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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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Posted: 3/28/2012

Expiration date: 4/27/2012


Comment Period:
March 28, 2012 – April 27, 2012

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to reconstruct and enlarge LEDE Reservoir, which would result in permanent and temporary impacts to 15.81 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Gypsum Creek. The nature and extent of impacts are more specifically described below. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.

AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

APPLICANT: Town of Gypsum, Attn: Jim Hancock, Town Engineer, P.O. Box 130, Gypsum, Colorado 81637
Phone: 970-524-1728. Email:

LOCATION: LEDE Reservoir is located about 18.5 road miles southeast of Gypsum, within the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest, in the NW1/4 of Section 9, Township 7 South, Range 84 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Latitude 39.465858°, Longitude -106.778400°, Eagle County, Colorado, and can be seen on the CO-RED CREEK USGS Topographic Quadrangle. See Figure A for the project location map.

PROJECT NEED AND PURPOSE: The applicant’s stated project need is to reconstruct and enlarge LEDE Reservoir to meet State dam safety standards and to provide an additional 516 acre-feet (AF) of stored water supply to meet the Town of Gypsum’s projected water demands through the year 2060 for municipal, agricultural, industrial and other associated needs. Gypsum’s current annual firm yield demand is approximately 2,000 AF; estimated annual firm yield demand by 2060 is approximately 5,000 AF. Increasing LEDE Reservoir storage would provide a total of 947 AF of the expected future demand.

Based on available information, the Corps has determined the basic project purpose is water supply. The overall purpose of the proposed project is to provide the Town of Gypsum with a supply of an additional 516 AF of firm annual yield water for use in its service area.

Note that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is the lead federal agency responsible for reviewing the project pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act because the proposal is located entirely on National Forest System lands administered by the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest. To date, the USFS has not published a Draft Environmental Assessment and the Corps is not aware of the future date of publication. The USFS scoping letter states that the project purpose is to meet current Colorado State Engineer's Office and Forest Service safety standards for LEDE Reservoir dam, and to enlarge the reservoir to match physical storage capability with the legal storage rights held by the Town of Gypsum.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to modify the existing LEDE Reservoir dam and associated infrastructure to meet State dam safety standards and to increase the Reservoir storage capacity from 24.8 surface acres and 431 AF storage capacity to 32.2 surface acres and 947 AF storage capacity. The existing dam, spillway, intake and outlet works would be reconstructed. The existing LEDE dam would be raised by approximately 19 feet, the crest widened to 22 feet, and the dam spillway reconstructed on the west side of the dam for safety, logistical and hydrological concerns. A cross-section of the proposed dam is at Figure B-6.

A wetland delineation was conducted by a consultant for the USFS, and the wetland delineation report was submitted to the Corps in December 2011. The Corps will field verify the wetland delineation and acreages as early as possible during the 2012 growing season. The area of jurisdictional waters of the United States, including wetlands, and the amount of project impacts to waters of the U.S., may change based on the results of the Corps verification of the wetland delineation. The delineated wetlands are shown in Figure B, and described below in more detail under “Environmental Setting”.

A total of approximately 113,000 cubic yards (CY ) of on-site native soil materials will be used for the dam enlargement, about 38,000 CY of which will be excavated from a 2.88-acre proposed deadpool area below the ordinary high water mark of the Reservoir. In addition, about 75,000 CY of material for the dam will be obtained from a 3.75-acre upland borrow area on USFS land that was identified during geotechnical investigations (Figure D). An additional 50,000 CY will be excavated around the site, also below the ordinary high water mark (Figure D, areas d and k). This excavated borrow material will be used for lining material and thus replaced in various areas below the high water line as needed. Approximately 35,000 CY of the excavated Reservoir bottom material is expected to be unusable for any new construction and will be stockpiled during construction and then replaced in the Reservoir bottom to approximately match existing surface slopes where possible.

Construction of the new dam and infrastructure will result in the discharge of approximately 104,500 CY of on-site soil material below the ordinary high water mark of the Reservoir into about 5.57 acres of the current open water area. This will be for the dam itself and a liner installed along the western side of the Reservoir to address seepage issues. In addition to open waters impacts, the new dam footprint will permanently impact approximately 0.015 acres of slope wetlands on the northeast side of the Reservoir. Below the dam, the new outlet works and dam slope will permanently impact about 80 linear feet of Gypsum Creek and about 0.02 acre of adjacent riparian wetlands, which includes the open waters within the stream channel.

The maximum surface water area of the Reservoir would increase from 24.8 acres to 32.2 acres. The enlargement will seasonally inundate existing waters of the U.S. around the Reservoir perimeter as follows:

Slope Scrub-Shrub Wetland on NE corner of Reservoir  1.275 acres
 Riparian Wetland along south inlet channel  0.43 acres (176 linear feet)
 Fringe Wetland around Reservoir perimeter  0.21 acres
 Total Acres of Wetland Inundation  Approximately 1.915 acres

Temporary construction impacts for equipment access would affect an additional 85 linear feet of Gypsum Creek channel below the new outlet works and about 0.02 acre of riparian wetlands along the channel. Impacts to this area would be minimized by installing geotech fabric so that temporary fill can be completely removed and original grades restored once construction is complete. Proposed access roads and stockpile and staging areas for soils, materials, and equipment are shown in Figure D.

