From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Dougan):
An environmental review of the proposed expansion of a Fort Collins reservoir is moving forward with its separation from a Greeley water project.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to consider the city’s proposal to more than double the storage capacity of Halligan Reservoir as a separate project rather than in combination with Greeley’s proposal to enlarge its Seaman Reservoir.
Both reservoirs are on the North Fork of the Poudre River. The projects have been combined under the Corps’ review process since 2006, when the cities formally proposed enlarging the reservoirs to meet future water demand.
The projects were combined because their operations were expected to be coordinated in order to impact on the river as little as possible, said Donnie Dustin, water resources manager with Fort Collins Utilities.
As part of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, process required by federal regulations, alternatives to the proposed expansions must be considered by the Corps.
Fort Collins has its alternatives lined up and ready while Greeley needs more time to develop its alternatives, Dustin said.
“The benefit of separation is Fort Collins gets to move forward without waiting for Greeley,” he said. “And Greeley gets to take their time to reassess alternatives with the Corps for their project. Both projects benefit.”
A draft EIS for the Halligan is expected to be released in spring 2016, Dustin said.
Halligan Reservoir is about 100 years old. Its capacity is about 6,400 acre feet of water…
The city’s current request is to add 8,125 acre feet to the reservoir by raising its dam about 25 feet, Dustin said.
Fort Collins has requested the expansion to shore up its water supply to protect against drought.
The city needs the increased storage capacity “now,” Dustin said. Greeley does not plan to expand Seaman Reservoir for several years.
“Just given where we are right now, it just didn’t make sense to stay together,” he said.
The Halligan-Seaman project initially included the cities in partnership with the North Poudre Irrigation Co. as well as the Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts, also know as the Tri-Districts.
The water providers proposed expanding Halligan by 40,000 acre feet. The Tri-Districts withdrew from the project in 2009 citing mounting costs and a lack or progress on the environmental studies.
North Poudre withdrew in 2014 for the over the same concerns.
So far, costs related to the permitting process have reached $7.7 million, with Fort Collins paying about $4.5 million, officials said.
More Cache la Poudre River coverage here.