Waterway Resiliency (WATR) Program (Ongoing)
Partnerships get big results. Together with our partners at the City and County of Denver (Denver), Adams County, Mile High Flood District, Colorado Water and Conservation Board, and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), we are making significant progress in our longstanding efforts to bring additional environmental and flood protection for the South Platte River and its tributaries. Several recently completed major milestones include:
- Completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in 2019 and the USACE Chief’s Report and Record of Decision that followed.
- Authorization of the South Platte River and Tributaries Project (Project) in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) signed on December 27, 2020. The Project has been authorized as a dual flood risk management and ecosystem restoration project at a total estimated cost of $550-700M, including the federal share of approximately $350M and the non-federal local share to cover the remainder.
- Allocation of $350M in federal funding to the Project through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed in March of 2022.
- This project was renamed the Water Resiliency (WATR) Program in mid-2023.
This project will deliver ambitious ecosystem restoration and flood risk mitigation goals along the South Platte River, Weir Gulch, and Harvard Gulch:
- Ecosystem restoration along the South Platte River
- Restore approximately 160 acres of critical riparian corridor and wetland habitat
- Restore nearly 100 acres of aquatic habitat
- Connect an additional 190 acres of existing habitat back to the corridor
- Flood risk mitigation along the South Platte River:
- Remove the floodplain designation for approximately 100 structures
- Flood risk mitigation along Weir Gulch:
- Implement channel and culvert widening to reduce flood risk and improve safety
- Remove the floodplain designation for more than 300 structures
- Improve aquatic and riparian habitat, where feasible
- Flood risk mitigiation along Harvard Gulch:
- Improvements on adjacent properties through a voluntary program
- Reduce flood risk for more than 150 residential and commercial structures
Partnerships will continue to be imperative as we leverage federal funding to deliver the project. Here is what we are doing next:
- For the remainder of 2022, Denver and its partners will be developing a delivery program for the Project, , which will include furthering formal agreements with the USACE and establishing implementation plans that identify the most effective means and methods for delivery to ensure projects are completed as efficiently as possible.
- In 2023, Denver will begin design for the South Platte River and additional reaches of Weir Gulch
- Through the coming years, TGF and partners will continue to identify local funding sources that will count towards the local funding match that is needed for the Project.
In addition to working in partnership to deliver the Project, we continue to support delivery of USACE Southern Platte Valley Ecosystem Restoration Section 1135 Project (“Project 1135”):
- USACE 1135 Project is a second project partnership with the USACE, Denver, and partners also focused on Ecosystem Restoration. This is a critical step in realizing ecosystem restoration connecting and enhancing previous River Vision Implementation Plan (RVIP) projects including Grant Frontier Park, Pasquinel’s Landing, among others. The project will address approximately 2.5 miles along the South Platte River between West Yale Avenue downstream to West Mississippi Avenue with an estimated total cost of $12,397,000, which was also federally funded as part of the 2022 IIJA. Project construction is anticipated in Fall 2023.