The downside of a Twitter fest: You were out of line Wockner #COWaterPlatform

January 31, 2014

I’m really uncomfortable writing this post in a public forum, but Gary Wockner chose a public forum…

Today Gary Wockner retweeted one of my Tweets from the Colorado Water Congress’ Annual Convention. The Twitter UI allows you to edit the retweet.

Gary Wockner called Brian Werner a liar in the retweet. That was out of line.

First, he should clarify his charge. He is wrong about Brian being a liar.

Second, he should of used his own website — bare ass and all — or his own Twitter feed, and not piggybacked on mine. Brian Werner is my colleague and my friend. Anyone reading the Tweet could easily think that I typed the word liar and I would never characterize Brian in that way.

Here’s the offensive retweet:

Gary Wockner calling Brian Werner a liar piggybacking on @CoyoteGulch

Gary Wockner calling Brian Werner a liar piggybacking on @CoyoteGulch

I wish Gary hadn’t chosen such a public place to vent. I believe that he lives in a world without context.


CSU Sponsors First Poudre River Forum Feb. 8

January 21, 2014
Cache la Poudre River

Cache la Poudre River

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Jennifer Dimas):

The Cache la Poudre River is life-blood for Northern Colorado. In recognition of its importance to the area, the community is invited to the first Poudre River Forum, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland. The forum, “The Poudre: Working River/Healthy River,” will focus on all of the river’s stakeholders, representing perspectives from agricultural, municipal, business, recreational and environmental backgrounds. Topics to be discussed include:

• The water rights of agricultural and municipal diverters;
• Where the water in the Poudre comes from and what it does for us;
• Ecological factors such as flow, temperature, fish and sedimentation.

The forum will feature presentations and dialogue, including remarks by State Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs about how the Poudre itself was the site of early conflict and cooperation leading to the development of the doctrine of prior appropriation in the West, and how water law has evolved in recent years.

Following the event, a celebration of the river will be held until 6 p.m. with refreshments and jazz by the Poudre River Irregulars.

Pre-registration is required by Jan. 31. The cost is $25; students 18 and under are free and scholarships are available. To register, visit http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/thepoudrerunsthroughit

The event is sponsored by The Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group facilitated by CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.


Fort Morgan councillors pony up $90,000 in 2014 for NISP

January 9, 2014
Map of the Northern Integrated Supply Project via Northern Water

Map of the Northern Integrated Supply Project via Northern Water

From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

The Fort Morgan City Council on Tuesday night approved spending $90,000 in 2014 to continue funding work toward getting the Northern Integrated Supply Project built.

The expenditure further ensures the city’s 9 percent stake in the massive water storage project would remain in place. NISP would involve building two reservoirs to hold water for 15 participants, including Fort Morgan and Morgan County Quality Water District, which has a 3.25 percent share…

The money the city is giving to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District for 2014 participation will go toward providing more information to the Army Corps of Engineers by consultants from Northern Water, as well as to administrative costs for Northern Water, “continuing engineering efforts” and “a fair amount” of public relations work, Nation explained.

“We’ve been working with the various members that are participants in the NISP project, and our latest report was actually one of the most positive reports that I think we’ve heard in a long time,” City Manager Jeff Wells said. “The’ve actually come up with a date when we’re going to get the supplemental (environmental impact statement)back for public comment,” likely in July.

He said that once public comment is opened, it gets closer to ending that portion of the study and moving toward a decision about permitting the project from the Army Corps of Engineers.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


NISP: Fort Morgan is planning (and budgeting) for new supplies from the project

December 18, 2013
Northern Integrated Supply Project preferred alternative

Northern Integrated Supply Project preferred alternative

From the Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

Fort Morgan’s stake in NISP is 9 percent, with the city having invested around $1 million so far. And much more would need to flow from city coffers toward the project before it is all built, according to Nation.

The city has budgeted $90,000 for that purpose for 2014, and planned water rate increases are likely this year and in 2015 to start preparing for needing to contribute even larger amounts toward the project in coming years, he said.

“That’s just kind of where we’re at,” Nation said. “We need to be prepared for when we’re ready for construction.”

Right now, the plan calls for preliminary construction activities to start in 2018 and 2019, he said.

And while the costs to the city may seem astronomical, Nation quickly puts the numbers in perspective:

• Each unit of C-BT water that the city buys right now costs $18,500, a number that keeps rising.

• One C-BT unit is 7/10 of an acre foot of water, and each acre foot is going for $26,000 currently.

• But because of the city’s participation in NISP, the city will have water for about $12,500 per acre foot.

“We’re investing in something that will give us water at $12,500 an acre foot versus $26,000 an acre foot,” Nation said…

Getting the project built is a complicated process, and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, aka Northern Water, is working its way through that process, according to Nation.

During the environmental review process, the engineers for Northern Water have been gathering up data for technical reports, which they soon will pass on to the Army Corps of Engineers for the project’s updated draft environmental impact statement.

The Corps is the lead federal agency for the Northern Integrated Supply Project’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, which aims “to help public officials make decisions based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment,” according to a press release from Northern Water.

The process of putting together the environmental impact statement helps the Corps make a final decision ultimately on whether to issue a permit to build NISP.

The environmental impact statement process for NISP started in August 2004, which led to an initial draft being released for public comment in April 2008, according to Northern Water.

In February 2009, the Corps had announced they would move forward with a supplemental draft environmental impact statement “to include additional studies primarily centered around hydrologic and flow modeling,” the press release stated.

Also helping with the environmental impact statement process are the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Larimer County, according to Northern Water…

With all of the technical reports due to the Corps by Dec. 23, Nation said work on the supplemental draft environmental impact statement could begin “right after the first of the year.”

Once the Corps has all the updated technical data, both from the project’s supporters and objectors, a draft report is put together and then made public. Then there would be public hearings and comment periods.

“We should be getting the draft environmental impact statement taken care of yet this coming calendar year, possibly by summer 2014,” Nation said.

The final environmental impact statement would then be completed in spring 2015 with a final permit decision “due in fall 2016,” according to Northern Water.

But just getting further into the environmental impact statement process shows progress, Nation said.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


Northern Integrated Supply Project survey shows 72% support for the project

October 25, 2013
Northern Integrated Supply Project via The Denver Post

Northern Integrated Supply Project via The Denver Post

Update: Here’s the release from Northern Water about the Ciruli poll showing strong support for NISP in Weld, Larimer and Morgan counties. Here’s an excerpt:

After five years of extended Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) studies, public support for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) remains steady. A survey conducted in July 2013 with 900 voters in Larimer, Weld and Morgan counties shows voter support for the project at 72 percent. The 2013 survey follows a survey conducted in August 2008 with 800 Larimer and Weld county voters that showed NISP had combined county support of 70 percent.

From Northern Water via The Greeley Tribune:

Public support for the Northern Integrated Supply Project remains steady after five years of extended Environmental Impact Statement studies, according to a recent survey. The survey was conducted in July 2013 with 900 voters in Larimer, Weld and Morgan counties, and shows voter support for the project at 72 percent. The 2013 survey follows a survey conducted in August 2008 with 800 Larimer and Weld county voters that showed NISP had combined county support of 70 percent.

The NISP project would build two new reservoirs, along with necessary pump stations and pipelines in Larimer and Weld counties. The project would store runoff from the Poudre River.

A draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is due in 2014.

Ciruli Associates conducted both surveys for the consortium of water providers proposing the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

The latest telephone survey, conducted in July 2013 with 900 registered voters in Larimer (400), Weld (300) and Morgan (200) counties, has a statistical range of accuracy of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for the entire sample.

More coverage from Ryan Maye Handy writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Here’s an excerpt:

The recently completed survey is the second the company has commissioned since 2008. The first survey was released when the first Environmental Impact Statement — a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers examination of the project’s potential environmental damage — was finished. Although 70 percent of Larimer and Weld county participants in the first survey said they were in favor of the NISP project, outcry at the environmental study’s results convinced the Corps of Engineers to do a supplement study, to be completed in 2014.

The second survey, completed in July, showed participants slightly more in favor of NISP — 72 percent said they support the project, according to Denver-based polling and consulting company Ciruli Associates.

Cirulli, which also did the 2008 survey, called 900 registered voters in Larimer, Weld and Morgan counties and asked them two questions. One asked if residents were basically in favor of the project, while the second asked if the decade spent studying the environmental impacts of the project is sufficient time…

The project still has several hurdles to clear before it can become a reality. Once the new EIS is released, Northern Water must settle legal disputes.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


‘We [NISP] are mired in the environmental permitting process’ — Brian Werner #COflood

October 6, 2013
Map of the Northern Integrated Supply Project via Northern Water

Map of the Northern Integrated Supply Project via Northern Water

Here’s a report about the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project from Ryan Maye Handy running in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Here’s an excerpt:

…whatever the contentious Northern Integrated Supply Project might be to Northern Coloradans, at least one thing is (mostly) certain: Despite numerous claims to the contrary, the Poudre River-fed reservoir could have done little to stem the tide of the Poudre during the September floods.

“As much as I’d like to say ‘Glade would have had a big impact on the flood,’ it really wouldn’t have,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water, the water managers organizing the NISP project…

The project to build Glade Reservoir is roughly 30 years in the making, since President Ronald Reagan declared the Poudre a National Wild and Scenic River in October 1986. Then, the declaration was a victory for environmentalists — it limited where the river could be diverted for water conservation but set aside a portion of the river, at the bottom of the canyon, for projects such as the Glade Reservoir.

In theory, the reservoir would divert water off a swollen Poudre River when flows were high, conserving it in the reservoir for dry years, such as 2012, when extra water would be desperately needed, Werner said. The system would hypothetically pull up to 1,000 cubic feet per second from the river; typically, a Poudre flow peak reaches up to 3,000 cfs, Werner said.

But during the early September floods that pushed record levels of water down the Poudre, a loss of 1,000 cfs would have done little to mitigate the water’s power, Werner said. Glade’s ability to help Northern Colorado would be in its ability to hold water in reserve for dry times, Werner argued, not in its capacity to control a 500-year flood event…

Until it gets the results of the 2014 assessment, Northern Water is checking off the necessary boxes to put the project in order — checks that mean nothing until the project gets the go-ahead. Re-routing portions of U.S. 287, which currently runs through the center of the reservoir’s footprint, is one of those “checks.”

For the re-route, CDOT has chosen a 7-mile “rock cut route” through a hogback ridge just north of the current intersection of Overland Trail and U.S. 287, northwest of Fort Collins. It would mean new passing lanes at Ted’s Place — the intersection of U.S. 287 and Colorado Highway 14 — and would cost between $40 million and $50 million.

In the project’s early days, the highway re-route was one of its more contentious aspects. Public meetings were held to address residents’ concerns about the road changes; diverting water from the Poudre wasn’t “the overriding issue” that it has become, Werner said.

“We used to joke in the early days of this project that it was a highway reclamation project, with a reservoir on the side,” Werner added…

“We are mired in the environmental permitting process,” Werner said…

“The CDOT decision is irrelevant. Because NISP would drain and destroy the Poudre River and violate the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, the project will never get built,” he said in an email to The Coloradoan. “So, where CDOT proposes to put a road that will never be built for a project that will never be built is irrelevant.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


Northern Water ponies up dough to keep NISP on schedule

May 31, 2013

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Keeping the Glade Reservoir environmental review on schedule is worth $139,254.95 to Northern Water. That’s how much the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pay for a project manager who will help complete the supplemental environmental review for the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP.

