Halligan Reservoir: 3 water districts quit expansion project

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Here’s a report from Kevin Duggan writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The expense of an ongoing environmental analysis of the proposed expansion has driven the Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts away from the $60 million project. In letters sent to city officials, the water districts noted a 2004 agreement authorizing the environmental analysis, which is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive a permit for the project, would cost no more than $4 million. So far, more than $5 million has been spent on the analysis by participating entities and “it appears little progress, if any, has been made in the planning and environmental review for permitting the project,” the districts wrote.

Backing away from the project is primarily a financial decision, said Mike Scheid, manager of the East Larimer County, or ELCO, Water District. The district serves a portion of northeast Fort Collins and areas of unincorporated Larimer County…

Another concern of the districts is an apparent lack of support for the project among some Fort Collins City Council members, said Mike DiTullio, general manager of the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District. The district covers part of south for Fort Collins. During a recent study session on the project, some council members questioned the size and need for the expansion, which would almost triple the size of the reservoir to 40,000 acre feet…

Fort Collins officials say they will continue with the Corps’ environmental impact statement process, although they are reviewing options such as reducing the size of the proposed expansion to about 20,000 acre feet. The reservoir’s current capacity is 6,500 acre feet…

With the Tri-Districts out, the city’s remaining partner is the North Poudre Irrigation Co., which owns the water stored in Halligan. The city owns the property covered by the facility and the right to expand. Of the $5.3 million spent on the project, about $2.3 million has been in payments to North Poudre for the Halligan site, city officials say. North Poudre manager Steve Smith said the irrigation company plans to stick with the project and the permitting process.

The Corps is conducting a combined environmental impact statement, or EIS, process on Halligan and Milton Seaman Reservoir, which is owned by the city of Greeley. A draft EIS on the proposals is expected to be complete by early 2011, said Chandler Peter, project manager with the Corps. Much of the technical analysis of the project is already complete, Peter said. With the Tri-Districts out of the project, the Corps will examine the viability of alternative projects that might require less water. How much more the EIS process will cost participants is not clear, Peter said. The process has been extended, in part, by the Corps’ decision to use a “common technical platform” for all water projects proposed for the Poudre River basin, including the controversial Northern Integrate Water Supply Project, or NISP, proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

“Whoever wants to drain, divert or dam the Poudre needs to understand it’s not going to be fast, cheap or easy,” [Gary Wockner, Colorado program manager for the environmental group Clean Water Action] said.

More Halligan-Seaman expansion coverage here and here.

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