Guest columnists: Protecting our Dam Road |

Guest columnists: Protecting our Dam Road

State Rep. Christine Scanlan and State Sen. Dan Gibbs

We are gratified that Denver Water came to the table to resolve the Dillon Dam Road disagreement, and commend Summit County first responders and elected officials for achieving a workable solution to what could have become a protracted and bitter dispute.

But now that this most recent episode is behind us, we need to make sure this community and others throughout the state do not ever have the same experience again.

Denver Water rightly identified potential vulnerabilities, and we are committed to making sure those are taken care of as part of a long-term solution for Dillon Dam Road. So we are going to be working closely with our congressional delegation and pressuring Washington to get the federal funds needed to ensure Dillon Dam is adequately secured from outside threats.

But physically securing our dams and other state assets simply is not enough. When there are terrorism or other threats here or elsewhere, local officials in the impacted areas need to know the nature of those threats. The most appropriate way to do this is by increasing preparedness and cooperation.

Unfortunately, these past few weeks have demonstrated that the proper protocols for achieving a high level partnership is not currently in place.

We also will pursue a bill to increase mutual collaboration between state and local agencies, to make sure that if there is ever a crisis, we’re prepared at all levels.

We will also introduce legislation next legislative session to ensure there is never a unilateral decision to close the Dam road again ” except in the case of an imminent threat ” without first consulting with local officials. Because our communities deserve to know that emergency response times and quality of care will never be compromised by an outside authority.

First, we are proposing that if agencies conduct broad threat assessments for specific communities, the most relevant results are shared with the appropriate local officials, including emergency responders. Officials need adequate information when determining how to mitigate the effects of an attack, fire or other emergency in advance. By sharing information, localities will be better prepared to execute their crisis plans and protect the safety of its residents.

Our second proposal ensures that ample time is given to officials if an agency deems it necessary to close a public road or access point because of a security concern. Unless there is an imminent threat, emergency responders and public safety workers need time to create and install back-up plans.

We learned a lot over the past few weeks. From here forward, we are only interested in making Denver Water our partner. The potential for a mutually beneficial relationship certainly exists, and we are committed to realizing an effective and productive partnership.

State Rep. Christine Scanlan represents Summit, Lake and parts of Eagle counties. State Sen. Dan Gibbs Represents all or parts of Summit, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson and Boulder counties.

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