A draft of the review, part of the yearslong permitting process for NISP, had been expected to be released to the public sometime this year, but now the Army Corps is saying it’ll be sometime in early 2014, said Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner. Northern Water and the Army Corps signed an agreement May 17 for the Army Corps to take Northern Water’s money to pay for a part-time project manager for two years. The money is coming from all the cities and water and irrigation districts that are participating in NISP…

In the Army Corps’ May 23 announcement that it had decided to take the money, the agency said it would take numerous steps to prevent the permitting process from being biased toward the approval of NISP. Northern Water’s money will not pay for any work done by people high up in the Army Corps’ chain of command who will be making final decisions on NISP, the announcement said. Franklin said the Army Corps will be unbiased in its decision-making process regardless who pays for the NISP permitting process.

Environmentalists opposing NISP said the money creates the appearance that the Army Corps will have a conflict of interest when decideing whether to give final approval to Glade Reservoir and NISP.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


Northern Water plan in conjunction with NISP could restore streamflow in a section of the Cache la Poudre

April 19, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Northern is discussing raising flows in the stretch that runs from the mouth of Poudre Canyon to an area near Gateway Park. The river normally runs at a trickle in that section, but Northern Water says it could increase flows 30 to 40 cubic feet per second from June to September. That would amount to10,000 to 20,000 acre feet running through the five-mile section…

Northern Water is exploring the possibility as part of its $490 million Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP)…

As part of the reservoir project, Northern Water has proposed that the irrigation company leave the water in the stream through the five-mile stretch and allow Northern to divert it farther down and pump it back up to the proposed Glade Reservoir, where it would be stored for the irrigation company’s use.

Under this scenario, Northern Water would receive credit from the Corps of Engineers for adding water to the river as it draws from the river during spring runoff to fill Glade.

However, the irrigation company believes it would lose out on credit from the Corps of Engineers if Northern Water moved the diversion downstream. It wants credit for its Halligan-Seaman Water Management Project, which involves expanding Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir.

Northern Water and North Poudre Irrigation Co. value those credits because they give the water companies standing to remove water from other places of the river at various times for storage in reservoirs.

“We’re not going to give up potential mitigation credits on our project,” said Steve Smith, operations manager for the irrigation company. “They actually would be in competition with ours.”

Both the irrigation company and Northern Water said they intend to keep negotiating to see if mutually acceptable terms can be reached.

More Cache la Poudre River Watershed coverage here and here.


Permitting water projects: ‘…maybe we’re having the federal government check too many boxes’ — Randy Ray

April 8, 2013

nisp2

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

New water-supply projects could come to fruition much faster if a Colorado congressman has his way in Washington. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is piecing together a bill aimed at speeding up the federal permitting process for new water endeavors, if they are endorsed by the governor of that state.

Many regional water projects have been in the federal permitting stages for years, with participants having spent millions of dollars along the way, and they still have no guarantee the projects will be built.

Brian Werner — a spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which is overseeing efforts to build the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP — said the project has been in its federal permitting phase since 2004, with the 15 participating cities and water districts having already spent about $12 million. He suspects the process will go on for yet another year. Gardner said it’s taking “way too long.”

The details of his bill aren’t finalized, but Gardner said it could call for federal agencies to say “yay” or “nay” on a proposed water project within six to nine months after a governor puts his support behind it.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has yet to endorse NISP, which would supply its partners with 40,000 acre feet of new water supplies annually, if ever built.

Opponents say water-storage projects like NISP could interfere with river flows and impact wildlife, fisheries, forests and recreational use.

Gardner and others say that — with future water shortages expected for a number of regions — new water-supply projects must get a “yay” or “nay” quicker, so those projects can get built or participants can go back to the drawing board. Agriculture, the biggest user of water, will suffer the most if these lulls continue, Gardner added.

Participants of large-scale, water-supply projects must work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and others to make sure all needed wildlife-, habitat- and environmental-protection measures are taken before dirt is moved. “No doubt; mitigation efforts need to be taken,” said Randy Ray, executive director with the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley. “But maybe we’re having the federal government check too many boxes.

“I’d like to see the federal government have more faith in the state, the local water districts and the engineers who are working on these projects.”

Without new water-supply projects in the region, farmers and some water experts worry that growing cities will continue buying up farmland and agricultural water rights in the future to meet their growing needs.

The Colorado-Big Thompson Project, the largest water project in northern Colorado, has seen its water go from 85 percent owned by agricultural users, to now 34 percent owned by agricultural users. Many farmers have sold rights in times when farming wasn’t profitable. Farmers who need water today now depend on leasing it from the cities who own it. But in dry times, like this year, cities say they don’t have enough water in storage to lease to agriculture.

If Colorado had NISP-like projects in place already, Werner and others say, the above-average snowpacks of recent years would have filled those reservoirs, local cities and farmers would have more water in storage now and they would be in much better shape to endure the ongoing drought. Instead, during 2009, 2010 and 2011, a total of about 1.4 million acre-feet of water above what’s legally required flowed from Colorado into Nebraska, according to Werner. “Even if we could have captured just some of that in new reservoirs, how much better off would we be right now?” Werner asked.

Colorado’s ag industry has a $40 billion impact on the state, the second-largest contributor to Colorado’s economy, behind oil and gas.

But according to the 2010 Statewide Water Initiative Study, the South Platte River basin in northeast Colorado could lose as much as 190,000 acres of irrigated farmland by 2050 due to water shortages. Farmers and water experts agree that conservation and water-sharing projects could help Colorado meet its growing water needs, but they say new water-storage projects will also be needed.

Ray didn’t want to comment specifically on Gardner’s bill, but he stressed the need to speed up the federal permitting process for new water projects. He explained that the Central Water and others have been discussing the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project since the 1980s, but are still working with the federal government to get all permitting in order. “It needs to change,” he said “Because we’re not getting anywhere.

“And we really need to get somewhere.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


‘The unpredictable nature of snowpack and rainfall…underscores the need for more water storage’ — Cory Gardner

April 4, 2013

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From the Denver iJournal (J.D. Thomas):

With Colorado cities facing austere watering restrictions and farmers unable to plant crops this year, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, believes the wait for a decision on the Northern Integrated Supply Project has gone on too long.

“The unpredictable nature of snowpack and rainfall in Colorado underscores the need for more water storage in good years, so we are better prepared for the bad ones,” said Garner who is hoping to hurry along a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision regarding the project. “NISP would provide the water storage we need to support northern Colorado’s growing communities and provide protection to farmers and families when the weather turns dry.”

An Environmental Impact Study process conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the project has already taken nine years and cost the participants about $11 million. The congressman is currently drafting water-storage legislation to streamline the approval process for projects like NISP, according to a statement from his office.

“This will ensure that these projects don’t drag on for decades and waste millions of dollars,” said Rachael Boxer-George, Gardner’s spokeswoman. “We are going to set a deadline on when the initial application needs to be approved or denied. The length of the EIS process is being discussed as we draft this bill, but so far we’re focusing on just the permits.”

Ten-year waits on an EIS are certainly not unprecedented, for instance the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District has gone through a similar wait on the Windy Gap firming project. But as growing municipalities on the Front Range seek new quality water sources, the undammed Cache-La Poudre is a natural place to look, and participants in NISP includes not only Weld and Larimer county water districts and municipalities, but also Erie, Lafayette and the Left Hand water district in Boulder County.

Though the two project elements will not actually dam the Poudre, the project has also attracted substantial opposition, including Western Resource Advocates of Boulder. That organization has suggested a program of water conservation, reuse of municipal water and transfer and coordinated use of agricultural water could provide the same amount of water while maintaining the riparian ecosystem of the Poudre.

“I certainly hope the congressman doesn’t believe that he can cut out public input on this process,” said Laura Belanger, the water resources engineer with the Boulder environmental organization.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here. More Windy Gap Firming Project coverage here.


Drought news: New storage or conservation to weather future droughts? #codrought

March 29, 2013

seasonaldroughtoutlookclimatepredictioncenter03212013

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From 9News.com (Dave Delozier):

Almost a decade ago, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District formulated a plan to deal with the growing demand for water. They came up with two projects: The Windy Gap Firming Project and the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

The Windy Gap Firming Project calls for the creation of the Chimney Hollow Reservoir, a 90,000 acre-feet facility that would be built near Carter Lake. It would supply water to two water districts, 10 cities and the Platte River Power Authority.

The Northern Integrated Supply Project calls for the creation of two reservoirs: Glade Reservoir and Galeton Reservoir. Glade would be the biggest in the project with a capacity of 170,000 acre feet of water. That would make it a larger water storage facility than Horsetooth Reservoir. It would stretch for five miles and be located northwest of Fort Collins.

Galeton Reservoir would be built northeast of Greeley and have a storage capacity of 45,000 acre-feet of water. The Northern Integrated Supply Project would serve 15 municipal water providers and two agriculture irrigation companies…

“We need more storage to meet that gap between supply and demand,” [Dana Strongin, a spokesperson for Northern Water] said…

“They’re just trying to get the last legally allowed drops of water off the river and we’re saying no. Let’s stop doing that old idea and let’s move forward with a new paradigm in water management where we conserve, we recycle and we start sharing water with farmers. That is going to be the future,” Gary Wockner, director of the Save the Poudre organization, said.

Wockner fears that building the Glade Reservoir will destroy the Cache La Poudre River by lowering water levels in it. He says that will do damage to the economy in northern Colorado by taking away from fishing, rafting and tourism.

“Because here is the bottom-line, if they get the last legal drops of water off the river then in 10 years or 20 years they’re going to have to start sharing and conserving and recycling eventually. We’re saying let’s do it now and protect this river so there’s at least a small amount of water,” Wockner said.

Say hello to Western Resource Advocates Drought portal. From the website:

In 2012, Colorado experienced its worst drought in 10 years and what Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken has called one of the all-time worst droughts in state history. It appears that 2013 will bring a second consecutive drought season which will include many more watering restrictions than Coloradans saw in 2012.

Drought is a fact of life in the arid West, but experts agree that climate change will lead to an increase in drought frequency and severity.

As the population in the West continues to grow, there will be a greater demand for water for all sorts of uses…and drought will have a greater impact.

Click here to download their drought fact sheet.


The Greeley Tribune editorial staff comes out in favor of NISP

February 11, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune via the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Brian Werner):

We agree with Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar when he said last week that a combination of conservation and new water storage are needed to solve an impending catastrophe for farmers and
ranchers.

Salazar was referring to a projected 600,000 acre-foot water shortage that is expected to hit Colorado by the
year 2050.

Speaking at last week’s Colorado Farm Show, Salazar said municipal users, including those of us who apply a
vast amount of water to our Kentucky bluegrass, must get smarter about water consumption. He also said
farmers and ranchers must take better advantage of technology to do a better job of conserving water. And he
said, too, that water-storage projects (can you say Northern Integrated Supply Project?) must be part of the
state’s 50-year water plan.

We agree on all three accounts.

Salazar’s message hits home with extra impact this winter. Statewide snowpack is sitting at 67 percent of
average, and many of the state’s reservoirs already range from near empty to two-thirds full. Unless the final
three months of the winter provide bountiful snow, Colorado could very well be facing the reality of a water
shortage starting this summer.

