Opinion: Fort Collins sanitation district expands reclamation facility — The Fort Collins Coloradoan

Here’s a guest column from Jim Ling that’s running in the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

From where I stand, the South Fort Collins Sanitation District (SFCSD) is proud to announce it is nearing the completion of its approximately $35 million wastewater reclamation expansion, which includes improvements to its facility.

These much-needed improvements, slated for completion by the end of the year, allows us to meet new, more strict requirements from the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), in addition to providing additional capacity for future growth.

With this expansion, SFCSD can delay the implementation of future regulations by up to a decade, providing more time to budget for future requirements. Building now proves more economical than waiting, allowing SFCSD to do more with less.

We work hard to protect our customers and the environment by trying to stay ahead of the game and prepare as economically as possible.

The SFCSD serves an area encompassing approximately 60 square miles, including residents in Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath, Windsor and Larimer County. These valued customers may rest assured that we will continue to provide excellent service and treatment 24/7, 365 days a year.

Performing these types of improvement projects proactively helps control costs, further protecting our customers from unnecessary fee increases. Best of all, we continue to offer very high levels of service at reasonable costs for our customers.

Thanks to careful planning, we expect the project to finish on time according to plans, and under budget.

Capacity increases are paid by growth through the sale of taps and impact fees collected during development. Costs associated with enhanced treatment needs are funded through monthly wastewater charges to our customers.

Our staff and board work hard to be good stewards of our constituents’ money. As of now, the district has not had to borrow to finance these important and necessary projects, thus saving money by avoiding interest payments.

More than 400 miles of collection lines bring wastewater to the water reclamation facility 24-hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year. The current treatment process at the facility is capable of treating 4.5 million gallons of water per day.

As EPA and CDPHE requirements for water reclamation become more stringent, we must adapt and add processes to continuously improve the quality of water discharged from our plant.

By sending cleaner water to the Poudre River, we improve the river’s health. Not only will these facility enhancements continue to provide excellent service and treatment, but they will also allow us to handle the population growth that many communities in Northern Colorado are experiencing.

Water is a finite resource and it needs our protection. We continue to do everything we can to ensure that clean and healthy water is available to future generations.

To learn more about this plant expansion and follow its progress visit https://fclwd.com/wastewater/about-us/wwtp-expansion/

Jim Ling is a member of the South Fort Collins Sanitation District board of directors.

Clarifier up close. Photo credit: The South Fort Collins Sanitation District

#NISP update

Cache la Poudre River from South Trail via Wikimedia Foundation.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The Larimer County Planning Commission on Wednesday heard details of plans for constructing and operating the project, which would include building Glade northwest of Fort Collins and laying 35.6 miles of pipeline to carry NISP water out of the county.

The information packet given to commissioners, including staff reports, environmental impact statements and comments from numerous government agencies, is 3,242 pages.

The packet includes more than 500 comments from members of the public, including groups and individuals who have been fighting NISP since it was proposed in 2004.

Concerns about the project and its impact to the Poudre River during federal and state permitting processes were raised again along with new issues on the county level by environmental group Save the Poudre and others.

Larimer County plans several hearings

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of three planned by the planning commission on NISP. It consisted of presentations by county staff members and representatives of Northern Water, the main proponent of NISP.

No public comment was taken. That will happen during hearings scheduled July 8 and 15. An additional meeting would be scheduled if needed to allow Northern Water time for rebuttal following the public comment, county officials said.

Northern Water is seeking a 1041 permit — named for the state law giving authority to local governments to make decisions on certain types of infrastructure projects — for NISP. The planning commission will make a recommendation on the application to the Board of County Commissioners, which will decide whether to grant a permit.

Three of the nine planning commission members recused themselves from the proceedings citing the potential appearance of impartiality or conflicts of interest: Anne Best Johnson, community development director for the city of Evans, which is a participant in NISP; Bob Choate, an attorney who might be called upon to give legal advice on the project to the Weld County commissioners; and Sean Dougherty, a Realtor who represents a landowner who might be affected by the project…

Under the county’s 1041 regulations, the county’s purview of NISP is limited to the siting of Glade and associated recreational facilities and the locations of four large pipelines that would carry NISP water through Larimer County.

