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With a fifteen-minute drive back up on baseline up into the foothills, the impact of the footprint of human structures is no mere more than typical residents, the road, or trails for hiking. Passing by Gross Reservoir, it seems to be a mountain oasis encompassed by pine trees, beautiful flora, and vocal wildlife. Recently, in 2020, peering off to the left on top of the trailhead, there is a discord of heavy construction interrupting the peace with the natural sounds of the Reservoir. The impact on the natural environment is detrimental in overruling the opinion of the county versus a large company that is allowing the sanctity of a delicate ecosystem to be flushed away.

Let us start with who is all behind the project.  Denver Water – one of the landmark utility companies, received its final permits in July 2017 to raise the Reservoir 131 feet to supply approximately 25 billion gallons of water storage into Gross Reservoir. Built-in 1954, the reservoir is a part of Denver Water’s extensive assemblage system in providing a fourth of the water to around a fourth of the population of Colorado. The expansion has been in the works for more than a decade, starting in 2002. The plan intends to increase water demand on the Front Range and supply the right amount as population increases over time and to fender customers from future issues of obtainment of water due to climate change. Apart from increased flow to Boulder Creek regardless of how low it is, very few residents would receive water from this project.

However, the drawbacks form this project can causes changes to downstream patterns of flow of the ecosystem, displacement of residents, and has impacts on fish migration and microclimates in the broader ecosystem. The expansion is the largest to ever exist in Boulder County and would destroy around 500,000 trees of the local flora in just raising the water. The ecological footprint of the Gross Reservoir expansion would be substantial.

A former engineer for Denver Water and local Boulder resident Dan Johnson notes that ecological impact would be lowered by merely moving the construction site, and added that the company has plans to alleviate the local effects on residents by the parking-off site in the parking lot by the trailhead for instance. He states that “The problem is that nature didn’t put water where people want to live.”

Especially with the company’s disregard for the county alone, for long-term gain for the other resident along the Front Range, the location of the build is deepening the ecological footprint in a place that cares about it. According to Smart Water, a Western Resource Advocates study of municipal water use of the daily average per-person in single-family households in 2001 ranked Boulder with 140 gallons/day. With that high of a usage, Boulder County has made significant improvements since the start of the decade. Municipalities in Boulder now use “72 gallons per capita in 2018,” regards from Cindy Sutter. The overall use of water from Denver Water customers continues to decrease beyond the population of Boulder County regarding conservation.

So, if water usage is falling, should not there be a conversation about the expansion of the Gross Reservoir inevitably? The numbers are there, showing that more and more of the population is conserving their water in mind with their ecological footprint, especially in Boulder County. On top of that, the expansion of the Gross Reservoir would not aid any of the citizens but forcefully change the delicate ecosystem that so many residents take their dogs for a walk on the weekends. The view would be gone, everything sunk into water with an additional 131 foot of concrete destroying the picture. Let us hope we can enjoy it longer than we expect.

I believe that with the decrease of water use as well, it is determining the county and the vocation that it sets out for in minimizing the environmental impact on its surroundings. Hence, having a company continue to overlook the changes in demographics of their customers as well and maintaining to blindly skimpier around making a profit off a county that is not even regarding it is detrimentally immoral. Huge companies like Denver Water seek the pros of the long-term for the rest of their customers and not the permanent changes that they will make in regards to the ecosystem and residents who chose to live in the beauty on the back of Chautauqua.