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

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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 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.

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