The project must meet 12 criteria for approval, including that the project would not negatively impact public health and safety and the “proposal demonstrates a reasonable balance between the costs to the applicant to mitigate significant adverse (effects) and the benefits achieved by such mitigation,” according to the land-use code.

County development review staff members said the proposal meets the criteria and recommended approval of the permit with 82 conditions, including requirements for several reports and plans for addressing issues such as noise and dust during construction.

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

As part of the project, Northern would build recreational facilities that would be managed by the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources. The department manages recreation at Carter Lake and Horsetooth, Pinewood and Flatiron reservoirs.

Facilities at Glade would include a visitor center, campgrounds, hiking, fishing and boating. A four-lane boat ramp would be built on the southeast side of the reservoir.

The facilities would increase recreational opportunities as envisioned in county master plans, said Daylan Figgs, Natural Resources director.

Demand for access to recreation will likely increase as the county grows in the years to come, Figgs said. The facilities proposed by Northern would cost about $21.8 million. NISP would cover 75% of the cost, with the rest coming from the county directly or through partnerships.

[Nancy] Wallace said she was “struck” that the county might have to contribute to the cost of recreational facilities. NISP doesn’t appear to “give much to the county” other than its recreation components and water for Windsor and the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, she said…

Christine Coleman, a water resources engineer with Northern, told the commissioners $49 million in NISP environmental mitigation work would be done in the county.

The final environmental impact statement for NISP estimated development of the reservoir could bring in $13 million to $30 million a year in economic benefits, Coleman said. The project would contribute $16.35 million to recreation facilities at Glade…

To keep water flowing in the Poudre, which can dry up in spots under certain circumstances, NISP would release water from Glade back to the river through a 1.3-mile pipeline.

The added water would flow 13 miles through Fort Collins before it is picked up by another pipeline upstream from the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Mulberry Street. The guaranteed flow through the city would be between 18 and 25 cubic feet per second.

“This will increase flows at the Lincoln (Street) gauge in Fort Collins and the Poudre River in eight out of 12 months in average years and 10 out of 12 months in dry years,” said Stephanie Cecil, a water resources engineer with Northern.

Water would be pumped into a pipeline running east to a pipeline along County Road 1 running south. The pipeline would affect some city-owned natural areas.

A fourth pipeline would carry water from Glade along a route known as the “northern tier” and connect with the county line pipeline.

The pipe would run through the Eagle Lake subdivision, sparking resistance to the proposal from local residents…

Cecil said the pipelines would require 100-foot easements, of which 60 feet would be permanent and 40 feet would be temporary for constructions. Property owners would be paid fair market value for easements, and surface disruptions would be reclaimed to pre-existing conditions or better.

NISP’s pipelines would range from 32 to 54 inches in diameter. The northern tier pipeline would carry about two-thirds of the water going to NISP participants, Cecil said…

What’s next for NISP in Larimer County

The Larimer County Planning Commission is scheduled to take public comment on NISP during hearings schedule July 8 and July 15 at the County Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak St. in Fort Collins.

Both meetings will begin at 6 p.m. Attendance will be limited to 50 people because of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

Comments will be limited to 2 minutes per person. Borrowing, lending or grouping time will not be allowed. Groups and individuals who wish to speak in person or remotely must register at larimer.org/planning/NISP-1041.

The planning commission will make a recommendation on a permit for NISP to the Board of County Commissioners, which will decide on the application.

Hearings by the commissioners are scheduled:

  • 6 p.m., Aug. 17 – Presentations only; no public testimony.
  • 2 p.m. Aug. 24 (break from 5:30-6:30 p.m.)
  • 3 p.m. Aug. 31 (break from 5:30-6:30 p.m.)
  • 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2 – questions, final deliberation and decision
  • Information: http://larimer.org/planning/NISP-1041

    Northern Integrated Supply Project July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    Larimer County staff has recommended approval of a 1041 permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project with requirements that include noise, water and air quality monitoring and mitigation during construction of its reservoirs and associated pipelines.

    Engineering, health department and planning staff members outlined that recommendation to the Larimer County Planning Commission on Wednesday during the first of a three-part public hearing for the reservoir project, which over the past decade has drawn vocal opposition and support.

