Conservationists worry that impacts to the Upper Colorado River basin have not been adequately addressed in the final EIS for the Windy Gap Firming Project

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From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

…watchdog groups aren’t satisfied that the impact of the water-storage project on fish and wildlife habitat on the Western Slope has been adequately addressed. The report details how Chimney Hollow will increase diversions and reduce flows in the Colorado River below the Windy Gap reservoir, decrease some fish habitat and affect vegetation, wetlands and wildlife. “We have very serious concerns about this project and its intersection with projects and participants in the Poudre River watershed as well as its potential negative impacts on the Colorado River and Grand Lake,” said Save the Poudre executive director Gary Wockner…

Northern Water — the agency coordinating the project on behalf of 13 Front Range cities and water utilities — says it is working with other groups and agencies to mitigate the impact of the project. “In our minds, we have addressed the impacts, and we have gone through a long public process … to develop measures to protect fish and wildlife,” said project manager Jeff Drager.

More coverage from the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

The FEIS states that the best course of action, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, is to construct Chimney Hollow Reservoir, a proposed 90,000 acre-foot reservoir southwest of Loveland. The construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir is the project’s key feature and would increase the reliability of the existing Windy Gap project, which started delivering water to Front Range municipalities in 1985…

The FEIS was the last document in the Windy Gap project’s National Environmental Policy Act review. The project is now awaiting an official decision from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which is expected in early 2012.

Participants in the project include: Platte River Power Authority, Broomfield, Erie, Greeley, Longmont, Louisville, Loveland, Evans, Superior, Lafayette and Fort Lupton, Weld County Water District and Little Thompson Water District.

More Windy Gap coverage here and here.

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