Denver Moves Forward with Historic Agreement on Waterway Restoration

Published on April 24, 2023

An aerial of the South Platte River adjacent to Sun Valley Homes.

DENVER – Today, Denver City Council approved a historic intergovernmental agreement between the City and County of Denver and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) that will guide massive investments in the health of the South Platte River and two of its tributaries through the Waterway Resiliency Program.

The agreement outlines how the entities will partner to restore ecosystems and natural habitats along a 6.5-mile stretch of the South Platte River from 6th Avenue to 58th Avenue and reduce flood risks along Weir and Harvard Gulches. The partnership agreement establishes project outputs, cost share splits, funding reimbursement requirements and designates the City as the lead in project delivery. The agreement will be inked by Mayor Michael B. Hancock and USACE representatives in a formal signing ceremony in Denver on May 8.

“This agreement solidifies the course we’ll take moving forward, in partnership with the federal government, to improve our local waterways,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. ”It will be a historic investment in the South Platte River and its tributaries touching five different council districts and, as project lead, Denver can ensure robust community engagement in areas where banks are being restored.”

The Waterway Resiliency Program will deliver Denver's One Water Vision for the South Platte River, Weir Gulch, and Harvard Gulch by restoring habitats, providing flood protection, and creating more inviting spaces for plants, animals, and people.  The program will directly benefit some of Denver’s most vulnerable and under-resourced neighborhoods with trails, access points and park-based recreation features for enhanced mobility and equity.

The project was authorized for construction under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Section 401(4) of the 2020 Water Resource Development Act at a cost of $550 million. The USACE announced last April that $350 million in federal funding has been appropriated to the program. Following the official signing of the agreement next month, the project team will work to further define program cost estimates, funding sources and implementation plans.