Homeland Security joins dam talks | AspenTimes.com

Homeland Security joins dam talks

Ashley Dickson
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, Colorado

FRISCO, Colo. ” The director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security has joined Denver Water and Summit County officials in discussions over re-opening the Dillon Dam Road.

“Right now, we are drafting very simple measures that we believe will meet Denver Water’s vulnerability concerns, while at the same time allow open access on the road,” said Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Brandon Williams.

A meeting Wednesday night between local law-enforcement agencies and representatives from Denver Water established that there have been no specific threats against the dam, and that discussions regarding the reopening of the Dam Road need to start immediately.

State homeland security director Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, who is responsible for ensuring that effective risk management is used in assessing threats to Colorado, attended the meeting to kick off the dialogue.

“General Whitney will be taking an active role in our discussions with Denver Water to facilitate the immediate restoration of public and emergency access,” Williams said.

Denver Water abruptly closed the Dam Road last week, after receiving new information from undisclosed state and federal agencies regarding the dam’s vulnerability.

The lack of advance notice surrounding the closure generated an uproar in the county, prompting local officials last Friday to file a suit in Summit County district court demanding the immediate reopening of the road.

Then, on Tuesday, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue issued Denver Water a “notice of violation,” stating that the barriers placed on the road by the utility violate the international fire code.

Although crews from Denver Water on Wednesday rearranged the barriers to allow fire truck access, fire officials claimed that locked gates on the road continued to hinder response times.

Lake Dillon Fire Marshal Steve Skulski later issued an “order to comply,” referring the fire code violation to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which is responsible for pursuing any criminal investigations related to the violation.

County, town and local emergency officials continue to stress that unimpeded access on the Dam Road is imperative to emergency response, and a press release issued by the county Thursday afternoon stated that “time is of the essence.”

Whitney will join county and Denver Water officials at their next meeting, the specifics of which had not been disclosed Thursday afternoon.


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