From Westword (Alan Prendergast):
The city of Denver’s $300 million stormwater diversion project has already generated significant community resistance, from complaints over the sharp hike in stormwater fees needed to finance the plan to protests over the impacts the construction will have on north Denver neighborhoods and the City Park Golf Course to heated debates over who truly benefits from the project.
But as more details of the plan become public, opponents of the Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems are increasingly focusing on a little-discussed aspect of the project: the decision to direct storm runoff to the South Platte River through a heavily polluted Superfund site, a process that some fear could expose the river and nearby neighborhoods to a toxic brew of contaminants from arsenic-laced groundwater and a long-buried landfill.
“This is authentically nuts,” says civil engineer Adrian Brown, who’s raised questions with city engineers about the viability of the storm runoff outfall design. “If this thing fails, it’s just going to deposit the whole landfill into the river.”
Public works officials say the project is safe and will actually improve river quality. They have touted Platte to Park Hill (or “P2PH”) as a necessary fix for long-festering drainage problems in the northeast part of the city — water that flows north and west from Fairmount Cemetery through the Montclair, Park Hill, Cole and Whittier neighborhoods to Elyria, Swansea, Globeville and ultimately the South Platte River. Officials have stressed that some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods will benefit from the improvements, which include a fifteen-block channel along East 39th Avenue, an expanded outfall area at Globeville Landing Park, and a thirty-acre detention “pond” at the golf course, which won’t fill up except in the worst storms.