Salazar pointed out that Coloradans consume about 120 gallons of water every day. Australians, by
comparison, use 36 gallons per day. That stark difference points out that more can, and must, be done to
conserve the water we use on an everyday basis. Those who grow crops certainly must be participants in that,
and we know from previous coverage that some Weld County farmers already are converting to drip irrigation
systems, which save a considerable amount of water compared to the conventional flood irrigation. Residential
water users must do a better job of embracing xeriscaping and reducing other household water consumption,
and we know that Greeley has been among the state’s leaders in securing significant water savings over the
past few years.

But we must do more.

And that includes building more water storage. The NISP project in northern Colorado is one of the most
responsible, common-sense water storage projects this state has seen in decades. It has to win the approval
of federal regulatory agencies, but we would expect that to happen within a few years and hopefully
construction can start soon thereafter.

Salazar said “massive cooperation” must occur for the state to meet its future water needs. We would agree,
and if we don’t, we’re likely to encounter a massive water problem.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


South Platte River Basin: ‘We have to have an oversupply along the whole system’ — Bob Sakata

January 9, 2013

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Here’s a recap of yesterday’s meeting about the South Platte River Basin groundwater study authorized last session by the legislature [HB12-1278], from Grace Hood writing for KUNC. Groundwater levels are rising, some say, due to the alluvial wells that have been shutdown and augmentation. Here’s an excerpt:

Reagan Waskom is director of the Colorado Water Institute, which hosted the event. He framed the issue this way:

“Are these the only areas in the basin? Is this beginning of a trend toward higher groundwater levels? Are we at the end of something? Was it a blip in time?”

Waskom is working with dozens of scientists, and aggregating data from as far back as the 1890’s to find the answer.

It’s something that matters to farmers like Robert Sakata. Speaking in a facilitated dialogue, Sakata explained he used to own and use wells connected to the South Platte. In the ’70s, he and other junior water rights holders were required to replace the water they used.

“We just felt like it wasn’t economically viable for us as a vegetable farmer to do that,” he said. “Our returns are usually between .5 to 1 percent. That additional cost we just couldn’t justify. So we ended up unhooking the wells.”

Fortunately for Sakata, he also owned surface water rights he could use to irrigate his crops. But other farmers weren’t as lucky. The drought of 2002 and a subsequent state Supreme Court decision in 2006 resulted in thousands of wells being curtailed and about 400 being shut down completely.

“That’s almost the analogy that I see in the state right now is that to make sure we’re not injuring every person along the way, we have to have an oversupply along the whole system,” said Sakata.

Meantime, Joe Frank with the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District spoke of another reality: some of his water rights owners aren’t getting all the water they’re entitled to.

“Going into this next year, if we continue this drought, we’re going to see severe curtailment,” he said. “So ultimately it comes down to water supply. We’re water short in this basin. We need to work together to develop that supply.”[...]

The meeting raised a lot more questions than it answered for the more than 100 who attended. But Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said it was a good beginning.

“Everyone who spoke here today said the big problem was we aren’t taking advantage of our compacts to capture the necessary water that we’re going to need as a state over the next 50 years for agriculture, municipal use.”

Conway is referring to the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), which would build two water storage reservoirs in the region. In recent years it’s become a hotly contested project in the area. Despite the intractable nature of these water debates, the Colorado Water Institute’s Reagan Waskom said he’s determined to make the South Platte River study meaningful.

More meetings are planned, click here.

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here. More South Platte River Basin coverage here. More coverage of the shutdown of irrigation wells in the basin here.


2013 Colorado legislation: The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance will support water storage bills during the upcoming session

January 6, 2013

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

…a local business organization, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, is prepared to support bills dealing with both issues if they match its agenda, which includes developing more water storage facilities and encouraging growth in the energy economy.

Growth in the oil and gas industry should be encouraged, along with innovative approaches to energy, said Sandra Hagen Solin, the NCLA’s issues manager, during the organization’s annual legislative preview on Friday. The event at the Budweiser Event Center was attended by local business leaders and elected officials. The energy sector is critical to Northern Colorado and the state, she said.

“We want to protect those interests and ensure that both sides of that energy equation are protected and are encouraged and are enhanced,” Solin said…

The NCLA is the public policy arm of regional chambers of commerce and economic development agencies. Its priority remains supporting “business vitality first,” Solin said. Its interests include developing additional water storage, especially the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, and Glade Reservoir.

More coverage from Steve Lynn writing for the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

Representatives of the lobbying arm of Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland chambers of commerce and the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation outlined their goals at a luncheon Friday at the Ranch in Loveland.

The alliance will seek funding for expansion of the interstate, said Sandra Hagen Solin, the alliance’s lobbyist. It also will take steps to encourage development of the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

NISP, led by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, is expected to supply cities and towns with 40,000 acre-feet of water annually if approved by the federal government.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


Fort Morgan bumps water rates 5% to cover costs associated with NISP

December 22, 2012

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

The increase, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2013, means that someone whose water bill had been $67.52 per month in 2012 would start seeing water bills around $70.65 in 2013. Yearly, the increase means about $37 more for the average residential customer…

The increase is part of a multi-staged plan to increase water rates gradually to keep up with coming large costs of infrastructure replacement and investment in water storage through the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).

“We want to be ready for NISP,” City Manager Jeff Wells said.

Because of the city’s commitment to NISP, a number of large payments will come due for it in coming years, especially if the project gets the go-ahead from state and federal regulators.

“NISP will have significant impacts on the revenue requirements for the city’s water utility,” Water Resources and Utilities Director Brent Nation stated in a memo to the council. “Currently, the city pays for minor NISP expenses mostly involved in permitting the project, but construction is anticipated to begin within the next five years. Once construction begins, so does the city’s larger financial obligation to the project.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


Western Resource Advocates releases a new report — ‘A Better Future for the Poudre River’

December 15, 2012

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Here’s the link to the webpage where you can download the report. From the executive summary:

A Better Future for the Poudre River Alternative is a solution for meeting future water demands in northeastern Colorado. This report outlines a better approach than the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a proposal by Northern Water that would cause significant harm to the Poudre River. A Better Future provides a strategy for meeting the water needs of 15 towns and water districts while also preserving the Poudre River and the communities and businesses that depend on a healthy river.

Planning for and meeting the water needs of NISP participant communities is critical, as is ensuring the health of the Poudre River and the numerous benefits it provides. Through the recommendations outlined in the Better Future report, Northern Water and NISP participants can chart an innovative path forward that differs from the traditional approach of building large reservoirs. The Better Future for the Poudre River Alternative (“Better Future Alternative” or “Better Future”) relies on a combination of supplies from conservation, reuse, water transferred as a result of growth onto irrigated agricultural lands, and voluntary agreements with agriculture. We encourage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate elements of the Better Future Alternative into its No Action Alternative when completing the NISP Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which is anticipated sometime in 2013. Western Resource Advocates (WRA) offers the following key recommendations that Northern Water, NISP participants, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should consider carefully in planning for the region’s future water needs:

  • Meet projected demands with balanced strategies that are the least environmentally damaging, in contrast to large traditional reservoir and pipeline projects.
  • Use reliable and up-to-date population data and projections
    from the State Demography Office.
  • Implement more aggressive water conservation strategies. Conservation is often the cheapest, fastest, and smartest way to meet new demands; NISP participants have significant opportunities to boost their existing water conservation efforts.
  • Integrate conservation savings—passive and active—into water supply planning.
  • When calculating future water supply projections, include all existing supplies, supplies from growth onto irrigated lands, as well as NISP participants’ water dedication requirements.
  • Maximize the role of water reuse in meeting future needs. Include NISP participants’ existing and planned reuse—as well as additional Better Future reuse supplies—in any analysis.
  • Include increased cooperation between agriculture and local communities in the form of voluntary water sharing agreements that benefit both NISP participants and the agricultural community—without permanently drying up irrigated acres. Alternatives to “buy and dry” transfers present excellent opportunities for meeting future municipal demands.
  • More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District 75th Anniversary bash September 20

    September 17, 2012

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    Here’s the link to the 75th Anniversary webpage from Northern Water:

    The public is invited to come celebrate Northern Water’s 75th anniversary at its Berthoud headquarters on Sept. 20.

    The celebration kicks off at 1 p.m. with an open house and tours of Northern Water’s award-winning Conservation Gardens and an interpretive model of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project – the reason for Northern Water’s creation on Sept. 20, 1937.

    The Sept. 20 celebratory remarks will begin at 2 p.m. Speakers include former Congressman Hank Brown, historian Dan Tyler and Mike Ryan, regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

    After the program, Conservation Gardens tours will continue, along with the opportunity to walk through the Berthoud campus, 200 Water Ave., and learn more about Northern Water’s operations and activities from employees firsthand. Refreshments will be provided.

    More Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.


    Morgan County dairy tour highlights importance of water to agriculture

    August 30, 2012

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    From The Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):

    Lawyers, Front Range city council members, a grain elevator operator, water purification company executives and a power company representative were among the others making the trip.

    The group also heard from Joe Frank of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District about efforts by people from Kersey to the Colorado-Nebraska state line to work together and better manage water, particularly augmentation plans.
    The group would like to partner with some Front Range municipalities to do some leases and exchanges of water instead of the “buy and dry” philosophy some Front Range entities are pursuing…

    Morgan County Quality Water District started in the mid-1970s from efforts by dairy farmers Paul McDill and Bob Samples to get better water for their cattle, Kip Barthlama of the district’s board of directors said.

    Water quality gets worse as one moves downstream along the Platte, it was noted. Frank pointed out that Sterling is in the process of building a $30 million reverse osmosis plant.

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supplemental Draft EIS due Fall 2013

    August 22, 2012

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    Here’s an excerpt from a recent Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District eNews email:

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May requesting an expeditious conclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act study being conducted by the Army Corps for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

    In a response to the governor, Corps of Engineers Colonel Robert Ruch, responded that his agency anticipates the Supplemental Draft EIS for NISP will be released to the public in the Fall of 2013. “The size of the proposals, types of analyses, and the amount of interest they have generated has resulted in substantial reviews,” Colonel Ruch wrote. “Please be assured that I have made the review of all ongoing water supply actions in the Omaha District’s purview a high priority for my Regulatory staff.”

    This was positive news on many fronts. First, is that a definite date for the release of the SDEIS has been given. The SDEIS process began in February 2009. Second, having Gov. Hickenlooper weigh in on the project is enormous. While not an endorsement, his insistence that the studies be brought to conclusion and his affirmation that wise water development, including projects like NISP, are a necessity in Colorado, was welcome indeed.

    The Governor also referenced the ongoing drought in Colorado and the pressing need for water for NISP water providers. He also committed the State to moving through their approval process in a timely manner.

    Governor Hickenlooper also wrote a letter to President Obama where he addressed Denver Water’s Moffat Enlargement Project and its ongoing permitting process.

    In the letter he states, “Colorado is at a critical juncture in forging a more secure future for the development and management of water supplies critical to both our economy and the natural environment that makes our state so great.” Governor Hickenlooper added, “Therefore, we urge you to exercise your authority to coordinate your agencies and bring an expeditious conclusion to the federal permitting processes for this essential project, in order that we can have certainty moving forward as a state.”

