Denver Signs Historic Agreement on Waterway Restoration
Published on May 08, 2023
DENVER – Today, representatives from the City and County of Denver and Adams County, the State of Colorado, and U.S. government gathered to celebrate and sign a historic intergovernmental agreement that will result in a multi-million-dollar investment in flood risk management, ecosystem restoration and recreation on Denver area waterways - specifically, the South Platte River and two of its tributaries.
The Waterway Resiliency Program will restore a 6.5-mile stretch of the South Platte River from 6th Avenue to 58th Avenue in Denver and Adam Counties, creating more inviting spaces for plants, animals and people, and reducing flood risks along Weir and Harvard Gulches. Today Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), formally signed a partnership agreement that establishes project outputs, cost share splits, funding reimbursement requirements and designates the City and County of Denver as the lead in project delivery.
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.
“This program is an extraordinary opportunity to restore and conserve our waterways so that residents for generations from now will continue to reap its benefits,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “This historic infrastructure investment will uplift lives, communities and futures across our city.”
This innovative project delivery method, currently one of four pilots in the country, accelerates delivery through performance-based contracts, leveraged appropriations, and optimized local participation that promotes risk sharing and significant project life-cycle cost savings.
“This project presents a unique opportunity for the Omaha District Corps of Engineers to partner with an extremely dedicated sponsor to restore a highly degraded river that would provide a significant boost in nationally significant habitat and habitat connectivity,” said Col. Mark Himes, USACE Omaha District commander. “It will also provide flood risk reduction to hundreds of structures within both the Harvard and Weir Gulch Communities.”
In addition to restoring habitats and providing flood protection, touching five council districts in Denver, the program will directly benefit some of the city’s most vulnerable and under-resourced neighborhoods with trails, access points and park-based recreation features for enhanced mobility and equity.
“Ultimately this project is about community and safety. Once upon a time our community experienced the damage that a poorly managed and maintained river system can do,“ said Denver Council President Jamie Torres. “We must promise current and future generations that the South Platte River is an integral and celebrated part of Denver and of our neighborhoods.”
Following the signing of the partnership agreement today, the project team will work to further define program cost estimates, funding sources and implementation plans. Project updates will be provided at www.denvergov.org/waterwayresiliency.
For more information on USACE’s Public-Private Partnership program, visit: https://www.usace.army.mil/missions/civil-works/infrastructure/infra_P3_program/