The city of Denver wants to build a bigger dam in southern Boulder County, nearly tripling the size of its reservoir.
And environmentalists have something to say about it: They want to know if Denver would mind making that dam even a little bit bigger.
It’s an odd request from a group like Trout Unlimited, which has partnered with the cities of Boulder and Lafayette to try and negotiate the bigger dam, but it actually represents a calculated effort to make the best out of a bad situation.
Denver — thirstier now than ever – is trying to push through a plan to expand Gross Reservoir by 72,000 acre feet, which would require making the current dam 125 feet taller. The water to fill the new reservoir would be pumped from the other side of the continental divide, sucking more water out of the tributaries that feed the now-not-so-mighty Colorado River.
The Colorado office of Trout Unlimited, based in Boulder, thinks this is a terrible idea, but they’ve come to accept the reality — there may be no stopping the project. But there may still be an opportunity for a small victory to be had in the Gross Reservoir expansion.
Environmentalists are asking Denver to consider adding an extra 5,000 acre feet of water to the reservoir, creating a bank of water that could be used to guarantee that South Boulder Creek, which flows from the dam at Gross Reservoir through the stunning cliffs in Eldorado Canyon State Park.
Most winters, South Boulder Creek completely dries up as Denver draws down the water in the reservoir, causing devastating fish kills and compromising the stream’s ecological integrity.