Moffat Firming & Windy Gap Projects

SURPRISE! We Agree With Denver Water


Science or Politics? July 22, 2014

Mr. Elliott’s letter of July 16 regarding the Moffat Firming Project purports to present a scientist’s point of view, but reads like a politician’s campaign, right down to unsupported accusations of “backroom dealings” and catchy sound bites that completely misrepresent the facts and the views of those who support a solution for the Moffat Firming Project.

Supporters of a solution, including the County, care deeply about developing accurate, scientific information about our rivers and the impacts of Moffat and other issues impacting our rivers. That is why they have invested millions of dollars to develop real information that documents stream conditions today so we can tell whether conditions in the future get better or worse. That is why the have reached an agreement (the Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan or “MECP”) with Denver Water to continue to collect real information and do something to not only prevent deterioration, but to improve current conditions.

Significant amounts of water, money and other resources have been committed to protect and improve stream conditions as part of the MECP. Mr. Elliott omits mention of these benefits so that he can make his point — for a true list of MECP benefits, please go to Mr. Elliott and his Front Range clients can continue to dedicate their resources to politics and to more technical “models” that generate controversy and consultant fees but don’t get us any closer to a solution for the rivers. Those who support a solution will be here protecting and improving our streams long after Mr. Elliott and his clients move on to other projects.

Kirk Klancke


Please be sure to see the Mitigation & Enhancement Plan Summary lower on

this page. It contradicts Mr Elliot's comments.

Call for Action April 28, 2014

In the early 1900’s, long before any environmental regulations were in place, Denver Water  started diverting water from the Fraser River Valley through the Moffat Tunnel to supply water to the Front Range. Presently, they divert over ½ of the flows of the Fraser River and its tributaries. DW is seeking a Federal permit to triple the size of Gross Reservoir so that they can divert an additional 20% of their water rights in the Fraser Valley. 

For the last 8 years, Trout Unlimited has been working hard to make sure that approval of the Gross Reservoir expansion doesn’t happen unless the Fraser River and its tributaries are protected and their degraded condition improved. After years of diligent work, TU, Grand County and Denver Water have reached an agreement on a package of measures designed to improve stream conditions and prevent additional impacts from the Moffat Project. This agreement is called the Grand County Mitigation and Enhancement Plan and is commonly referred to as the MECP. 

Trout Unlimited now believes that, if included as a requirement of the federal permit, the mitigation and enhancements included in the MECP give the Fraser River a better chance for stream health than not having the project go forward. To help TU save the Fraser River, we need everybody who wants to see the Fraser flow  healthy for generations to take a few minutes to write the US Army Corps of Engineers and ask them to make Denver Water’s compliance with the MECP a condition of the federal permit. 

The MECP requires DW to be involved in stream monitoring and adaptive management for as long as they divert. This language is our best chance to maintain healthy rivers in the Fraser Valley. Please be part of the solution and send in a letter now and for the rest of your life you will be able to proudly say that you helped save the Fraser River. Be sure to copy your letter to the list provided so that your elected officials know that you are speaking up and what you’re saying.  

Ready to call, write or send emails? For suggestions on what to say and names and addresses of the right people to contact, go to our What to Do Today page by clicking HERE.

Moffat Firming & Windy Gap Projects

The Moffat and Windy Gap Firming Projects are intended to "firm up" the rights of water owners. As is usually the case with water-related subjects, there is plenty of controversy surrounding the proposals.

The latest TU comments regarding the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for these projects (as of February 7, 2012) are from TU's legal council, Mely Whiting. They make a strong case that not enough is being done to protect the rivers. These documents are a "must read" for everyone concerned about the future of our rivers. For the complete letter to the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of the Interior, click here. The supporting tables are available here.

To see the official Bureau of Reclamation December 1, 2011 FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) on the Windy Gap Firming Project, click here. To read TU's December 5, 2011 comments on why the FEIS doesn't go far enough to protect the Colorado and the Fraser, click here. For a link to Denver Water's information on the Moffat Collection System Project Update, click here.

Below, we've posted some of our thoughts relating to the Moffat Firming Project. We encourage you to be informed about this important issue, analyze the information and make your opinions known to your local, state and national representatives, the Department of Wildlife, EPA, Denver Water and others. Write a comment to your local papers. Write letters to anyone who will listen and express your opinion.


The Problem:

  • Denver Water presently diverts 60% of the Fraser River in the Fraser Valley through a trans-basin diversion. A trans- basin diversion is a 100% consumptive loss to the river.
  • Denver water, through their proposed Moffat Firming Project will divert another 20% of the Fraser River. The 20% additional diversion will be taken from the Spring flushing flows.
  • Flushing flows are essential to remove sediment which can smother the spawning beds and bug life that fish need for their food source. Reduced flows in the Spring will also extend the period of time that the river experiences high temperatures. The flushing flows are also vital to the recharge of the riparian plants. 3% of Colorado is riparian while 90% of the wildlife relies on the riparian zone.
  • Denver Water has written a draft Environmental Impact Statement that recognizes only minor impacts and proposes no mitigation. Through the Wildlife Commission hearings, Denver Water has shown no compromise on their position and clearly intends to divert the flushing flows for perpetuity without addressing the impacts that will result to the river, the riparian zone and the economy in Colorado that relies on a healthy environment attracting people to our State.

The Solution:

  • The future of Colorado’s rivers should rely on science and not the political game that the trans-basin diverters use to avoid addressing the impacts that they are the direct cause of.
  • The large trans-basin diverters should be held by permit requirements to be responsible for a comprehensive stream monitoring program that tracks the changes in stream health.
  • If scientific study finds a decline in stream health conditions, the large trans-basin diverters need to be held accountable for repairing the damages that they have caused to Colorado’s environment. This responsibility needs to be tied to their permit as a permanent responsibility to the river.
  • Potential solutions to declining stream health are:

1.      Stream restoration improvements

2.      Curtailed diversions when stream temperatures are within 1 degree of the States acute and chronic stream temperature standards.

3.      Extended flushing flow periods to satisfy sediment transport needs.

4.      Purchase of additional water in the watershed to be converted to in stream flows to add additional water during low flows.

Windy Gap Final Environmental Impact Statement

On August 1 and 2, the 1041 review process had it's most recent review. For the SkyHi News article on the latest step in the process, click here. To view the entire Bureau of Reclamation document click on Statement.