Cache la Poudre: Fish ladder coming to the Poudre River at Watson Lake — #Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Construction begins on Cache la Poudre River for fish ladder near Watson Lake. Photo credit: Jason Clay/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

CPW partners with noosa yoghurt, Northern Water and Morning Fresh Dairy on project

[In December 2018] a project [broke ground] that will help reconnect a fragmented Poudre River.

In a collaborative effort, Morning Fresh Dairy, Northern Water and noosa yoghurt are partnering with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to put in a fish ladder at the Watson Lake Diversion. They hope this will be one of many ladders along the Poudre River that will allow fish to travel freely, improving the health of the fishery and the ecosystem.

This Watson Lake fish ladder will reconnect over two river miles. The stretch contains important spawning habitat and deep pools that provide refuge for aquatic life.

Watson Lake Diversion Structure is a channel spanning structure that represents a complete barrier to all upstream fish movement in the Poudre River. The structure delivers water to Watson State Fish Hatchery and is owned and operated by CPW.

“We appreciate the collaboration from the project partners on this important fishway that will reconnect over two miles of stream habitat for the aquatic species,” said Kyle Battige, aquatic biologist for CPW. “Supporting fish passage at Watson Lake aligns with CPW’s goal through improving several facets: ecosystem health, angler access, public safety and public education.”

Designed by OneFish Engineering, the fish ladder will provide upstream fish movement through the diversion structure for all species present within the river reach including longnose dace, longnose suckers, white suckers, brown trout and rainbow trout. The State Wildlife Area and Hatchery, where this project is located, receives a lot of visitors whether they are fishermen, birders, or families enjoying nature. Onsite educational material discussing fish passage will be an important component of the project providing a learning experience for school children and all other visitors.

“The Poudre River has been an integral part of our family farm for over 100 years. We would like to be part of the solution for fish passage along the Poudre River, starting at Watson Lake,” says Rob Graves, owner of Morning Fresh Dairy and co-founder of noosa yoghurt. “We would like to find additional community partners and reconnect the river from Fort Collins all the way up through the Poudre Canyon.”

The new fish ladder also fulfills one of the promises made by the participants of the Northern Integrated Supply Project to improve the Poudre River, outlined in the NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan.

“This project shows the commitment of project participants to address the overall health of the Poudre River,” said spokesman Jeff Stahla. He noted that participants have committed to spending $50 million on a state of Colorado Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan that includes minimum daily flows on the Poudre River through downtown Fort Collins, the construction of fish bypasses and other measures throughout the area

The project started in December 2018 and will be completed in March 2019 before spring runoff begins on the Poudre River. One of the goals is to help move other fish passage projects forward on the Poudre River. Local ditch companies will be able to observe one of these projects first-hand and see that there is no negative impact to water delivery. This will be an important resource to move fish passage initiatives forward with other diversion structures.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Morning Fresh Dairy
Stephanie Giard
970.402.8982
Stephanie@ForwardComs.com

Northern Water
Brian Werner
970-622-2229
bwerner@northernwater.org

Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Jason Clay
303-829-7143
jason.clay@state.co.us

noosa yoghuer
Stephanie Giard
970.402.8982
Stephanie@ForwardComs.com

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

@Northern_Water Winter Water Efficiency Stakeholder Meeting set for January 15, 2019

Irrigation sprinklers run over a farm in Longmont in the South Platte River basin. Photo credit: Lindsay Fendt/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from Northern Water:

Northern Water allottees and other water efficiency partners within our delivery area are invited to join us on Jan. 15 in Berthoud.

The 2019 Winter Water Efficiency Stakeholder Meeting – which will take place at Northern Water’s headquarters (220 Water Ave. in Berthoud), and run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. – serves as an opportunity for all to learn and share innovative tools, techniques and policies needed for identifying, structuring and financing efficiency projects.

Our goal is to equip you with options to plan for and implement water efficiency, and attendees will also have the opportunity to share projects they have underway. We hope this will be a fun, informative and collaborative event. A schedule of the day’s events is listed below.

Lunch will be provided.

Be sure to RSVP by Jan. 8, which you can do by clicking here.
If you have any questions, please contact Lyndsey Lucia at llucia@northernwater.org, or at (970) 622-2342.

