NISP: Fort Morgan is planning (and budgeting) for new supplies from the project

Northern Integrated Supply Project preferred alternative
Northern Integrated Supply Project preferred alternative

From the Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

Fort Morgan’s stake in NISP is 9 percent, with the city having invested around $1 million so far. And much more would need to flow from city coffers toward the project before it is all built, according to Nation.

The city has budgeted $90,000 for that purpose for 2014, and planned water rate increases are likely this year and in 2015 to start preparing for needing to contribute even larger amounts toward the project in coming years, he said.

“That’s just kind of where we’re at,” Nation said. “We need to be prepared for when we’re ready for construction.”

Right now, the plan calls for preliminary construction activities to start in 2018 and 2019, he said.

And while the costs to the city may seem astronomical, Nation quickly puts the numbers in perspective:

• Each unit of C-BT water that the city buys right now costs $18,500, a number that keeps rising.

• One C-BT unit is 7/10 of an acre foot of water, and each acre foot is going for $26,000 currently.

• But because of the city’s participation in NISP, the city will have water for about $12,500 per acre foot.

“We’re investing in something that will give us water at $12,500 an acre foot versus $26,000 an acre foot,” Nation said…

Getting the project built is a complicated process, and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, aka Northern Water, is working its way through that process, according to Nation.

During the environmental review process, the engineers for Northern Water have been gathering up data for technical reports, which they soon will pass on to the Army Corps of Engineers for the project’s updated draft environmental impact statement.

The Corps is the lead federal agency for the Northern Integrated Supply Project’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, which aims “to help public officials make decisions based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment,” according to a press release from Northern Water.

The process of putting together the environmental impact statement helps the Corps make a final decision ultimately on whether to issue a permit to build NISP.

The environmental impact statement process for NISP started in August 2004, which led to an initial draft being released for public comment in April 2008, according to Northern Water.

In February 2009, the Corps had announced they would move forward with a supplemental draft environmental impact statement “to include additional studies primarily centered around hydrologic and flow modeling,” the press release stated.

Also helping with the environmental impact statement process are the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Larimer County, according to Northern Water…

With all of the technical reports due to the Corps by Dec. 23, Nation said work on the supplemental draft environmental impact statement could begin “right after the first of the year.”

Once the Corps has all the updated technical data, both from the project’s supporters and objectors, a draft report is put together and then made public. Then there would be public hearings and comment periods.

“We should be getting the draft environmental impact statement taken care of yet this coming calendar year, possibly by summer 2014,” Nation said.

The final environmental impact statement would then be completed in spring 2015 with a final permit decision “due in fall 2016,” according to Northern Water.

But just getting further into the environmental impact statement process shows progress, Nation said.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

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