Larimer County residents question environmental impact of #NISP during public hearing — The Loveland Reporter-Herald

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Max Levy):

Second round of comments scheduled for Aug. 31

Larimer County residents weighed in on the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project on Monday, with the majority of dozens of speakers asking the county commissioners not to grant a 1041 permit for the $1.1 billion effort…

Members of the public mostly focused on the environmental impacts of the project, which would build two reservoirs capable of holding close to 216,000 acre feet of water on the dime of the 15 area water providers that could benefit, including the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District.

John Shenot of the Fort Collins Audubon Society brought up the group’s work to have the local stretch of the Poudre recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, meaning it includes areas such as nesting grounds, migratory stopovers or other essential habitats for at least one species of bird.

He called Glade Reservoir, which would tap into the Poudre River near the mouth of Poudre Canyon, an “existential threat” to bird habitats…

Another speaker, Larimer County alfalfa farmer Ken McCullough, said his opinion on the project turned when he learned that some of the water to be stored in Glade would be purchased from farms.

He questioned whether the project would take needed irrigation water from area farmers…

While the project has purchased Poudre River water from farms, that water has been exchanged for South Platte water, so it is not “buy-and-dry.”

Although the majority of speakers opposed the project, at least one man, Joe Rowan, who described himself as a longtime Fort Collins resident spoke in favor, describing the opposition as “sanctimonious rancor” and “ill-advised hyperbole.”

He located NISP in more than a century of water transfer and storage projects on the Cache la Poudre watershed.

“There would be no discussion of preserving habitat and sensitive ecological systems were water storage projects not pursued by prior generations,” Rowan said.

He also pointed out that county staff have recommended approval of the permit, and said commissioners deciding based on the input of some rather than the requirements of the permitting process would be the same as intimidation.

“We simply can’t be expected to self-govern if the loudest and most vitriolic of our fellow residents are allowed to cower elected representatives into submission,” Rowan said.

Others said the project would benefit communities outside of Larimer County, while county residents would bear the majority of the adverse impacts, particularly from the construction of Glade Reservoir west of Fort Collins.

David Jones, a vegetation ecologist at Colorado State University who stated he has been following the NISP project for more than a decade, said the project was “not in the interest of the vast majority of Larimer County residents.”

[…]

The next public comment session is scheduled for Aug. 31, and the commissioners are expected to make a decision on Sept. 2.

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