Windsor is looking at buying into the Windy Gap Firming Project

Windsor Lake/Mummy Range

From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

But as the [town board] looks at other plans to add water, it could introduce higher rate increases, higher fees for developers — or a combination of both. It just depends on the projects Windsor participates in.

As the town grows, it’s looking at ways to prepare for an increase in water use. Among the recommendations Windsor Water Resource Manager John Thornhill presented to the board is to look at joining Windy Gap Firming Project and maintain participation the Northern Integrated Supply Project — both massive water supply projects managed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Windsor is one of 15 northern Colorado communities already planning participating in NISP, which is also managed by Northern Water.

The project, which would also impact Evans, would provide 40,000 acre-feet of raw water to all of the participants — enough for 80,000 families. Of that, Windsor would get 3,300 acre-feet of water, 8.25 percent of the total project.

Still, town officials project that Windsor will need to supply 15,803 acre-feet of water in the future. That leaves the town with an 8,731 acre-foot gap in the total amount of water the town is currently has plans for — including NISP — and what officials know they will need in the future.

In addition to participating in the Northern Water projects, Thornhill recommended budgeting money for water conservation, as well as acquiring new water from other providers in the region, such as the North Weld County Water District.

As it stands now, Windsor’s treatable water supply comes from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, a Northern Water project that delivers more than 200,000 acre feet of water each year to 960,000 people in the eight counties it serves.

@Northern_Water fall water users meeting recap

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

From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

The Northern Integrated Supply Project and the Windy Gap Firming Project, both projects managed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, have been decades in the making, and once they’re complete, they’ll result in three new reservoirs intended to address a growing Front Range population.

During the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s fall water users meeting Wednesday in Fort Collins, officials took an audience through the progress of both projects.

The Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would affect Windsor and Evans, hit a major milestone in July after an Environmental Impact Statement was released.

“In 2019, we’re hoping for a really big, exciting year, in addition to the really big year we had this year,” said Stephanie Cecil, water resources project engineer for Northern Water.

The Windy Gap Firming Project, which would affect Greeley, is moving forward even as the project has been hit with a federal lawsuit.

In July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final Environmental Impact Statement on the project — a process that took 14 years.

“It’s a really significant step in the project to be able to have all of those things done,” Cecil said.

Right now, the group is focused on design, particularly for the Glade Reservoir and the Galeton Reservoir. One pressing step in the project will be to relocate a section of U.S. 287 to allow for construction of the reservoir.

Additionally, the organization is working on mitigation projects, including one to help pass fish though a diversion structure and measure the amount of water the group is handling.

The group is also working on permitting with counties and the state, and developing a financing plan.

“How is this over $1 billion project going to be financed, and how is the construction schedule going to line up with the financing plan?” Cecil asked.

Construction could start by 2021, Cecil said, and the projects that will likely get started first are the Glade Reservoir and the U.S. 287 relocation. Cecil said the group hopes that the reservoir will be filled in 2026 and able to serve water in 2030.

“We’re looking at about a five-year timeline, but it’s dependent on weather,” she said. “Hopefully by 2026, we’ll have some really wet years and we can fill it really fast.”

[…]

A graphic from Northern Water showing the lay out of Windy Gap Firming Project.

The Windy Gap Firming Project, a collaboration between 12 northern Colorado water providers, including Greeley, will result in a new reservoir — the 90,000 acre-foot Chimney Hollow Reservoir — and the largest dam on the Front Range.

When it’s complete, the project intends to make water supplies more reliable by installing the reservoir west of Carter Lake in Larimer County.

For the past year, the project has been in the middle of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against federal agencies. The lawsuit questions the need for the project, saying it would make significant water diversions from the Colorado River, and that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Crops of Engineers did not have enough information before they issued initial permits to the district.

Still, Jeff Drager, director of engineering for Northern Water, said the project hasn’t been stalled by the lawsuit, especially because funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service requires the group to use the money within the next five years…

Right now, the project is in the permitting process. So far, the organization has $11 million and is seeking ways to fund the final $4 million…

The project has been in the process of permitting the project for 15 years, Drager said…

Drager said the group hopes to start construction in 2021 or 2022.

The latest e-Waternews is hot off the presses from @Northern_Water

Workers place pipeline as part of the Southern Water Supply Project II now under construction in Boulder County. Photo credit: Northern Water

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Construction begins on Southern Water Supply Project II

Crews from Garney Construction have started work on a new pipeline project to bring reliable water supplies to four water providers in Boulder and Larimer counties.

