done by LRB Hydrology & Analytics LLC, a consulting firm in Boulder, CO. The full report is posted here.

Save The Colorado inserted the technical document, along with other documents, into the public comment period, which ended today, for the “Supplemental Environmental Analysis” for the FERC license process . FERC is expected to make a decision on Denver Water’s application in the next few months. Denver’s population is increasing, but its water use is going down — this is because Denver residents are actively conserving water and changing their habits. 

Importantly, in the Boulder Daily Camera on March 31, 2018, Denver Water also made the claim that the Army Corps had “independently verified the purpose and need and found the updated projections  to be reasonable” (our underline). The Army Corps, in fact, had done no such thing, and instead contracted with the consultants with close ties to those who worked for Denver Water in the development of its “Integrated Resource Plan” in 2002 that declared the need for the Gross expansion. Save The Colorado raised this issue with the lack of truly independent review in comments presented to the Army Corps in 2015.

Further, Denver Water appears to be confused about the status of their own system. The Front Range’s largest water provider continues to double-down on the faulty claims that it still has a “need to expand Gross Reservoir” (Denver Post on April 6, 2018),  while also publicly claiming reductions in water use to highlight its success — on November 5, 2015, Denver Water tweeted a statement made by its CEO, ‘We have reduced water use by 20% while customers have grown by 10%”. See tweet here:

“Denver Water doesn’t need more water — we know it, they know it, and the federal permitting agencies now know it,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado. “This dam project would further drain the Colorado River, cause massive environmental damage in Grand and Boulder counties, cost an exorbitant amount of money, and it isn’t even needed.”

“Further, Denver Water ratepayers should be rewarded for conserving water, not penalized with higher rates and more anti-environmental projects,” continued Wockner. “The Gross Dam project doubles-down on a century-old idea and completely fails to recognize that Denver’s new, progressive, conservation-minded populace wants to do the right thing — conserve water and save rivers.”


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