Colorado's Prairie Waters Project Flows in Just Five Years
During 2002 and 2003, the City of Aurora, Colorado – the state’s 3rd largest municipality with nearly 325,000 people – was months away from severe water rationing due to a historic regional drought. While stretching the water supply to meet demand had always been a challenge for this rapidly-growing city, another drought year would be disastrous. Something needed to be done – fast.
Though large-scale water supply and purification projects in the West typically take decades to plan, permit and construct, Aurora and its citizens did not have that luxury of time. Brownstein counseled Aurora Water in structuring its proposed Prairie Waters Project to expedite its completion.
Brownstein lawyers teamed with project engineers to streamline the federal, state and local permitting processes by proposing the use of tunnels under possible environmentally sensitive areas, replacing traditional river diversion.
The Water team worked overtime achieving an almost unprecedented approval of a Water Court Decree in less than three years.
The team also successfully concluded numerous complex water rights and land use transactions enabling the project to move forward. In an interesting legal twist for a water project, an intellectual property issue arose when a water technology company claimed patent infringement on a design element of the natural purification component of the Project. Brownstein's IP litigation practice got involved and settled the matter before trial, allowing use of the disputed element in the Project.
In the end, the Project was able to go from concept to completion in five years, thanks in part to Brownstein’s considerable efforts across many practice areas.
The Prairie Waters project celebrated the official grand opening in October 2010, two months ahead of schedule and $150 million under budget. The state-of-the-art Prairie Waters supply and purification project will have the capability of supplying up to 50,000 acre feet of water a year. Visit www.prairiewaters.org for more information on the project.
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