Denver Water looks to increase diversions from Grand County |

Denver Water looks to increase diversions from Grand County

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

The next major water project on Grand County’s radar screen – coming down the proverbial pipe – is Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project.

And the public is invited to comment on the project starting Friday, Oct. 30, when The Denver Water Moffat Collection System Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement is planned to be released. Similar to the recent process of the Windy Gap Firming Project, the public will be able to comment on the Moffat document for 90 days, until Jan. 28, 2010.

In essence, Denver Water has identified a shortfall in supply beginning in 2016. According to its statements, Denver Water plans to address about 16,000 acre-feet through “additional conservation,” leaving Denver Water with a remaining annual shortage of 18,000 acre-feet.

Denver Water maintains that unless it expands one of its existing reservoirs – particularly the one near Golden, which sits 340 feet above the South Boulder Creek streambed – it may be forced to shut down one of its three treatment plants in the future and would not meet the water demands of Arvada, Wesminster, and the water company that services Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and eastern Jefferson County, among others.

But securing more of its prior-claimed water means additional water would be carried from the Fraser River basin and Williams Fork River basin in Grand County through the Moffat Tunnel.

Although Grand County stakeholders would prefer the agencies analyze both projects together, the Windy Gap firming project and the Moffat one are being handled separately, although their timing is nearly simultaneous.

“We asked both lead agencies to make it one EIS (environmental impact statement),” said Lurline Underbrink Curran. “Each one causes impacts to the same stretch of river.”

The Moffat water project became a catalyst for various West Slope water users – including river districts, water districts, counties and irrigators – to start serious water negotiations with Denver Water, to “settle a number of outstanding issues with Denver,” Underbrink Curran said.

In the recognition that all water projects are intertwined in various ways, and in hopes of arriving at a West Slope settlement, stakeholders have made progress, she said, and for Grand County, that includes ways to put water back in the Fraser River at its lowest flows.

“We are pleased with a lot of things on the table,” she said.

A scientific study of river flows launched by the county, called the Stream Management Plan, has completed its work from Windy Gap downstream. And with its present focus – from “the top of the Moffat System down to Windy Gap” – it should be completed by the end of December, Underbrink Curran said.

“We’ll see how the mitigation and enhancements (offered by Denver Water) work with the Stream Management Plan,” the county manager said, “as well all look at ways to protect the resource.”

Public meetings

The county has already made its official comments to Denver Water about the draft Moffat EIS, but those comments will not be released until the draft is released to the general public, Underbrink Curran said.

In general, the county addressed the “impacts that it’s going to cause,” according to County Commissioner James Newberry, as well as objections to some of the modeling and data, he said.

Public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement are set for 4 p.m. (open house) and 6 p.m. (public comments) on Dec. 1, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 in Grand County, Denver and Boulder to allow interested parties to ask questions and make a comment.

The meetings will end when all participants have had the chance to make their comments.

Of the five alternatives listed in the draft environmental impact statement, Denver Water prefers the Moffat Collection System Project, the alternative that details enlarging the existing Gross Reservoir by 72,000 acre-feet.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail