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South Platte Ecosystem Restoration Project, Denver CO

Project Name: Southern Platte Valley, Denver, CO Ecosystem Restoration Study
Location: Denver, Colorado
Authority: Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-662)
Sponsors: City & County of Denver
Current Phase: Feasibility

The city and county of Denver (non-federal sponsor) is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Omaha District) on a study to evaluate possible ecosystem restoration solutions to the degraded South Platte River habitat systems in Denver, Colorado.

The Southern Platte Valley Project is located in the City and County of Denver, Colorado in the north-central portion of the state. The proposed project area includes approximately 2.4 miles of the South Platte River from West Yale Avenue downstream (north) to West Mississippi Avenue. This portion of the South Platte River is located downstream from two existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ multi-purpose flood control dams and reservoirs (Bear Creek and Chatfield).

The urbanization of the City and County of Denver over the past 150 years has resulted in infrastructure and development encroaching into historic stream and floodplain habitats along the South Platte River and its tributaries. In addition, the construction of the Corps’ Chatfield and Bear Creek Dams, upstream from the project reach, have altered the natural flows by greatly reducing flood flows and increasing late summer and fall base flows. In the Southern Platte Valley project reach, the combined effect of these changes has negatively impacted the South Platte River’s natural flows and native aquatic and riparian habitat systems. 

The purpose of the Southern Platte Valley feasibility study is to improve the quality and quantity of wetland and riparian habitats, create habitat connectivity and incorporate in-channel aquatics along South Platte River in Denver, Colorado without reconfiguring existing infrastructure and without adversely impacting the existing floodplain. 

Project Update: The Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment was approved by Northwestern Division on September 26, 2018.  The Omaha District has received initial funding to begin the Project's Design and Implementation Phase, which starts with the signature of a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) between the Corps of Engineers and the Non-Federal Sponsor, the City and County of Denver. It is expected that the PPA will be signed by both parties in 2019, and the project design will start soon after.