Called the Southern Water Supply Project II, the pipeline will deliver additional Colorado-Big Thompson Project and Windy Gap Project water from Carter Lake to the city of Boulder, town of Berthoud, Left Hand Water District and the Longs Peak Water District.

The $44 million project includes more than 20 miles of steel pipe that will improve water quality and at some portions of the year will act as the primary source of raw water for the project’s participants.

Officials estimate the project will be complete in early 2020.

Click here for more information, including an interactive map of the pipeline route.

@Northern_Water turns dirt on Southern Water Supply Project

Southern Water Supply Project

From The Longmont Times-Call (Sam Lounsberry):

Work on the pipeline, known as phase two of the Southern Water Supply Project, is being overseen by Northern Water, which manages Carter Lake as part of the Colorado Big-Thompson Project.

Once complete, the pipeline will improve water quality and delivery reliability compared to the open, above-ground Boulder Feeder Canal that currently brings water from Carter Lake to Boulder Reservoir.

The new pipeline will pump 50 cubic feet per second of Colorado-Big Thompson and Windy Gap Project water, with Boulder receiving the bulk of the water among participants at the Boulder Reservoir Water Treatment plant, the pipeline’s terminus.

Boulder will receive 32 cubic feet per second and bear $32 million of the cost, according to city spokeswoman Gretchen King, while Left Hand Water District — which serves a 130-square-mile area between Longmont and Boulder — will receive 12 cubic feet per second and pay about $8 million for its share of the project…

Left Hand will have another $2 million of cost from the district’s addition of a hydroelectric generator at the intersection of the new Southern Water Supply pipeline and the entrance to the district’s Dodd Water Treatment Plant. The generator will produce enough power to satisfy about a third of the plant’s electricity need, according to district Manager Christopher Smith…

Berthoud and Longs Peak Water District — which serves Boulder and Weld County residents in an area north of Longmont — will each receive 3 cubic feet per second, but on Thursday officials from the town and district could not to provide their share of the costs of the remaining $4 million for the project.

Smith noted the pipeline, which has an estimated completion date of March 2020, will not only further protect water quality, but also will allow year-round water delivery to Left Hand Water District’s Dodd Water Treatment Plant…

“During some portions of the year the pipeline will act as the primary source of raw water for the participants in the project,” the Northern Water release states.

Currently, the Boulder Feeder Canal is offline from Oct. 31 to April 1 annually, Smith said. When the canal is down, so, too, is the Dodd Water Treatment Plant…

When the pipeline is complete, the Dodd Plant will be open year-round.

The first 12 miles of new pipeline, from Carter Lake to St. Vrain Road in Longmont, will parallel the existing Southern Water Supply Project pipeline, which was runs to Broomfield and was completed in 1999.

From St. Vrain Road, the new pipeline will continue south to the Boulder Reservoir Treatment Plant.

Front Range water group pushes back project that would pull from #ColoradoRiver, citing lawsuit — @AspenJournalism #COriver

A view of the location of the proposed Chimney Hollow dam and reservoir site in the foothills between Loveland and Longmont. The 90,000 acre-foot reservoir would store water for nine Front Range cities, two water districts and a utility, and is being held up a lawsuit challenging federal environmental reviews. Graphic credit: Brent Gardner-Smith

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

The Front Range water district that wants to build the Chimney Hollow Reservoir and pull more water from the Colorado River is delaying construction bids and issuing revenue bonds, citing a lawsuit by Save the Colorado, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups challenging federal approvals for the project.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District had hoped to have the project, now estimated at $570 million, under construction by early 2019 and completed by 2023, but now it is uncertain when construction will begin because of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver late last year.

“Our original schedule was to be out to bid about right now and we would be selling bonds right now,” Jeff Drager, Northern’s director of engineering, said earlier this month.

Chimney Hollow Reservoir is at the core of what’s known as the Windy Gap Firming Project. Northern, through its affiliated municipal subdistrict, plans to build the 90,000 acre-foot reservoir to provide a “firm annual yield” of 30,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to nine Front Range cities, two water districts and a utility.

About 9,000 acre-feet a year of additional water is expected to be diverted from the headwaters of the Colorado River as a result of the project.