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here


    Governor Hickenlooper requests speedier reviews for Moffat Collection System and NISP

    August 15, 2012

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    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    A letter to Obama seeks help spurring decisions on Denver Water’s diversion of 18,000 acre-feet of Colorado River Basin water from the west side of the Continental Divide to an expanded Gross Reservoir west of Boulder. A separate letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asks that the Northern Integrated Supply Project — which would siphon the Cache la Poudre River into new reservoirs storing 215,000 acre-feet of water — be given a high priority.

    Colorado faces “a significant gap in our supplies to provide water for future growth — a gap that cannot be met by conservation and efficiencies alone,” Hickenlooper began in a June 5 letter sent to the White House and copied to cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs. “We urge you to exercise your authority to coordinate your agencies and bring an expeditious conclusion to the federal permitting processes for this essential project, in order that we can have certainty moving forward as a state,” he wrote.

    Click here to read the letter to President Obama. Click here to read the Governor’s letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here. More Windy Gap Firming Project coverage here.


    NISP: ‘…from 2009 to 2011, more than 1 million acre-feet of water left the state’ — Hank Brown

    August 14, 2012

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    Here’s a guest column arguing the necessity of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) to keep Front Range cities from drying up more irrigated agricultural land, written by Hank Brown, running in The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

    Taking water used by agriculture for new homes involves drying up thousands of acres of our most productive irrigated farms. The result will be higher temperatures in the summer, more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and the loss of food and fiber production in Colorado.

    What is the answer? The Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) is being proposed by northern Colorado cities and water districts to save for Colorado thousands of acre-feet of water that is now being lost to Nebraska. The water belongs to Colorado under the federally recognized interstate compact, yet from 2009 to 2011, more than 1 million acre-feet of water left the state — water the state had rights to use.

    What will the project do for our environment? It will improve minimum stream flow, protect against flood and drought, and help prevent the drying up of our farm land. Without NISP, environmental studies estimate that an additional 100 square miles of northern Colorado farmland will be dried up.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Drought news: Drought helps proponents of the NISP make their point about storage

    August 7, 2012

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    Here’s an in-depth look at the current state of the Northern Integrated Supply Project from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    …the 2012 drought has brought an often breathless sense of urgency to the debate over the need for the big alternative to damming up Poudre Canyon – a massive dam building project called NISP that would siphon water from the Poudre River and turn a valley on U.S. Highway 287 north of Fort Collins into Glade Reservoir – a lake bigger than Horsetooth Reservoir.

    The drought proves that Northern Colorado still needs to find “buckets” in which to store water during wet years so the region can have a water savings account for years like this one, said Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, NISP’s mastermind and chief advocate…

    “The current drought throughout Northern Colorado has brought home a stark reality — we need more water storage and soon! Without it, our children’s and grandchildren’s future will be at risk,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway wrote in the Windsor Beacon on July 17. He warned that a Colorado without NISP would be a Colorado with 100 fewer square miles of irrigated farmland in Weld and Larimer counties. It would be an economic and environmental disaster, he said…

    “You can conserve only so much,” [State Sen. Mary Hodge of Brighton] said. “When you conserve as much as humanly possible you don’t leave yourself room for a year (like) you have now.” The bottom line, she said, is that the Front Range isn’t going to stop growing, and all those new Windsorites, Erieans, and Frederickers must have access to more water.

    Perhaps to illustrate the political peril surrounding NISP, Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s administration has no official position on the project except to say that it encourages water projects to have “multiple benefits.” NISP has those benefits, and the state hopes that the Army Corps has prioritized its review of the project, Hickenlooper wrote in a May letter to the Army Corps. “The governor has not endorsed NISP,” Hickenlooper’s special water policy advisor John Stulp said Thursday, adding, “There’s no question about when we have a drought that we start looking at what our options might be to help minimize the impacts of future drought.”[...]

    As the river’s spring flows would be heavily reduced, more than 2,700 acres of native plant communities would be lost, the Army Corps concluded in its draft environmental review. The city of Fort Collins worries water quality in Horsetooth Reservoir could be degraded by a pipeline sending Glade water into Horsetooth Reservoir, possibly costing the city millions in capital costs to ensure the quality of its drinking water is maintained depending on how much water is transferred between reservoirs. And, in addition to harm city natural areas along the Poudre could suffer if the river is diminished, the city could have to spend in excess of $125 million to upgrade its water treatment facilities to protect the river…

    …the era of big dam proposals on the Poudre River evaporated decades ago after Congress protected a long stretch of the river as wild and scenic in 1986, effectively canceling the Cache la Poudre Project, a proposal to build a chain of reservoirs throughout Poudre Canyon. A later plan to build a dam lower in the canyon was also scuttled…

    …even Poudre River advocates are divided on NISP and Glade. “NISP is the natural outgrowth (of the fact that) we didn’t build a dam on the main stem at Grey Mountain,” said Bill Sears, president of Friends of the Poudre, who said the primary concern in the 1980s was to ensure that the values of a free-flowing river in Poudre Canyon trumped the value in storing water there. But now that the canyon is protected, “the need for water storage doesn’t go away,” he said. “So, where are you going to put it? “To their credit, Northern has scoured the area thoroughly,” he said. “I think they make their case for Glade, but until the Corps of Engineers makes their final ruling, I’m hesitant to make a hard and fast stand.”

    From The Denver Post (Joey Bunch):

    Tuesday’s forecast high of 92 degrees could be as cool as it gets in the city for a week, according to the National Weather Service office in Denver. The drought-parched Eastern Plains have a slight of rain, but “precipitation amounts will generally be light,” forecasters said Monday. Western Colorado could see slightly cooler temperatures this week, with highs in the low 80s in Steamboat Springs and Durango, and in the 70s in Aspen, according to the weather service.

    All of Colorado remains in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor. After the hottest July on record in Denver, when temperatures were 4.7 degrees hotter than usual, August so far is 2.7 degrees above average.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Save the Poudre/Poudre Waterkeeper plans ‘Restore the Corridor’ effort to improve river ecological health through Fort Collins

    July 30, 2012

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    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

    It plans to do that through a campaign called “Restore the Corridor” and dogged activism when reviewing development proposals, working to restore wildlife habitat and promoting recreational opportunities, said executive director Gary Wockner.

    The group doesn’t expect to be the only “voice” for the river when it comes to determining what happens around it, said Mark Easter, Save the Poudre board of directors chairman. But somebody has to speak out when it comes to guarding the river’s health, he said, adding many community groups have an interest in what happens along the Poudre…

    But critics worry the nonprofit will use its political muscle to sink all development projects along the river. Save the Poudre last month filed two appeals of projects that were approved through Fort Collins’ planning process…

    “(Wockner) is saying ‘no’ to everything, across the board,” [Gino Campana, owner of Bellisimo Inc.] said. “I believe there is not a solution we can engineer to satisfy Save the Poudre.” Conceptual plans for the project call for restoring riparian forest along sections of the property closest to the river. It’s the type of work city officials and Save the Poudre say they support, Campana said.

    “We should be on the same side of the table,” he said. “He wants to be on the other side.”

    Wockner declined to comment on Campana’s project until its development plans are formally submitted. The only item being contested at the moment is the density issue and its potential impact on wildlife, he said…

    The Save the Poudre Coalition formed about six years ago to battle the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, and Glade Reservoir. Glade would be built north of Ted’s Place and draw water from the Poudre…

    Save the Poudre has a right to express its opinion and take action on any topic, [Jim Reidhead, a longtime local businessman and community activist] said. It is skilled at following legal processes such as appeals in making its case. But it appears to be determined to obstruct any type of development or water-storage project on the river, especially if it might promote growth.

    More Cache la Poudre watershed coverage here.


    Supporters of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) rally in Fort Lupton

    July 25, 2012

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    From KUNC (Kirk Siegler):

    “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, this is a Colorado issue,” said Fort Lupton Mayor Tom Holton. The rally under the blistering sun took place at the Fort Lupton Historic site – an adobe replica of a fur-trading post along the South Platte River between Denver and Greeley…

    Saving farms is one of the main arguments put forth by cities and districts like Left Hand backing the estimated $400 million NISP project. The idea being that if these cities and districts had their own water supplies, they wouldn’t have to buy up all the farmers’ water…

    “There is no water left in our rivers and that’s what we have to come to grips with and find a new path forward,” [Gary Wockner] says…

    Backers of NISP say other proposals floated by environmentalists such as water leasing from farms still won’t meet the region’s long-term needs.

    From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

    The Army Corps delivered its latest assessment in a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who wanted to know when the impact statement would be completed. That’s a sign that Hickenlooper and the cities and towns that would benefit from NISP want the project done…

    Northern Water is a chief proponent of NISP, which calls for the Cache La Poudre to be diverted during high-flow periods to fill two proposed reservoirs, Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins and Galenton Reservoir east of Ault. The latest cost of the project is at $490 million. At least 15 northern Colorado water providers also back NISP, believing it will sustain them during times of drought…

    However, a comprehensive review of NISP was expected to attract a similar review by the Corps, [Brian Werner] said. “We’ve never been held to a hard and fast deadline,” he said. “What I am hearing from the 15 communities and the governor, is ‘Hey, let’s get this thing done.’ “

    From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

    “The current drought throughout Northern Colorado has brought home a stark reality – we need more water storage and soon,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway has said. “Without it our children and grandchildren’s future will be at risk.”[...]

    Meanwhile, Weld County farmers have struggled to maintain their crops during the drought. Crop insurance claims are up, people in the industry say, despite overflowing groundwater wells that remain shut off to Weld farmers.

    The project “would provide the water storage we need to support Northern Colorado’s growing communities and provide protection to economies and families when the weather turns dry,” Rep. Cory Gardner said in a statement.

    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ashley Keesis-Wood):

    During the July 16 work session, the [Windsor] town board spent some time refreshing itself on a topic that hasn’t gotten a lot of traction in the last couple of years: the status of the Northern Integrated Supply Project…

    Windsor has been a player in Northern Water since its formation and is currently a 8.25 percent shareholder in the project…

    The project will cost an estimated $500 million, and that cost will be borne by participants in the project, in proportion to the amount of water they’re requesting from NISP. Windsor’s share of water is 3,300 acre-feet, which comes to about $40 million. There are, Brouwer said, multiple ways to fund the project, including special bond financing, loans or upfront payment…

    In short, [Carl Brouwer] said he hopes the project will be producing water by 2018. “Glade would be built and completed by then, and we’d be completely finished with all construction by 2022 or 2023,” Brouwer said. “We can postpone a phase or two as needed, depending on the financial capacity of the partners involved.”

    Thus far, Windsor has contributed about $933,000 to the project. Once the project is online, Windsor and other participants will enter into allotment contracts where the shares of water become tangible assets that can be bought and sold within the boundaries of the Northern Water district…

    The 3,300 acre-feet that Windsor is in for in NISP is enough water to basically double Windsor’s water allotment from the Colorado Big Thompson Project and its other water sources, allowing the town’s population to essentially double, as well.

    Board member Don Thompson asked whether there were negative implications from buying town water from other sources. “We’re paying other entities to treat the water we already own,” said Dennis Wagner, engineering director. “We’re not buying water from other entities.”

