Windy Gap Firming Project update: Chimney Hollow Reservoir could get a green light for construction later this year

chimneyhollowreservoirsite01042012

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The reservoir, which would sit southwest of Loveland, is intended to shore up the water supplies of a dozen Front Range communities and water districts as well as Platte River Power Authority. An initial decision on its future is expected this year, possibly by summer.

The reservoir also would provide access to nonmotorized boating and miles of trails expected to be built on 1,800 acres of adjacent Chimney Hollow Open Space managed by the Larimer County Natural Resources Department. The open space is part of the larger Blue Mountain Conservation Area.

Chimney Hollow Reservoir would sit directly west of Carter Lake on the other side of a towering hogback formation. With the two reservoirs about a half-mile apart, the area is expected to attract a variety of recreation enthusiasts, said Kerri Rollins, manager of the county’s open lands program…

Its main purpose is to provide water storage for its participating entities, said Dana Strongin, communications specialist with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, or Northern Water, which would build the project. The participants already own rights to the water, which would be drawn from the Colorado River and conveyed to the Front Range through existing facilities of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. But they have no way to store the water for use during dry years…

After years of studies and public debate required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the federal Bureau of Reclamation late last year released a final environmental impact statement for the project that looks at various options. A record of decision, which would designate the preferred option and the steps that must be taken for it to be approved — such as mitigating its impact on wildlife — is expected later this year. The decision could come by summer, Strongin said…

The reservoir would be created with the construction of a 350-foot-tall dam on the north side of the valley and a smaller structure on the south. Underground pipes would carry water in and out of the reservoir. Chimney Hollow would be slightly smaller than Carter Lake. Building the project would cost about $270 million, Strongin said. Going through the environmental review process has already cost about $9 million.

More Windy Gap coverage here and here.

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