From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):
City officials learned this week that North Poudre Irrigation Co., which owns the storage capacity of the existing reservoir, is backing out of the permitting process for the proposed enlargement of the reservoir northwest of the city. The move likely will increase Fort Collins’ costs for building the project, if it is approved by federal regulators, by about $1 million to an estimated $31 million, said Donnie Dustin, water resources manager with Fort Collin Utilities.
The irrigation company has seen little progress on the project during the nearly 10 years it has been going through an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre.
“For as much money as the company was putting into the project, the board came to the opinion that some of that money could be going to some of our infrastructure needs and upgrades,” Hummer said. “It was a business decision.”
The Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts, also known as the Tri-Districts, cited the same reasons when they withdrew from the project in 2009…
North Poudre has put $1.8 million toward the permitting process over the years, said Nels Nelson, president of the irrigation company’s board of directors.
Initially, the cost of the environmental review, which covers the proposed Halligan expansion and a proposal by Greeley to expand Seaman Reservoir, was expected to be $4 million. Costs related to the process have reached $7.3 million, with Fort Collins paying about $3.7 million, officials said…
Halligan Reservoir is on the North Fork of the Poudre River. The 6,500-acre foot reservoir is about 100 years old.
Originally, partners in the project were seeking to expand the reservoir to 40,000 acre feet. But the size of the project has been reduced to about half after the Tri-Districts withdrew and Fort Collins’ water use changed with increased conservation efforts.
With North Poudre out of the project, the expansion will be resized again to match the smaller requirement, said Kevin Gertig, city water resources and treatment operations manager.
How the change will affect the review process is not known, he said. A draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Halligan-Seaman project is expected to be released in fall 2015.
“Fort Collin Utilities is committed to moving ahead with the project unless, of course, the City Council directs us otherwise,” Gertig said.
The city needs to acquire 8,125 acre feet of water storage capacity to meet its needs and protect against drought, Gertig said.