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP): The Corps of Engineers delays supplemental draft EIS until the fall of 2013

    July 24, 2012

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    Here’s a release from Save The Pourdre/Poudre Waterkeeper (Gary Wockner):

    On Friday, July 20, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed Save The Poudre that the next draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and its Glade Reservoir would not be released to the public for at least another year — “Fall of 2013.” The information came in a letter from the Corps that was written to Governor Hickenlooper. The letter cites “concerns regarding cumulative impacts to the Cache la Poudre River.” The letter goes on to say, “The size of the proposals, types of analysis, and the amount of interest they have generated has resulted in substantial reviews.”

    “This is great news for the Poudre River,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Poudre. “This river-destroying scheme has now been delayed for 5 years with no end in sight.”

    Save the Poudre has been relentlessly bird-dogging NISP. Over the last 18 months, Save the Poudre has sent the Corp 17 letters, reports, and documents demonstrating the need for more analysis in the NISP EIS, some of that specifically regarding cumulative impacts of NISP with other proposed projects in the basin.

    While the next draft of the EIS may be released in the Fall of 2013, NISP has a vast array of hurdles to jump after that. For example:
    1. The next draft of the EIS (called the “Supplement Draft” EIS) allows for another public comment period.
    2. After that public comment period, the Corps must again consider those comments and re-analyze any significant concerns.
    3. After that analysis, the Corps will release a “Final” EIS, which also allows for yet another public comment period and re-analysis of significant concerns.
    4. Then NISP must apply for and receive several additional state and federal permits, which may have significant analysis involved, including from the State of Colorado Water Quality Control Division and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
    5. Assuming all of those hurdles can be jumped, the Corps will then issue a “Record of Decision” (ROD).
    6. After the ROD is released, then anyone can formally challenge the project in court, which could take years to resolve.

    As one example of a similar process, the Animas-La Plata dam/reservoir project in southwest Colorado was recently completed after 40 years of permitting and court challenges. As another example, the “Two Forks” dam and reservoir proposal west of Denver on the South Platte River was never completed because it was denied by another federal agency because the project would have irrevocably harmed the river as opposed to alternatives such as increasing water conservation in the Denver metro area.

    At a recent public meeting (as reported in Windsor Now), the spokesperson for NISP said he expected NISP to be completed in the year 2022, 10 years from now.

    “Ten years is extreme optimism,” responded Gary Wockner. “Our mission is to protect and restore the Poudre River and NISP violates our mission. NISP participants need to invest in alternatives now — such as the “Healthy Rivers Alternative” which focuses on water conservation and efficiency — rather than throwing away more ratepayers’ money on NISP.”

    More coverage from Monte Whaley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

    Werner said a recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to delay issuing its environmental impact statement for at least another year — sometime in fall 2013 — is not a sign the project is in trouble.
    “We are at the mercy of the process, we’ve never been tied to a deadline,” Werner said The Army Corps delivered its latest assessment in a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who wanted to know when the impact statement would be completed. That’s a sign that Hickenlooper and the cities and towns that would benefit from NISP want the project done…

    …a comprehensive review of NISP was expected to attract a similar review by the Corps, Werner said. “We’ve never been held to a hard and fast deadline,” he said. “What I am hearing from the 15 communities and the governor, is ‘Hey, let’s get this thing done.’ “

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP): Storage is key to future growth

    May 27, 2012

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    From the Boulder Daily Camera (Bob Juhl/Joseph A. Wilson/Carolyn Cutler):

    Erie and Lafayette and the Left Hand Water District, which serves Eastern Boulder County, have spent the past decade studying the best methods to ensure our ability to access enough water to meet our future dry year needs. Together with 12 regional water providers, we determined that NISP is our best option from more than 200 options studied. NISP is not only the most environmentally sensitive project, but also the best solution from an economic standpoint.

    Some believe the region will be fine without NISP. We wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement states clearly that if NISP is not built, one of the consequences will be the elimination of 100 square miles of irrigated farmland in Northern Colorado because communities will have to purchase necessary water supplies from farmers. One of NISP’s goals is to keep water on farms to ensure their continued operation.

    Northern Colorado will continue to grow regardless of whether NISP is built or not. Colorado needs to keep available water supplies in the state for its citizens. From 2009 to 2011 Colorado saw more than 1.4 million acre feet of water leave the state to Nebraska over and above what is required. That’s enough water to supply the entire Front Range of Colorado with water for a year…

    Please go to gladereservoir.org for more information about NISP and an upcoming support rally scheduled for July 24.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project update: ‘The NISP project really fits like a glove on our water portfolio for the future’ — said Doug Short (Lafayette)

    April 23, 2012

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    From the Boulder Daily Camera (Breanna Draxler):

    “The NISP project really fits like a glove on our water portfolio for the future,” said Doug Short, the public works director in Lafayette. The city is trying to diversify its water supply to prevent vulnerability from dependence on a single source, especially considering the unknown future impacts of climate change, Short said.

    The proposed supply project would include two reservoirs, two pump plants and a series of pipelines aimed at providing water for the growing population east of the Rockies. “One way or another we’re going to need additional water,” said Brian Werner, of Northern Water, the organization proposing the project…

    The proposed project would increase Northern Water’s storage capacity so it could collect more water in wet years, like last year, to be used in dry years, like this year. “We’re there for those dry times,” Werner said, equating Northern Water to a water supply savings account.

    The proposed Glade Reservoir would store water from the Cache la Poudre River. Its location northwest of Fort Collins would require the relocation of seven miles of U.S. 287. The second proposed water storage facility, Galeton Reservoir, would be located northeast of Greeley and would collect water diverted from the South Platte River…

    In addition to the economic costs, opponents fear environmental degradation related to the project. Laura Belanger, a water resources and environmental engineer at Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, said diverting water from the rivers will be detrimental to the riparian ecosystems. “There will be no peak flows left in the Poudre River,” Belanger said.

    Peak flows provide habitat and spawning areas for wildlife, she said, as well as move sediment and remove vegetation. “If you remove peak flows from a stream system, that stream system can’t survive,” Belanger said…

    Belanger commended Northern Water and the project’s participating communities for their conservation efforts and outreach, and she said that these savings should be considered a larger portion of future water supplies. But Northern Water is unconvinced that it will be enough. Limiting water projects will not limit growth, Werner said. “We can’t conserve our way to future supply,” he said.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Colorado Water 2012: The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District turns 75 this year

    April 4, 2012

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    Here’s the latest installment of the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series written by Brian Werner. From the article:

    The rich water development history of the South Platte Basin goes back another 75 years before Northern Water’s creation. In fact the earliest water rights in the basin date to 1861 when the first farmers began diverting water from the Poudre River near Fort Collins.

    A little more than a decade later, in 1874, a confrontation between the downstream Greeley residents and the upstream Fort Collins residents led to the codification of the doctrine of prior appropriation and eventually as part of the State Constitution in 1876.

    As ditch, reservoir and irrigation companies were developed and canals built during the remainder of the 19th century the region flourished and developed a robust agricultural economy. Beginning in the 1890s and continuing for 20 years, hundreds of storage reservoirs were built to store water for late summer irrigation or for future dry years.

    When Northern Water was created in the 1930s as a direct result of the ongoing drought and depression, there were more than 120 ditch, reservoir and irrigation companies in existence within the boundaries of what was to become the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

    Northern Water was established under the Water Conservancy Act of Colorado in September 1937. Its first order of business was to work with the Federal government – the Bureau of Reclamation which had been established in 1902 – to build what was to become the largest transmountain diversion project in the state. The project, the Colorado-Big Thompson, was a direct result of the 1930s drought and depression and was viewed as a life saver for the economy of northeastern Colorado…

    Today, Northern Water is working through the environmental permitting on two water storage projects – the <a href="Today, Northern Water is working through the environmental permitting on two water storage projects – the Windy Gap Firming and the Northern Integrated Supply projects. When built these will provide an additional 70,000 acre feet of new supply to the region and lessen the pressure on agriculture to supply those needs.”>Windy Gap Firming and the Northern Integrated Supply projects. When built these will provide an additional 70,000 acre feet of new supply to the region and lessen the pressure on agriculture to supply those needs.

    More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.</p


    Fort Lupton council ponies up the $75,000 annual payment for the Northern Integrated Supply Project

    February 29, 2012

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    From the Fort Lupton Press (Gene Sears):

    Voting in the affirmative, Fort Lupton City Councilors approved the seventh in a series of payments for the Northern Integrated Supply Project Feb. 13. For 2012, the prorated portion for the city comes to $75,000, the amount necessary to retain a stake in the water supply project.

    The overall 2012 price tag for NISP among all participants is $1.5 million for some 40,000 acre-feet, 3.000 of which is earmarked for the city upon completion. That amount is in addition to $10.8 million already spent by all participants on the project since inception, the majority of which centers around permitting preparations and cost.

    Plagued by opposition from environmental groups such as Save The Poudre, final permitting and construction has repeatedly been pushed back until 2025 and possibly farther in the event of lawsuits, likely as the project gains ground.

    While there are no guarantees that NISP will ever move past the planning stages, if the city dropped its payment schedule, any monies invested in the project thus far would be forfeited. For Fort Lupton, that total before the upcoming payment is approximately $825,000

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    2012 Colorado November election: Congressman Gardner talks water at Berthoud town hall meeting

    January 17, 2012

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    From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

    “Conditions at the beginning of 2012 are similar to the beginning of 2002,” Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner said at a town meeting in Berthoud on Monday…

    “We must have the water that is necessary to thrive and grow,” Gardner said. That includes water storage, such as the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, as well as water conservation, Gardner said…

    Decreasing business regulations, supporting water storage projects, protecting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are all in his purview this session, he said. So is supporting collaborations between private industry and the public sector — such as the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology project in Loveland, which will bring jobs to the region — protecting agriculture from federal legislation that could harm the industry and urging renewable and traditional energy development.

    More coverage from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

    Alarmed that the NRCS warned him this year’s mountain snowpack conditions are dangerously similar to those of 2002 – the year of the Hayman Fire and one of the Rockies’ worst droughts in recent memory – Gardner said these kinds of conditions will hurt Colorado farmers and the economy if more water storage isn’t available during dry years. “If we are going to have a long-term outlook for economic growth, we must have the water that is necessary to survive and grow,” he said. “That’s not only to meet the needs of the population, that’s to meet the needs of agriculture and industry. That’s why I think we need to go forward with projects like NISP, and we need to go look for other new projects.”[...]

    Gardner said EPA regulations imposed by other federal agencies should not be used to stall new water storage projects, including NISP. The EPA criticized an environmental review of NISP for insufficiently addressing the project’s impacts on water quality and other issues. “The numbers speak for themselves: 69 percent-of-average snowpack,” he said. “Two-thirds of the value of the state’s agricultural production occurs in the South Platte Basin. Last year, a million acre-feet of water left the state that we could have stored right up here (in Glade).” Monday’s NRCS snowpack data show the South Platte River Basin, which includes the Poudre River, has a snowpack 72 percent of average, while the Laramie-North Platte River Basin, which includes Cameron Pass west of Fort Collins, has a snowpack 61 percent of normal. The driest river basins in the state are the Gunnison and Colorado river basins, which are at 56 and 57 percent of normal, respectively.

    From the Greeley Gazette (Craig Masters):

    The location at Northern Colorado Water was symbolic of what may well become a critical issue this coming year in much of rural Colorado; water for agriculture and industry. In his opening remarks, Congressman Gardner reviewed the current snowpack statistics, since snow on the ground in the winter is critical to water in the rivers during spring and summer growing seasons…

    The 4th U.S. Congressional District, Gardner’s district, is only one of the several U.S. congressional districts spanning several states dependent on the flow of Rocky Mountain snowmelt feeding into the Platte River system.In response to audience questions about their concerns over the storage of Colorado River water for Mexico being considered by the Obama administration, Gardner stated he supports strong state control over water usage within the state. But he emphasized that to minimize federal intervention, it is important to establish workable cooperative agreements with downstream states. He further assured the resident, who identified himself as a local rancher, that no agreement for storage beyond 2013 had yet been worked out with Mexico. (The concerns were over a Dec. 2010 agreement to store 260,000 acre feet of Mexico’s Colorado River water in Lake Mead until 2013. This was to allow Mexico time to repair earthquake damage to water delivery infastructure in northern Mexico.)

    More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.


    The Larimer County Agricultural Advisory Board unanimously supports findings on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP)

    November 13, 2011

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    From a release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Brian Werner):

    The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer Board of County Commissioners has reported that the Northern Integrated Supply Project will not dry up farms in Northern Colorado as represented in the Save the Poudre’s “Farm Facts” report. The AAB’s general conclusion was that NISP will help slow down the rapid and accelerated dry up of farms throughout Northern Colorado.

    In an October 26 memo to the Board of County Commissioners (see link to memo in Reporter-Herald story), the AAB said, “It’s better for agriculture for future municipal and domestic water supplies to come from the combination of conserved water and from new stored supplies (such as NISP) derived from available undeveloped water rather than from additional agricultural dry-up. Population growth will occur with or without NISP. Water conservation alone will not provide adequate future water supplies.”

    The County Commissioners thanked the AAB for their input and study of NISP and it’s agricultural related impacts. As reported in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Commissioner Steve Johnson said to the three board members who attended the elected board’s meeting, “You guys are the ones that are experts. You are the ones dealing with this every day. It’s not just debate. It’s your livelihood.”[...]

    The AAB memo disputes the Save the Poudre claim that free river opportunities will be greatly diminished if NISP is built. “Currently, this undeveloped water is leaving Colorado without being beneficially used within the state … water for NISP will not be diverted unless and until all water rights senior to NISP have been fully satisfied,” the AAB report said. The report added “Glade will not curtail in any way the rights or the abilities of ditch companies to fully utilize their senior ditch water rights…”

    Save the Poudre’s “Farm Facts” were also disputed by Alamosa rancher and Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft last April. In a press release Shawcroft said, “Save the Poudre does not speak for Colorado agriculture, an industry forthright and vocal in its support for NISP. Colorado farmers and ranchers support the NISP project. If we support the development of a water project, you can bet it will help keep irrigated farmers on the land.”

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer County Commissioners reports that the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will not stimulate increased growth in N. Colorado

    October 27, 2011

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    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

    A memo by the Larimer County Agricultural Advisory Board states NISP would not necessarily accelerate the selling and subdivision of farms to meet the water needs of growing cities as predicted in a study released earlier this year by Save the Poudre, which opposes the project. “The need for NISP is the result of growth, which has occurred or will occur, rather than NISP being a cause of that growth,” Val Manning, chair of the advisory board told the county commissioners Tuesday…

    The board also found construction of Glade Reservoir north of Ted’s Place would not take significant agricultural land out of production because the property already is owned by Northern Water, which has proposed building NISP. There’s no evidence the project would increase salinity levels in Weld County fields and reduce crop productivity as stated in Save the Poudre’s report, “The Farm Facts about NISP,” the board stated…

    The board’s analysis questioned Save the Poudre’s contention that the amount of “free water” available for diversion during years of high flow would be eliminated by NISP because water rights for the project are junior to other claims on the river’s water. [Board member George Wallace] told the commissioners some downstream farmers have become accustomed to using “free” water for production during years of high flow and they would be affected by reduced availability.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer County Commissioners reports that the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will not dry up agriculture

    October 26, 2011

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    From the Loveland Reporter Herald (Pamela Dickman):

    The Agricultural Advisory Board, made up of several working farmers, released a report to the commissioners Tuesday saying the Northern Integrated Supply Project reservoirs would not dry up farmland and would not harm productive crops with increased salinity. The report was in response to an April release from Save the Poudre, the environmental advocacy group leading opposition to the proposed reservoirs…

    The region will need additional water supply for growth with or without the reservoir projects. NISPwill meet those needs and take pressure off farmers’ water, according to the report.

    There is no evidence that shows salinity will increase on farmland despite the fact that eastern Colorado farmers will be receiving effluent water. The dirtier water will be diluted enough that farmland should not be affected.

    The water to initially fill, and to maintain the reservoirs, would be extra water above that already claimed from the Poudre River and would not come out of allocations to farmers. The water would be, in essence, extra water during wet years that would flow out of state if not captured.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    CSU to present six week non-credit adult education course — ‘Whiskey’s For Drinking; Water is for Fighting: The Social Organization of Water in Colorado’, starting October 26

    October 15, 2011

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    From email from Colorado State University:

    The non-credit adult education water organization course at CSU addresses how a succession of conflicts were each resolved by self governing organizations: On the irrigation ditches (mutual companies, irrigation districts); among ditches on the rivers (State Engineers Office); how supplemental supplies were organized via water exchanges; trans-mountain imports (mutuals and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District); groundwater use (4 varieties of augmentation organization); incorporation of a federal endangered species agenda (Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the U.S. Department of Interior); and finally, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will be reviewed along with alternatives. Find more information here.


    ‘Future Horizons for Irrigated Agriculture’ tour recap: Greeley and other Weld County Communities are gearing up for population growth

    September 21, 2011

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    Here’s an in-depth look at efforts by northern Colorado cities to water the expected growth in population from The Greeley Tribune. Click through and read the whole article and check out the photo gallery. Here’s an excerpt:

    Water storage for the future is viewed as so vital to the northern Front Range that the 15 participating municipalities and water districts of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, have spent about $10 million during the past seven years just to plan and analyze the endeavor. But there is no guarantee that NISP — a project that includes the construction of two new reservoirs in northern Colorado — will ever take shape. The federal government continues to analyze the Environmental Impact Statement…

    Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department, said the city’s current supply will meet the needs of the community for only 25 more years, maybe less. In preparation, Greeley officials want to expand the Milton Seaman Reservoir, one of six high-mountain reservoirs from which the city draws its water. The reservoir holds about 5,000 acre-feet of water, and the proposed project calls for it to be expanded more than 10-fold to 53,000 acre-feet. The expansion would allow Greeley to pull 7,800 acre-feet of water off the reservoir annually, up from the 750 acre-feet it can pull now. Greeley uses about 45,000 acre-feet of water per year; demand is expected to grow to about 65,000 acre-feet by 2050. After initiating efforts in 2004, the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project is expected by 2013, and a final EIS is expected by 2015. Afterward, construction would take two years and filling the reservoir could take another five to 10 years…

    Another water storage effort is The Windy Gap Firming Project. The 25-year-old Windy Gap Project near Granby diverts water from the Colorado River to the Front Range via the Colorado-Big Thompson Project on a space-available basis. According to Monson, during wet years when water is available for Windy Gap diversions, Lake Granby is often full with little or no space for the water. During dry years, the water right can be too junior to come into priority, so no water is available to pump. Greeley is allotted 4,400 acre-feet of water annually from the Windy Gap Project, but that supply hasn’t always been available. The Windy Gap Firming Project was proposed to ensure reliable future deliveries. Nine other municipalities, including Evans, participates in the project, along with the Central Weld County Water District and two other districts. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to publish the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Windy Gap Firming Project in November.

    More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.


    Colorado Water Congress annual summer meeting: U.S. Representative Cory Gardner — ‘Water projects in Colorado have been set back, delayed or canceled because of federal policies’

    August 25, 2011

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    “In Colorado, job creators rely on water and a stable water future,” Gardner said. “If job creators know we are committed to building future water supplies and enacting common-sense conservation policies, it will boost our economy and continue to attract new employers to the state.”[...]

    One of the key themes of the summer meeting of Water Congress has been the need for more storage to capture the ample water that flowed out of both the Colorado and South Platte basins this year…

    The $400 million Northern Integrated Supply Project, promoted by 15 communities in the Northern Water Colorado Conservancy District, is an example of the type of project that could move more quickly without restrictive federal policies, he said. The storage would benefit agriculture as well as cities, Gardner said, pointing to agricultural losses in Southeastern Colorado this year.

    More coverage from Joe Moylan writing for the Craig Daily Press. From the article:

    Gardner said he helped pass H.R. 2018, or The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, in July. The legislation preserves the authority of each state to make determinations on its own water quality standards and limits Environmental Protection Agency controls that undermine state and local water authorities concerning water management. “I know that some people oppose this legislation,” Gardner said. “But I just happen to believe that Coloradans know best when it comes to their water.”[...]

    Gardner pledged to fight for Colorado by abiding to his three-prong strategy that focuses on water storage, water conservation and creating critical partnerships when necessary, without sacrificing Colorado as the leader when it comes to its own water and economy.

    “Because of limited storage, good Colorado water is flowing out of the state,” Gardner said. “This water could have been and should have been stored right here, growing our farms and our businesses.

    “And, as (State Rep.) Jerry Sonnenberg said, ‘We didn’t even get a thank you note from Nebraska.’”

    More coverage from Allen Best writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

    …Gardner, in his speech at the meeting of the Water Congress, Colorado’s top organization for traditional water providers, said that Colorado and other states should have the right to determine their own water quality. “I just have to believe that Colorado knows what’s best when it comes to their water resources,” he said…

    Becky Long, of the Colorado Environmental Coalition…panned the idea of pulling back federal authority. Problems with hormones and petrochemicals persist, and the problem of nutrients creating dead zones isn’t just one found where the Mississippi River pours into the Gulf of Mexico. Grand Lake—the lake, not the town – has the problem too, she pointed out…

    Gardner also called for more water storage, a theme of many speakers at this conference. It was, after all, an epic year for water runoff in much of Colorado. A new record for snowfall was set in the state, with Buffalo Pass, located about 8 miles from Steamboat, still having so much snow by late May that there was still seven feet of water content…

    Again, environmentalists were not persuaded. “There are different kinds of storage,” observed [Steve Glazer]. Dams to control floods must be kept empty, those to steel communities against drought should be kept full…

    As Gardner noted, Aspinall famously noted that when you touch water in the West, you touch everything. But a lot of that stored and diverted water was the result of federal loans and grants–something we aren’t seeing a lot of these days.

    Finally, here’s a Tweet from the Colorado River District:

    Day1 #ColoradoWater Congress Summer Conf focuses on energy-water nexxus and features Colo Congressmen Tipton and Gardner and state reps

    More Colorado Water coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) update: Supplemental environmental impact statement delayed until 2012

    May 24, 2011

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    From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):

    Chandler Peter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the permitting processes for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and other proposed dams and reservoirs on the Poudre River (Halligan and Seaman) have been delayed yet again, now for the third time. The initial release for the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for NISP was supposed to be in June of 2010, and was initially delayed until the summer of 2011, and then delayed again until the latter part of 2011, and has now been delayed “into 2012″ with “no refined ETA for the SDEIS” according to an email from Mr. Peter to Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper today. Additionally, the first draft of the EIS for the new Halligan (Fort Collins) and Seaman (Greeley) dams and reservoirs on the North Fork of the Poudre was slated for the summer of 2011, but then was delayed for a half year after the release of the NISP SDEIS, which will now put them into 2012 or 2013.

    More NISP coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) rally for proponents draws 300 people

    May 23, 2011

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    From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

    Fort Morgan, which is one of 15 municipalities and water districts that have helped fund the project thus far, was represented at the rally by Councilmen Jim Powers and Brent Nation. Also there from Fort Morgan were Water Advisory Board member Bill Baker, Water Resources Director Gary Dreessen, Water Treatment Plant Superintendent John Turner, Quality Water District General Manager Mark Kokes and city resident Don Ostwald, as well as Morgan County resident Brad Wind…

    Northern Water Conservancy District General Manager Eric Wilkinson kicked things off with some good news for the project, telling the crowd that the latest round of environmental studies “are finding that the impacts of NISP are much less” than previously thought…

    “If we are going to (grow the northeast Colorado economy), the only way to sustain it long term is to build water storage,” [Congressman Cory Gardner] said. “That is why NISP is especially important.” The congressman, who spoke at previous rallies for the project when he was in the state legislature, passionately talked about the water that would be stored there helping agricultural communities to thrive while also providing the lifeblood of growing centers. “Construction of NISP will mark when we no longer rely on the past, but create our future,” he told the crowd, adding that the state`s business future depends on “a better water future.”[...]

    Agland CEO Mitch Anderson took a darker approach, warning people, “If we don`t do things like this, we need to be prepared to send people around the world to fight the unrest caused by food shortages.”

    More NISP coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supporters of the project rally in Loveland

    May 20, 2011

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    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

    Northern Water holds a rally for NISP once each year to keep the support for the project high among business leaders, local governments and the agricultural community…

    As the list of NISP supporters continues to grow, political momentum has reached a tipping point, Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said. “We started to achieve critical mass two years ago,” he said, adding that most people in Weld County are tired of seeing farmland dried up so water can go to Thornton and other growing suburban cities and towns…

    “This is a shovel-ready project,” U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner said. “We could actually start creating jobs today.” Gardner said NISP will create many jobs and spark millions of dollars of investments in the local economy. “Our state’s businesses depend on a brighter water future,” he said. “Our state’s agricultural economy faces the threat of the buy up and dry up of 60,000 acres of some of the most productive agricultural land in this nation. Our economy, our businesses are linked to water.”[...]

    Save the Poudre Director Gary Wockner said after the rally that the group has published an alternative to NISP that proposes to provide water for growing cities while protecting the Poudre River. “It has two main components,” Wockner said. “One is a very strong focus on water conservation and the second is a new partnership with farmers that focuses on rotational fallowing and water-sharing programs.”

    More coverage from Tom Hacker writing for the Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

    The rally organized by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District promoted the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a controversial water storage project. Backers say it is needed to shore up a regional water supply that demand will outstrip in the next decade, and that failure to build it would doom agriculture. Critics say it would threaten the free-flowing Cache la Poudre River, degrading water quality and harming wildlife habitat. But the water-storage faithful ruled on Thursday at “Water, Jobs and the Economy,” a business rally to boost support for NISP…

    Featured speaker Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said that by 2020, water demand in the region will require another project the size of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, the region’s largest, which began delivering water in the late 1950s. “It’s time we stop talking and start working,” Gardner said. “Let’s get it done.”[...]

    On hand were the future owners of NISP — 15 municipalities and water districts that have stakes of varying sizes in the project.

    Their upfront costs already have been substantial, with more than $10 million spent on studies since the project was proposed, most of them required to satisfy state and federal regulatory agencies that have criticized the project, Wilkinson said…

    While many of the rally participants urged united — and bipartisan — support for the project, some noted that most elected officials who favor the project are Republicans, and most who oppose it are Democrats. “One of the worst things that could happen would be for this project to be about R’s, D’s and other labels,” said Eric Doering, mayor of NISP participant Frederick.

    More coverage from Monte Whaley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

    “We don’t get a thank-you card from Kansas or Nebraska when our water leaves the state,” said state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. The project calls for the Cache La Poudre River to be diverted during high-flow periods to fill two reservoirs, Glade northwest of Fort Collins and Galeton east of Ault. The project is estimated to cost about $490 million. NISP is backed by 15 water suppliers and 14 chambers of commerce. They say NISP is needed to bridge an advancing water-supply gap of between 190,000 and 630,000 acre-feet statewide by 2050…

    Several major farm organizations also support NISP. They contend that without NISP, more than 60,000 acres of Colorado farmland could dry up because cities will likely buy up agricultural water rights…

    NISP is still being studied by the Army Corps of Engineers, which might issue a supplemental draft environmental-impact study by the end of the year.

    More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

    [U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner] was one of more than a dozen speakers who addressed the crowd, estimated at about 300 attendees. He said Colorado jobs, its economy and future depends on the state’s ability to “store and deliver clean, affordable water.” He cited the vision of such water pioneers as W.D. Farr of Greeley and Wayne Aspinall, who represented Colorado’s 4th District in the U.S. House from 1947-73. “They captured the usefulness of our natural resources beyond imagination,” he said, noting the present generation is benefiting from their vision. He said the present generation must do the same for future generations, and he quoted Colorado poet laureate Thomas Hornsby Ferril who described Colorado as “a land written in water.”[...]

    The Weld commissioners closed the meeting with a chant of “Conserve water, build NISP.”

    Severance Mayor Don Brookshire was joined at the meeting by his 3-year-old daughter, Savannah. “This is why we are here today. Savannah is what this is all about,” Commissioner Sean Conway said.

    More coverage from NorthernColorado5.com. From the article:

    More than 200 supporters rallied today for the development of the Northern Integrated Supply Project which would store water in both the Glade and Galeton reservoirs. Participants and business leaders say that this project is critical to the future of the region.

    More coverage from the Northern Colorado Business Report:

    “It’s incumbent on each one of us here to get out and make NISP a reality,” said Eric Doering, mayor of Frederick, one of 15 cities, towns and water-related entities that have signed up to receive water from the project. NISP includes Glade Reservoir in Larimer County and Galeton Reservoir in Weld County. “It’s going to benefit all of our communities to grow jobs and maintain our ag resources for our farmlands,” Doering said.

    More coverage from Catherine Tsai writing for The Associated Press. From the article:

    A selection of mayors, state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., told supporters at The Ranch in Loveland that the project would help the region’s economy and shield farmers’ irrigation supplies as demand for drinking water grows, especially during droughts.

    The event had been billed as a barbecue, but it was raining, chilly and gray outside. “People in the water community look outside and say this is beautiful weather,” said Eric Wilkinson general manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

    The city of Fort Collins is among those that have expressed concerns with the project over the years, and the group Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper contends it would drain too much of the river. It proposes an alternative that relies heavily on water conservation and a proposal to pay farmers to fallow land on a rotating basis when needed and lease their water to cities.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project: The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry backs Northern Water’s proposed project

    May 16, 2011

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    Here’s the release from Northern Water (Brian Werner):

    The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), the state chamber of commerce, today announced its endorsement of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) as an essential project for the economy of the Northern Front Range. CACI President Chuck Berry said that the CACI Executive Committee agreed to support the building of NISP at its April meeting.

    “An adequate, reliable supply of water is essential for economic development and quality of life of residents of Northern Colorado,” Berry said, adding that NISP will be a major economic development opportunity for Northern Colorado and will result in more than $450 million in construction projects.

    NISP will provide 40,000 acre feet of water annually to 15 municipalities and water districts representing more than 200,000 residents in Northern Colorado.

    The CACI endorsement comes as NISP business supporters, chamber of commerce members and public officials gather May 19 to show their support for the project. The Water, Jobs and the Economy rally will be from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex at The Ranch in Loveland.

    CACI joins Club 20, the Western Slope’s leading business advocacy organization in endorsing NISP. Club 20 endorsed NISP in September 2010. More than 15 area and statewide business organizations have now endorsed NISP as critical for the Northern Colorado economy, including the following:

    Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce
    Carbon Valley Chamber of Commerce
    Club 20
    Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry
    Evans Chamber of Commerce
    Fort Collins Board of Realtors
    Fort Lupton Chamber of Commerce
    Greeley Chamber of Commerce
    Lafayette Chamber of Commerce

    Longmont Chamber of Commerce
    Mead Area Chamber of Commerce
    Progressive 15
    United Power
    Upstate Colorado
    Weld Community Development Group
    Weld County Builders Association
    Windsor Chamber of Commerce

    CACI was created in the mid-1960s when Colorado’s business leaders merged the Colorado Chamber of Commerce with the Colorado Manufacturing Association. About 435 companies, local chambers of commerce, trade associations and local economic development organizations belong to CACI. CACI’s mission is to champion a healthy business environment. To achieve this mission, CACI has key four objectives: (1) maintain and improve the cost of doing business; (2) advocate a pro-business state government; (3) increase the quantity of educated, skilled workers; and (4) strengthen Colorado’s critical infrastructure (roads, water, telecommunications and energy).

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project: Business rally May 19 in Loveland

    May 14, 2011

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    Here’s the release from Northern Water (Brian Werner):

    Colorado business leaders, chamber members, residents and public officials will gather May 19 to show their support for the Northern Integrated Supply Project. The Business Rally for NISP will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex at The Ranch in Loveland.

    U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner will be the keynote speaker at the event. The program will also include business owners, mayors from participating NISP communities, county commissioners, state legislators and Don Marostica, the former director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

    The rally, which is open to the public, will include a barbecue luncheon and an opportunity to discuss the proposed water storage project with participants and staff.

    “Water is and will continue to be vital in promoting the economy and jobs for Northern Colorado residents, and NISP is a critical piece of that,” said Kathy Peterson, Chairwoman of the NISP Participants Committee. “As the permitting process continues, we are grateful for the increasing support and endorsements from businesses and economic development groups.”

    NISP participants are 15 local and regional water districts and municipalities in Northern Colorado who are dedicated to providing current and future generations with sustainable and environmentally sound water supplies. Northern Water is coordinating the NISP on participants’ behalf…

    Additional information about NISP can be found at gladereservoir.org.

    More coverage from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

    Werner said the rally will tie NISP to the creation of jobs and the expansion of the local economy. “If we’re going to expand our economy, we have to have some water for it,” he said. The rally will be a chance for business owners who support the project but aren’t familiar with its details to learn more about it, he said.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    The Colorado Farm Bureau counters the claim from ‘Save the Poudre’ that the Northern Integrated Supply Project will harm agriculture

    April 28, 2011

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    Here’s a release from the Colorado Farm Bureau:

    Statement by Don Shawcroft, President, Colorado Farm Bureau, Regarding Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeepers ‘Farm Facts’ Report

    Alamosa rancher and Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft had strong words for Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeepers upon reading their ‘report’ on the impact of NISP on northern Colorado agriculture.

    “The so-called report is nothing but propaganda, spread by Save the Poudre in a vain attempt to derail the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). Save the Poudre does not speak for Colorado agriculture, an industry forthright and vocal in its support for NISP. Their attempts to divide the ag industry are tiresome. They speak only for themselves and their attempts to stall a project supported by large majorities of northern Colorado citizens.

