Denver has not managed to push through a project on this scale since construction of Dillon Reservoir in 1963. The Environmental Protection Agency's 1990 veto of Denver's proposed $1 billion Two Forks Dam still looms in water-authority boardrooms. That project, backed by developers and opposed by environmentalists, also was aimed at preventing shortages.
The $225 million cost is already covered by a recently approved rate hike for Denver Water customers, which will raise typical water bills by about $40 a year.
Denver already owns rights to the water it would divert from the upper Colorado River basin — from the Blue River in Summit County and from the Fraser and Williams Fork rivers and dozens of streams in Grand County.
But Trout Unlimited sportsmen's advocates said that stream flows there already are dangerously low, threatening aquatic life, with algae increasing and once-clear Grand Lake turning cloudy. Boulder-area residents warned of harm to wildlife and lifestyle disruptions during construction to raise the dam and clear trees in expanding Gross Reservoir.