All proposed temporary and permanent impacts to waters of the U.S., including wetlands, are depicted in Figures B and D, itemized in Table 1, and summarized as follows:

 Sites a, c Permanent Fill   0.035 acre
 Site b  Temporary Fill  0.02 acre
 Sites g, h, i  Seasonal Inundation  1.915 acres
   Total Wetland Impacts  1.97 acres
 Other Waters of the U.S    
 Sites d, k  Excavation within existing Reservoir  5.57 acres
 Sites e, j  Permanent Fill within existing Reservoir  5.57 acres
 Site f  Temporary Fill within existing Reservoir  2.70 acres
   Total Impacts to Waters of U.S. (Reservoir open water areas)  13.84 acres
   Total Permanent and Temporary Impacts to all Waters of U.S.  15.81 acres


The applicant states that no significant change in operational hydrology or Reservoir management is expected, except that the additional storage would make possible late summer/early fall releases to benefit in-stream flows. In addition, the existing operating plan for the Reservoir would be modified to utilize storage below the elevation of the intake structure and establish a minimum deadpool for fisheries. The deadpool is anticipated to be 2.9 surface acres and hold 23.5 AF of water.

The applicant expects that proposed flow alterations in Gypsum Creek, downstream of the Reservoir dam, would improve the existing minimum in-stream flow rights in Gypsum Creek. Downstream of the dam, flow reductions would normally take place when Gypsum Creek is running at bank-full level, and flow increases/releases would normally take place when flow is minimal. Based on information provided by the applicant, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s decreed minimum in-stream flows on Gypsum Creek are 5 cfs (from LEDE Reservoir to the confluence of Gypsum Creek and Red Creek), and 6 cfs (from the confluence of Gypsum Creek and Red Creek to the confluence of Gypsum Creek and the Eagle River).

The applicant states that the storage and release of water in the Reservoir can be scheduled to maximize benefits to both the Town and Gypsum Creek. Water can be released during drier times during the late irrigation season, non-irrigation season and possibly during winter, subject to freezing issues. Generally, however, it is expected that the majority of releases to benefit minimum stream flows and the Town of Gypsum would occur during late summer and early fall months.

Construction of the project is proposed to begin on July 1, 2012 and end by October 31, 2013.


Background and History. The existing LEDE Dam is a homogenous earth embankment with a rock toe drain. According to records of the Colorado Office of the State Engineer and construction drawings, the dam was originally constructed to a height of about 15 feet in the 1930s, and raised to the present crest height of 44 feet in the early 1940s. The dam is presently classified as a “small”, “high hazard” dam.

The Town of Gypsum purchased the LEDE Reservoir and LEDE Ditch water rights in 2005. The Reservoir and Ditch currently operate under Forest Service Special Use Permit No. EAG152, which is in effect through December 31, 2036. The Town of Gypsum has submitted a proposal to the USFS Eagle Ranger District of the White River National Forest for a special use permit to enlarge and operate LEDE Reservoir. The USFS, as lead federal agency, is evaluating the proposal and preparing an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

Based on information from the applicant, LEDE Reservoir has stored 300-400 AF from Gypsum Creek and Antones Cabin Creek (via the LEDE ditch) largely in June during spring runoff when both creeks are already at bank-full flow. The Reservoir water has been stored and then released or has seeped out of the Reservoir and has been used for irrigation in the lower valleys during the late irrigation season from July to October. The applicant states that the Reservoir enlargement would provide the possibility that water could be carried over from wet years to dry years, thus supporting minimum in-stream flows. At the inlet to LEDE Reservoir, the in-basin water varies from the spring peak at 3.5 CFS to a late season flow of 0.1 CFS or 0.2 CFS. This small base flow normally does not reach the Reservoir outlet due to seepage caused by porous geology in this reach.

LEDE Reservoir is located within the popular Eagle River valley and is accessed for recreation. There is a former Forest Service fee-campground at the site, though it has been disbanded and is now considered a dispersed camping area. Local residents in particular utilize the Reservoir and dispersed camping area. The applicant states that part of the Reservoir enlargement planning is to enhance fishery habitat and fish populations in the Reservoir, and to use water releases to meet minimum in-stream flow conditions on Gypsum Creek.

Environmental Setting. The project area sits between 9,480 and 9,650 feet in elevation, on USFS lands managed by the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest. Based on the preliminary wetland delineation, the project area contains about 2.29 acres of shrub-dominated slope wetlands, 1.03 acres of riparian wetlands, and 0.21 acre of fringe wetlands dominated by grasses and sedges. The wetland delineation will be verified by the Corps during the 2012 growing season, and is therefore subject to change. The wetland delineation consultant found that soils in the 0.21 acre fringe wetland on the south end of the Reservoir meet the definition of a histic epipedon but do not meet the definition of a histosol. According to this data, there are no fens in the project area. This information is being evaluated and will be field-verified by the Corps.

