Northern Integrated Supply Project: Property Rights Foundation of the West meeting recap

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John Brennan):

“The region looks a lot better in 30 years with this project than without it,” said Eric Wilkinson, general manager of Northern. If NISP is not built, another 60,000 acres of agricultural land would be “dried up,” Wilkinson said. “It would accelerate ‘buy and dry,’” he said, referring to the practice of large cities buying ag land and shutting down wells. “Buy and dry would continue in some cases, but not as much as with NISP.”[…]

Area farmer Gene Kammerzell noted the estimated total cost of about $426 million and the target date of 2025 for completion of NISP, and wondered why Northern was not pursuing ways to reopen wells in the South Platte basin. Alan Berryman, assistant general manage for NCWCD’s engineering division, said many legal constraints exist on the use of wells, and well users would also have to augment what they pump. To match the yield of NISP with ground water, Wilkinson noted, a “firm” supply of 40,000 acre-feet of augmentation water would be needed. And while NISP would use existing canals for much of the moving of water, most alternatives would require an extensive — and expensive — system of pipelines, pumps and other equipment. The quality of groundwater compared to river water is also an issue, Wilkinson said. Well water would need a lot of treatment, he noted, and a percentage of water is lost during the treatment process. “That means you would have to overbuild your project in that regard,” Wilkinson said. Berryman also noted that the cost of NISP is “in line with the cost people are paying for water today.” Werner added that being a participant in NISP “would be an asset — a very valuable asset — that Fort Morgan and Quality Water would own.” As for other alternatives, one audience member noted that a long-ago plan for the Harden Dam could be resurrected, but Wilkinson said on-stream dams are not going to be approved for the foreseeable future. Wilkinson noted that drying up agricultural land for domestic water is being pursued by some Front Range cities because doing so avoids the need for a federal permit, which is what has delayed the NISP project for so long.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

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