Northern Integrated Supply Project update: ‘The NISP project really fits like a glove on our water portfolio for the future’ — said Doug Short (Lafayette)

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Breanna Draxler):

“The NISP project really fits like a glove on our water portfolio for the future,” said Doug Short, the public works director in Lafayette. The city is trying to diversify its water supply to prevent vulnerability from dependence on a single source, especially considering the unknown future impacts of climate change, Short said.

The proposed supply project would include two reservoirs, two pump plants and a series of pipelines aimed at providing water for the growing population east of the Rockies. “One way or another we’re going to need additional water,” said Brian Werner, of Northern Water, the organization proposing the project…

The proposed project would increase Northern Water’s storage capacity so it could collect more water in wet years, like last year, to be used in dry years, like this year. “We’re there for those dry times,” Werner said, equating Northern Water to a water supply savings account.

The proposed Glade Reservoir would store water from the Cache la Poudre River. Its location northwest of Fort Collins would require the relocation of seven miles of U.S. 287. The second proposed water storage facility, Galeton Reservoir, would be located northeast of Greeley and would collect water diverted from the South Platte River…

In addition to the economic costs, opponents fear environmental degradation related to the project. Laura Belanger, a water resources and environmental engineer at Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, said diverting water from the rivers will be detrimental to the riparian ecosystems. “There will be no peak flows left in the Poudre River,” Belanger said.

Peak flows provide habitat and spawning areas for wildlife, she said, as well as move sediment and remove vegetation. “If you remove peak flows from a stream system, that stream system can’t survive,” Belanger said…

Belanger commended Northern Water and the project’s participating communities for their conservation efforts and outreach, and she said that these savings should be considered a larger portion of future water supplies. But Northern Water is unconvinced that it will be enough. Limiting water projects will not limit growth, Werner said. “We can’t conserve our way to future supply,” he said.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

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