FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AT TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 1996 (202) 616-2771 TDD (202) 514-1888 JUDGE SIDES WITH U.S. IN CONTROVERSIAL DENVER DAM PROJECT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Reaffirming the Environmental Protection Agency's and the Justice Department's ability to enforce the Clean Water Act, a federal judge has upheld an EPA decision blocking a controversial dam project at the Two Forks site near Denver, Colorado. Several metro area water districts sought to have EPA's decision overruled so the proposed dam could be built. The June 5 opinion upholds EPA's determination that the South Platte River Corridor is a unique and irreplaceable resource and that other alternatives to the Two Forks dam exist for future water distribution that would be far less damaging to the environment. The dam would have flooded more than 30 miles of free-flowing river, including some of the best trout fisheries in the country. Under the Clean Water Act, the construction of a dam on a navigable river such as the South Platte River, requires a permit. In November of 1990, after a 14 month review, the EPA rejected the Two Forks dam proposals. EPA concluded that each of the Two Forks dam proposals would significantly damage fishery and recreational areas, and that this loss was avoidable because there were less environmentally damaging alternatives to Two Forks. EPA also found that even if no feasible alternative were to be found, the resources that would be lost as a result of a dam at Two Forks were too valuable to compromise. "The court's ruling in this case preserves the great natural resources of the South Platte River as well as the federal government's ability to protect our nation's waterways for years to come," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. (MORE) The site of the proposed Two Forks dam is approximately one mile downstream from the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte River and the mainstream of the South Platte in one of the most highly prized and used trout fisheries in the nation. The proposed Two Forks dam would have stood 615 feet high and spanned some 1700 feet. It would have required approximately 1,330,000 cubic yards of concrete to construct. The reservoir created by the dam would have had a surface area of 7,300 acres, or 11.4 square miles, and flooded approximately 30.1 miles of the river. In addition, the dam would have affected whooping crane habitat hundreds of miles away in the plains of Nebraska where the South Platte River drains, and posed a peril to endangered and threatened species both on and off site. ### 96-271 Reporters may obtain a copy of the opinion through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs at (202) 514-2008.