In early January 2018, more than 2,000 neighbors located in and around Coal Creek Canyon were mailed a survey created by Corona Insights, a third-party research company. If you received a survey and took time to fill it out – THANK YOU!
The goal of the survey was to gather scientifically valid and statistically significant input from the community on various topics and issues related to the project. We will use the survey data to make adjustments to many elements of the project; knowing firsthand the concerns and priorities of the community will enable us to minimize project impacts and minimize inconvenience to our neighbors. Corona Insights received more than 550 completed surveys from this research effort and are nearing the end of their analysis and reporting.
Key early findings confirm the sentiments we typically hear when we’re interacting one-on-one with the members of the Coal Creek Canyon community:
Key Finding: There are significant concerns about construction impacts and specifically how transport of materials using haul trucks will impact safety, increase commute times, etc.
How we’ll use the feedback: Safety is our number one priority, and that guides all our planning efforts. Our transportation plan will conform to all industry best management practices and will receive all necessary approvals from oversight agencies.
Based on prior public input, we’re committed to not hauling while school children are being bused and will not haul during typical morning/evening commute windows. Haul trucks and operators will be properly licensed by the state and all drivers will pass a project-specific safe driving course prior to hauling their first load. The latest technology will be used to monitor truck speeds and dash video cameras will be mandatory to record driver behavior and professionalism.
The survey asked a couple questions about general hauling preferences – would respondents prefer a greater number of trucks per day over fewer days or fewer trucks per day over a greater number of days? Is there a time of day respondents would prefer we do the hauling?
- Fully 50 percent of respondents preferred a 3-day haul week to options that featured additional haul days.
- 54 percent supported midday hauling times.
- The option of night hauling was almost evenly split – 47 percent supported and 46 percent opposed the concept.
Denver Water will explore these options in greater detail.
The information gathered is very valuable as we design a plan that will ensure safety and minimize public inconvenience. We will continue sharing details of the plan and continue taking public input as it takes shape.
Key Finding: The top two project-specific concerns were environmental in nature – these included depletions to watersheds and impacts of tree removal.
How we’ll use the feedback:
We, too, are concerned about keeping all watersheds healthy, which is why we have committed to more than $20 million in environmental protections and enhancements. We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, when referencing the environmental protections we’ve committed to, concluded that the project will, “…not result in significant degradation of the Williams Fork and Fraser River watersheds.” Our commitments impressed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment such that they found the project will have a “net environmental benefit” for our state.
It’s also important to note that we’ve committed to taking additional water from the western slope only in normal or wet years. In dry years, we will not take additional water. Look here for more information about partnerships we’ve built on the western slope that are already having positive environmental impacts to watershed health.
Tree Removal Impacts
It’s true that organic matter left to decompose beneath the new high water mark will degrade water quality, so we plan to clear trees from that zone during later stages of construction expected in 2024. Understanding the community’s concerns about this, we’ve committed to working with local experts from the United States Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Boulder County, and others, to design a tree removal plan that ensures safety, uses current industry best management practices and minimizes public inconvenience. We’re also investigating using newer technologies and methods that were not conceived when the initial draft plan was developed – these new technologies and methods will ensure Denver Water is doing what it can to minimize the impacts to residents.
We will continue sharing details of the plan as they come into greater focus and will continue taking public input.
Key Finding: Perceptions of the project are largely negative among its closest neighbors.
How we’ll use the feedback: It’s a hard point to argue. Reservoir neighbors will experience disruptions and – being outside Denver Water’s service area – will not receive direct benefits from the project. What we can and will do is continue listening, continue finding ways to perform our work in a manner that will minimize inconvenience, and continue seeking ways to build relationships and trust in the community.