Denver Water Expansion Plan Focus of Legal Battle

In the next few decades, either the Colorado River or Denver Water users are going to be left high and dry according to opposing sides involved in the dispute over the Gross Dam reservoir expansion project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit for Denver Water last month to begin the project by raising the dam 131 feet. Conservation groups like Save the Colorado have long opposed the project, but since the approval of the permit last month, they’re gearing up to pursue legal action sometime in the fall. The proposed project would increase the reservoir’s volume by 25 billion gallons.

Opponents of the project argue that data on water use backs up their claim that the expansion simply isn’t necessary, and that the city doesn’t need the water. Denver’s water use in 2014 dropped to 3.19 billion gallons despite a 10 percent population increase, the lowest recorded amount since 1973, according to the Denver Post. That’s roughly 82 gallons per person per day.

“Just because you add more people doesn’t mean you need more water,” Save the Colorado executive director and cofounder Gary Wockner said.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 21, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.