Vegetation on the east side of the Reservoir is primarily composed of grasses, sedges, and forbs with a few shrub species. Vegetation in the northeast inlet area is primarily composed of willows and bog birch mixed with sedges. The south end is comprised of mixed grasses and forbs with sparse willows and an overstory of spruce/fir in portions of the riparian along the inlet channel. Very little vegetation occurs on the west side of the Reservoir where the normal Reservoir high water line meets spruce/fir forest along steep, rocky slopes. The north end consists of rock rip-rap along the dam, with a grass/forb and mixed-shrub community below the dam along Gypsum Creek. For about one mile below the Reservoir dam, Gypsum Creek alternates between grass/forb and willow communities and spruce-aspen stands, after which it largely becomes a willow/beaver-dam complex. The surrounding uplands are comprised of mixed grass-shrub communities that give way to aspen forest on the east and south ends, and spruce/fir forest with grassy meadows on the west side.

Alternatives. The applicant has provided a project needs and alternatives analysis, which is available upon request. In summary, the applicant’s needs analysis includes a discussion of demographics, dam safety, long term storage, recreation enhancement, water rights protection, water supply planning, population growth, need for additional water supply, availability of unappropriated water, and expected public benefits. The applicant’s alternatives analysis includes a brief discussion of several off-site alternatives: 1) groundwater development; 2) purchase from or expansion of existing reservoirs; 3) purchase of water from other municipalities; 4) storage tanks; and 5) water conservation. The applicant did not further evaluate off-site alternatives for reasons related to their environmental impacts, technical feasibility and inability to effectively meet the purpose and need for the proposed project. The submitted alternatives analysis also includes more detailed analyses of on-site alternatives, including: 1) no action; 2) repair dam to existing storage capacity; 3) repair dam and enlarge to 685 AF storage; 4) applicant’s proposed alternative; and 5) repair dam and enlarge to 1040 AF storage. Additional information concerning project needs and alternatives may also be available from the applicant. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.

Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. The applicant states that wetland impacts have been avoided and minimized to the extent possible by designing the bulk of the dam enlargement to occur on the upstream dam face where fill will occur in uplands or non-wetlands classified as Waters of the United States. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation.

The applicant has provided a draft conceptual mitigation plan, which includes enhancement of approximately 0.38 acre of wetlands below the ordinary high water line on the east side of the enlarged LEDE Reservoir to compensate for permanent fill impacts to 0.04 acre of wetlands. The wetlands would be created by grading and shaping contours to create a flattened littoral shelf. The goal is to create adequate water retention and growing conditions for existing native hydrophytic plant populations that will grow as Reservoir levels recede during the growing season. Additional planting of native nursery stock species would be done in the event natural colonization does not exceed plant densities found on adjacent convex slopes. As summarized in Table 2, the applicant expects that the proposed project will provide additional benefits to the aquatic environment through construction of a deadpool that will provide stable habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates (approx. 2.9 acres), carryover storage that will maintain surface water area (approx. 19.5 acres), and augmentation of in-stream flows during late summer and fall. No compensatory mitigation is proposed for the 1.915 acres of seasonally inundated wetlands because it is expected that these wetlands will be sustained through Reservoir operations. See Table 2 and Figure C1.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), is required for this project.

The applicant provided the following information: 

 1. CDPHE-Water Quality Control Division  401 Water Quality Certification  March 2012  Pending
 2. State Engineer’s Office-Dam Safety Engineer  Review  March 2012  Pending
 3. U.S. Forest Service  Special Use Permit (FS2700-4)  February 2012  Pending
 4. Eagle County  1041 Permit  Nov. 2011  Pending
 5. State Engineer’s Office  Hydrology Report  June 2011  Pending
 6. State Engineer’s Office  Geotech Report  May 2011  Pending

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The USFS, as lead federal agency, has consulted with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The SHPO concurred that there are no historic properties affected by the proposed project. The Corps will review the documentation and determine whether it is sufficient to address Section 106 compliance for the regulated activity, or whether additional Section 106 consultation is necessary.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The USFS, as lead federal agency, has preliminarily determined that the proposed LEDE Reservoir enlargement project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the Federally-listed Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), humpback chub (Gila cypha), bonytail chub (Gila elegans), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), and the plant species Ute ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis). The USFS will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Corps will review the documentation and determine whether it is sufficient to address ESA compliance for the regulated activity, or whether additional ESA consultation is necessary.

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Indian tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2011-00950, must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 27, 2012.

Lesley McWhirter, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Colorado West Regulatory Branch
400 Rood Avenue, Room 134
Grand Junction, CO 81501
Phone: 970-243-1199, ext. 17

The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Lesley McWhirter at 970-243-1199 ext. 17, or by email at

- Figure 1: Vicinity Map
- Figure B: Wetland Delineation Map and Overall Impact Areas
- Figure B6: Cross-Section of Proposed Dam
- Figure C1: Conceptual Wetland Mitigation Map
- Figure D: Earthwork Activity Map
- Table 1: Dredge and Fill Quantities
- Table 2: Wetland Mitigation Plan Summary