$350 million investment completes the restoration of Denver’s river ecosystem, bringing equitable economic revitalization

On March 30, 2022, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet from Colorado—along with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock—announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had awarded $350 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Adams and Denver Counties for flood risk resilience and aquatic ecosystem restoration projects along the South Platte River.

This critical project is expected to:

  • Drive equitable economic revitalization through the creation of 7300 good-paying local jobs over the lifetime of the project;
  • Support our neighborhoods not just through reducing flood risk in vulnerable communities, but also through the creation of new green spaces and recreation amenities; and
  • Take climate action and repair environmental justice through the conservation of this treasured outdoor space, reduce the temperatures of the water and mitigate heat islands in some of the most underserved neighborhoods.

The funding will allow the project to be completed in its entirety.

This funding will revitalize the South Platte River. By helping to prevent flooding and restore critical ecosystems, the surrounding communities and wildlife can enjoy the area for decades to come,” said Hickenlooper, who helped write the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

The South Platte River is an important ecosystem for wildlife, a hub for recreation, and a key aspect of the area’s water supply and quality.

The project will restore nearly 450 acres of aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitats along 6.5 miles of the South Platte River, preserving and restoring ecosystems for wildlife.

I’m delighted to welcome funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill for the South Platte River and surrounding communities after years of urging Washington to support this project,” said Bennet.

For decades, the neighborhoods bordering the South Platte River have experienced environmental hardship. This project is an important part of Denver’s efforts to protect communities and businesses from flooding, build resilient infrastructure, and help ensure that anyone who wants to live and work in Denver is able to,” he added.

The project will provide greater stability for hundreds of homes and families in some of Denver’s historically underserved neighborhoods, such as Sun Valley, by essentially removing them from the floodplain.

That, in turn, eliminates the requirement for costly flood insurance for homeowners and dramatically reduces the risk of loss for communities, and vastly improves the river ecosystem.

The restoration and conservation of the South Platte River ecosystem is a phenomenal opportunity, it pulls hundreds of families in our most vulnerable neighborhoods out of a floodplain, and I want to thank the Corps, the White House, Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet, and Congresswoman DeGette for making this commitment to our community and to this critical project,” said Hancock.

Infrastructure investments like this do more than just improve our waterways, they build lives, they build communities and they build futures,” he continued.

Hickenlooper and Bennet sent a letter in December 2021 asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the South Platte River and Tributaries project for funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. In March, Bennet, Hickenlooper and Representative Diana DeGette again urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Office of Management and Budget to fund the South Platte River Project. Hickenlooper and Bennet also recently secured $400,000 to complete the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design portion of the project in the fiscal year 2022 federal appropriations bill.

Bennet previously secured dual authorization for both ecosystem restoration and flood risk management in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 to benefit 9 miles of the 11.1 miles of the South Platte River in the City & County of Denver. In 2018 and 2019, Bennet requested funding for this project through annual spending legislation.

In December 2021, at Confluence Park, Mayor Hancock along with other elected officials, the Greenway Foundation, the US Army Corps, non-profits, and environmental groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding to amplify the benefits of the project and demonstrate our resolve and collective commitment to move the project forward.

Rendering courtesy of Wenk Associates.

See Wenk Associates website.

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