For three summers, the world’s first public information yurt — a round, soft-sided, hut-like thing on the road to Gross Reservoir — has welcomed the curious inside to learn more about Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion project.
The yurt, located near the reservoir’s caretakers’ offices on Gross Dam Road, was the site of community cookouts at the start of each season. Throughout the summer, staff answered questions about how the expansion would take place and took feedback on concerns — from traffic to noise to tree removal — the community wanted addressed.
This summer, as the effects of a global pandemic continue to ripple, the yurt is closed. Denver Water has halted in-person meetings and events wherever possible to help keep its employees and the community safe.
So the expansion team — like many — has turned to virtual engagement.
“This is a big project, and people have questions about it and how it fits into Denver Water’s plans for the future,” said Melissa Brasfield, Denver Water’s community relations coordinator for the project.
“And it’s good to still be able to talk to people and connect with them — in the community or elsewhere. We had three meetings the first week.”
The expansion project, in planning stages since 2003, involves raising the height of the existing Gross Reservoir dam in Boulder County by 131 feet, which will increase the capacity of the reservoir by 77,000 acre-feet.
An expanded Gross Reservoir is critical to Denver Water’s multi-pronged approach — including efficient water use, reuse and responsibly sourcing new storage — to improve system balance and resiliency while contributing to water security for the more than 1.5 million people in the Denver metro area.
The expansion team has held meetings with the community and others over the years, refining the project plans to incorporate feedback from the community.
Sign-ups are available on the project’s website, grossreservoir.org/contact.