The 346-foot-tall dam, which would be the third tallest in Colorado, is located between Loveland and Longmont in Larimer County next to an existing reservoir, Carter Lake.

Drager said since the litigation was filed last year Northern has taken the opportunity to do more engineering and design work on the dam, including the upcoming drilling of 40 holes to further explore softer rock found at the location of the left abutment of the dam.

“We’re now scheduled to be at a point where we could go out to bid for construction and issue bonds probably in February or March,” he said.

But at that point Drager said Northern would have to see what progress has been made in the lawsuit.

“If I had to guess,” he said, “I’d say we’ll be slowed down.”

The parties in the lawsuit are waiting for the judge in the case to rule on if the voluminous administrative record in the case is complete, including on a motion to add a recent report commissioned by Save the Colorado on actual water use, and if motions to intervene in the case by Northern, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the city of Broomfield will be accepted…

The lawsuit contends that a review of the proposed project by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers under the National Environmental Policy Act was flawed and that the resulting approvals should be overturned.

The federal review of the project began 2003. Reclamation issued its approval in 2014 and the Corps issued its approval in May 2017.

Five nonprofit environmental groups filed a lawsuit in October, including Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, Living Rivers, the Waterkeeper Alliance and WildEarth Guardians. The Colorado chapter of the Sierra Club joined the lawsuit in November.

“The Windy Gap Firming Project is an apt example of inadequate analysis and poor decision-making that will ultimately result in significant new diversions from the Colorado River to provide the Front Range with unneeded water supply,” the environmental groups told the court in a recent brief.

The delay in issuing bonds means that the 12 entities paying for the project will have to contribute $10 million in cash to allow Northern to keep the project moving forward, instead of using money expected to be available after selling municipal bonds. The 12 entities have put in $34 million to date toward the project.

“We had hoped that our funding for 2019 was going to come from sale of the bonds and starting construction, but because of the litigation that we have, that’s delayed a little bit,” Drager told Northern’s board of directors at a meeting in Berthoud on August 9. “That $10 million will be provided by the participants in early 2019 and that should carry us through, we hope, until we are ready to put the project out to bid and sell the bonds to pay the rest of the cost.”

Northern owns and operates the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which includes the huge Lake Granby Reservoir and the Adams Tunnel that sends over 200,000 acre-feet of water of Colorado River each year under Rocky Mountain National Park to the east slope.

The C-BT Project also diverts water pumped up from the relatively small 445-acre-foot Windy Gap Reservoir, built in the early 1980s to serve as a pumping forebay on the Colorado River, just below its confluence with the Fraser River in Grand County.

But Windy Gap is limited in how much water it can deliver because of its junior water rights and instream-flow obligations below the dam.

Northern says Chimney Hollow Reservoir will allow it to pump water from Windy Gap in wetter years and store the water until needed in drier years by the 12 participating entities, which include Broomfield, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland.

But the environmental groups say the federal agencies reviewed the proposed project with an overly narrow focus on how to fix the Windy Gap project and not on other potential ways to meet Front Range water demands.

“Reclamation did not seriously consider reasonable alternatives to provide water to Windy Gap participants and allowed (Northern) to plow ahead with its original choice — the firming project — and double down on its busted bet,” the lawsuit states.

Reclamation and the Corps told the court in May that the agencies conducted “an independent evaluation” and concluded the project “is needed to meet a portion of the existing and future water needs of the growing east slope municipalities.”

Northern, on its website, points out “the project has been approved by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and endorsed by Gov. John Hickenlooper. It also has support from several environmental groups such as Trout Unlimited.”

The support from some environmental organizations, including Trout Unlimited, stems from the mitigation measures designed to reduce its impact on the Colorado River headwaters, including a new bypass, or connectivity, channel that will allow more of the river to flow past the Windy Gap Reservoir.

Lurline Underbrink Curran, the former county manager for Grand County, has also appealed to Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper Alliance, to drop the lawsuit.

“Any lawsuit that delays or stops this work is a detriment to the Colorado River,” Currant wrote in Oct. 2017. “If the Windy Gap Project does not go forward, the hard-won concessions evaporate, and the Colorado River will continue to degrade.”

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is covering the Roaring Fork and Colorado River basins for The Aspen Times. The Times published this story on its website on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, as did the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.