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Judge dismisses environmentalists’ Gross Reservoir lawsuit

BOULDER, Colo. — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in 2018 by a coalition of environmental advocacy groups challenging a permit for the expansion of Gross Reservoir in western Boulder County.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver claims the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to fully consider the environmental impacts before authorizing the project, The Daily Camera reported. The corps issued a permit in 2017, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also approved of the project in 2020.

The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project, which is being pursued by Denver Water, would be the largest construction project in the history of Boulder County if it gets final approval.

The federal judge this week determined the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case because the Federal Power Act gives a federal court of appeals exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing decision.

Gary Wockner, director of Save the Colorado and the lead plaintiff in the suit, and Beverly Kurtz, a resident of the area and president of The Environmental Group, said they will meet with their lawyers to decide whether to appeal.

Denver Water spokesman Todd Hartman called the court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit “an important step.”

The utility still needs Boulder County to review and rule on the proposal, which would raise the existing 340-foot (104-meter) Gross Dam by an additional 131 feet (40 meters), increasing reservoir capacity by 77,000 acre-feet.

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