    The NISP project is a crucial step in reducing the pressure from development on irrigated agriculture in Northern Colorado. Opponents of NISP would have us do nothing in the face of increasing water needs along the northern Front Range. Whether the Save the Poudre crowd likes it or not, more people are moving into the region served by the NISP participants. The project is a proactive, environmentally sound step to manage the growth along the Front Range and it will insure that irrigated farmers along the South Platte Basin will have access to their water for years to come.

    Colorado farmers and ranchers support the NISP project. Unlike the Poudre Waterkeepers, food producers in Colorado have been managing our states water resources for hundreds of years. If we support the development of a water project, you can bet it will help keep irrigated farmers on the land. The public knows this. Lawmakers know this. So does Gary Wockner and the rest of the Waterkeepers. They just won’t tell you that.”

    More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

    “There’s nothing new in the filing. We can tear each one of their claims apart. Where’s the science come from?” Brian Werner said Monday. He’s the spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which filed a detailed EIS report with the Corps more than five years ago. The Corps, in 2008, asked for additional comment, and Werner said it is hoped the final EIS will be released later this year or early next.

    In its filing, the Fort Collins group said if NISP is built, it would harm about 123,000 acres of agricultural land, or about one-sixth of all the irrigated land in northern Colorado. In addition, the group claims the project would accelerate the buy-up of farms for subdivision development, would accelerate salinization of productive croplands, would end most “free river” diversion opportunities and impact existing water users, and would submerge and divide productive agricultural land. It also says the initial filling of the two reservoirs and ongoing diversions into the two would likely come from northern Colorado and Western Slope farm water.

    “There has not been, to our knowledge, one farm organization that has come out in opposition to the project. In fact, most of them are in favor of it. This latest filing is nothing but garbage. It’s not based in reality. We can easily refute anything they have said,” Werner said.

    [ed. I'll be on radio AM 1310 in Greeley Thursday afternoon discussing surface water and Colorado's water supply gap sometime after 3:00 p.m.]

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project: A Save the Poudre report submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the project will have a deleterious effect on irrigated farmland in the basin

    April 25, 2011

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    From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

    Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper — a loud critic of the dam proposal — is asking the Army Corps to review the report as it considers a go-ahead permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project, also known as NISP…

    The report, “Farm Facts About NISP,” claims the project would cause a host of problems for about 123,000 acres of Colorado farm land. It would speed up the buy up and subdivision of irrigated farms in northern Colorado, accelerate salinization of productive crop lands, end most “free river” diversion opportunities and impact many existing water users and submerge and divide productive agriculture land, the report says. Also, the report says, the initial fill of 100,000-acre feet and the ongoing diversions into Glade and Galeton Reservoir are likely to come from agriculture water from northern Colorado and the Western Slope…

    NISP is backed by 14 northern Colorado water providers, who see the project as the best way to preserve water for Colorado farmland, Werner said. “Why else would the Farm Bureau and various ditch companies, support NISP?” Werner asked. “We’re pretty confident this project can stand on its own.”

    More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

    In its filing, the Fort Collins group said that if NISP is built, it would harm about 123,000 acres of agricultural land, or about one-sixth of all the irrigated land in northern Colorado. In addition, the group claims the project would accelerate the buy-up of farms for subdivision development; would accelerate salinization of productive crop lands; would end most “free river” diversion opportunities and impact existing water users; would submerge and divide productive agricultural land; and that the initial filling of the two reservoirs and on-going diversions into the two would likely come from northern Colorado and Western Slope farm water.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    Loveland: ‘Water, Jobs and the Economy Rally for NISP’ May 19

    April 19, 2011

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    From The Fort Morgan Times:

    A “Water, Jobs and the Economy Rally for NISP” (the Northern Integrated Supply Project) is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2011at the Ranch Courtyard at Budweiser Event Center, 5290 Arena Circle, Loveland…The event is sponsored by NISP participants, Northern Colorado’s chambers of commerce, regional economic development organizations, business and agriculture organizations.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    U.S. Representative Cory Gardner: ‘No technological advancement has ever had the singular power to transform society and economy like the application of water to dry land’

    April 11, 2011

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    Here’s a guest column from Representative Gardner running in the Sterling Journal Advocate. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s and excerpt:

    While new technologies have transformed the agricultural and urban landscapes over the past 100 years, no technological advancement has ever had the singular power to transform society and economy like the application of water to dry land. Visionary Coloradans Wayne Aspinall and W.D. Farr took leadership roles to create the infrastructure that waters our state today. Their work has stretched well beyond a generation, but as populations grow and demands increase, that work is now stretching thin. It is time for our generation to pick up the mantle and provide the water leadership for our future.

    Here’s guest column about the Northern Integrated Supply Project, from Eric Doering the mayor of Frederick running in The Greeley Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

    [The Northern Integrated Supply Project] is an integral part of the long-term health of our community and the other participants involved. It is the most proactive partnership to be seen by the communities and water districts and will result in an ability to meet the long-term needs of our population both current and future…

    Growth will continue in the Front Range communities along the Interstate 25 corridor. We must be poised to meet those growing demands of primary employers and others who desire to have their workforce live, work and play in the community in which they establish their businesses. The NISP participants are gathering support for this project from a varied group of individual and business leaders, as well as chambers of commerce and agricultural interests. To date, the participants have spent more than $9 million to work through review and design processes, and it is now with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to review and indicate whether the project can move forward. Many political leaders from both parties are supporting this project.

    Most of the largest communities along the North Front Range were foresighted many years ago to ensure their water portfolio and participated in projects similar to NISP. It is now time for Frederick, Erie, Firestone, Windsor, Dacono and other communities to have that same shared vision and commitment to adequate and reliable water for future use.

    More infrastructure coverage here.


    Poudre River watershed: ‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ final installment — public dialogue — April 11

    April 8, 2011

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    From the editorial staff of the Northern Colorado Business Report:

    The final public dialogue portion of the program will be held in two sessions in Fort Collins: Monday, April 11, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Timberline Church on South Timberline Road, and Saturday, April 16, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at The Drake Center on West Drake Road. These sessions, facilitated by CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation, will be where we all can discuss alternatives for Northern Colorado’s water future.

    To prepare for the public deliberation and to see recordings from previous sessions of The Poudre Runs Through It, go online to www.univercityconnections.org/.

    More Poudre River watershed coverage here.


    Northern Integrated Supply Project update

    March 28, 2011

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    From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Jackie Hutchins):

    Rena Brand, a regulatory specialist from the Corps of Engineers office in Littleton, updated people attending a regional water meeting (The Poudre Runs Through It) Thursday night about the status of the water project…

    Brand told those attending the Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future forum that her agency has taken the unusual step of doing some further study to create a supplemental draft environmental impact statement. When the document is finished, probably in December, it will be released to the public, and another round of public hearings will take place, she said. “So we still have a little ways to go.”[...]

    She said besides Army Corps of Engineers approval, the NISP project will need a water quality certificate from the state, Larimer County planning approval, and approvals from the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado Historical Society and Colorado Department of Transportation, which is involved because the proponent has proposed moving a highway to make room for Glade Reservoir.

    More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


    ‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ final session March 24

    March 19, 2011

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    From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

    The March 24 session will feature Rena Brand, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers is charged with reviewing applications for water storage projects. The session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Larimer County Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., in Fort Collins. Sponsored by UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, the sessions are aimed at educating Northern Colorado residents about water issues and the future of the region’s water supply.

    More Poudre River watershed coverage here.


    ‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

    February 6, 2011

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    From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

    Mary Lou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the Water Institute, said the main message of the forum was to get people with diverse opinions about the region’s water future talking together. “The message was it’s important for us to look at the various values we bring to the table when we look at the future of the water supply in this area,” she said. “We said how can we work together? That really set the tone.”[...]

    Smith said the purpose of the forum was not to push any particular agenda as to how the region’s future water needs should be met. One ongoing controversial water issue in the region is whether Glade Reservoir – a proposed new storage project- should be built just outside Poudre Canyon. Smith said Glade may or may not be part of the solution. “There’s a whole portfolio of solutions, including storage,” she said. “This isn’t about building Glade – it’s much broader than that. It’s about realizing there are trade-offs and helping the public better understand how water law works and forming educated opinions.”

    Three more educational sessions are set to continue the discussion on Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24. All three will be held in the Larimer Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.


    ‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

    February 4, 2011

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    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

    More than 300 people turned out Thursday night at the Larimer County office building in Old Town to consider the best ways to keep the various future needs of Poudre River water from being fodder for a fight as part of a UniverCity Connections-sponsored series of public forums called “The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future.”

    Author Laura Pritchett suggested people find “the radical center,” the place where those with sometimes drastically different ideas about the river can meet to civilly discuss their views and find solutions to the region’s water needs without fighting. The radical center, she said, should be that middle ground where people discover there isn’t just one solution for the water – either store it in Glade Reservoir or not at all. Those in the radical center, she said, seek to find a “portfolio” of solutions…

    The fundamental threat to the Poudre River is urban growth, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “Much of the future water demand will be right here in the Front Range corridor,” he said. “We haven’t as a society decided if we want to control that growth yet.”[...]

    Lynn Hall of Fort Collins said her biggest fear is losing the wildlife habitat along the Poudre River through the city. “To have a natural river with as much wildlife habitat as it has a few blocks from downtown is really a miracle,” she said. “We need to be really clear to figure out how we can make this accessible to humans, but not as an urban construction.”

    The second part of the series of forums will be three education sessions scheduled for Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24 at the Larimer County office building, 200 W. Oak St. Those will be followed by two public dialogue sessions on April 11 and 16.

    More coverage from the Rocky Mountain Collegian (Vashti Batjargal):

    The public forum served as a place for residents to discuss the value the Poudre River holds and how water should be allocated to each of the region’s competing needs. “We have a fixed resource and it’s all about trade-off,” said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute. “In everything we choose, we also choose not.”[...]

    George Reed, owner of 62 acres of land 10 miles north of Fort Collins, said he’d like a reservoir. “We could learn a lesson from the squirrels: You have to put some water away,” Reed said. “I’ve never seen a reservoir I didn’t like.”[...]

    The forum was designed to get community input for decisions on water distribution and conservation for growth and agricultural needs. CSU associate professor of history Mark Fiege said the decisions the community will ultimately make concerning water distribution will have an effect on future generations. “It will impose a burden and responsibility that we cannot fully predict,” he said.

    More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

    The initial session turnout surprised organizers, but only a small percentage of the crowd offered public comment. Organizers, including UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, collected comments from the crowd as they left. Those comments will be compiled and used at educational sessions later this year. MaryLou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the CSU Colorado Water Institute, said the sessions were conceived as a city of Fort Collins event, but she realized, from the turnout, that other communities along the 126-mile stretch of the river should also be included.

    Reagan Waskom, director of the water institute at CSU, said the Poudre River, as well as others in northern Colorado, face serious demands in the future. Much of those demands will come from expected growth along the Front Range. To meet those demands, he said, an additional 500,000 to 800,000 acre feet of water a year will be needed; an acre-foot of water is considered enough to supply two families with a year’s supply of water. The annual flow of the Poudre is about 275,000 acre feet…

    Tom Moore is a local farmer and business owner who said cities in the area are willing to pay $10,000 an acre-foot for water. “It’s hard to put an agricultural value of one-third that,” he said, adding it is the quality of water in the region that draw people and businesses.

    More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.


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