    Northern Water hopes to build the water project on behalf of 15 water providers as a way to pull water in wet years, from both the Poudre and South Platte rivers, to store for when needed. All of the participants have water conservation plans and have reduced their water use by 10%, but still need future water supplies, according to Northern Water…

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the main permit to build the project — a decision expected sometime this year after more than a decade of evaluation. However, Larimer County does have some authority through its 1041 permit on certain aspects of construction of the reservoir and its associated pipelines as well as recreation on and surrounding the reservoir.

    The planning commission will make a recommendation to the Larimer County commissioners, who will hold a public hearing that is scheduled across three Mondays starting Aug. 17 and will end with a decision on whether to grant the 1041 permit.

    The first of the planning commission dates, Wednesday, was a presentation by Northern Water and by Larimer County staff. Public comment is slated for the next two hearings, scheduled July 8 and July 15…

    Some highlights of the presentation, from both county staff and Northern Water representatives, include:

  • The realignment of U.S. 287 north of Fort Collins is not part of the 1041 permit, but Larimer County is asking that the design take into effect the impacts on nearby county roads including the already dangerous intersection with U.S. 287 and Colo. 14.
  • Glade Reservoir would be able to store 170,000 acre feet of water with 1,600 surface acres and water that could hit 250 feet at its deepest. The reservoir would be 5 miles long, and the project would include four separate pipeline segments spanning a total of 35.6 miles.
  • Recreation at the reservoir would be detailed closer to construction to reflect trends and interests at the time but would include a mixture of boating, camping, fishing and trails that would help meet demands for a growing Larimer County population. Overall, Northern Water has proposed $21.8 million in recreation amenities and improvements, including a visitors center. Northern Water has committed to covering 75% of those costs through the project; the remainder would be covered through partnerships.
  • Northern Water would need to mitigate impacts on traffic that would range between 400 and 1,600 average daily trips during construction of the reservoir, up to 300 daily trips associated with construction of the pipelines and an average of 1,150 daily trips associated with recreation.
  • Larimer County would require traffic management, dust and noise mitigation plans, as well as groundwater monitoring. Construction would be limited to daytime, and the county would require private well monitoring to ensure that those water sources are not polluted.
  • County staff members believe any impacts on wildlife, wetlands, streamflow, fisheries and other natural resources would be mitigated by existing measures in a Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan that was approved by state officials in 2017, as well as through a water quality permit based on multiple studies and evaluations. The mitigation plan calls call for $53 million in improvements, including fish-friendly bypasses at diversion structures, a low flow plan to keep more water in the Poudre River through Fort Collins and enhancements to wetlands and wildlife habitat.
  • The project proposes swapping irrigation water from the Poudre River with water from the South Platte River, which will prevent “buy and dry” of farmland. This could keep more than 60,000 acres of irrigated farmland in production, according to Northern Water.
  • Northern Integrated Supply Project preferred alternative

    #NISP update

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    Save the Poudre has asked the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to reverse the water quality certification permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

    The nonprofit that organized in 2004 in opposition of the reservoir project said it had 13 objections to the water quality permit, including criticisms of the mitigation plans as well as effects on streamflow…

    Aerial view of the roposed Glade Reservoir site — photo via Northern Water

    Northern Water has proposed the reservoir project on behalf of 15 water providers, who are relying on Glade and Galeton reservoirs to store water for their future supplies.

    The water in the reservoirs primarily would come from the Poudre River…

    The project requires three major permits — a record of decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which after more than a decade is expected later this year; a 1041 permit from Larimer County, which has public hearings scheduled this summer; and the water quality certification.

    Staff with the Colorado Water Quality Division granted the certification in January…

    The appeal alleges 13 violations of state regulations in the project, including that Northern Water has not yet secured all of the needed water rights, that the project does not take the effect of climate change into its streamflow levels and that mitigation will not occur until full buildout of the project and does not allow peak flows to flush the river and restore the riparian areas…

    Northern Water disputes the allegations made by Save the Poudre. The water district has repeatedly said that it has worked hard to mitigate any damage that may be caused by the project and that is has addressed streamflow.

    Conditions agreed upon in the water quality certification include extensive river monitoring and an adaptive management program “that will bring stakeholders together to work formally on the future of the Poudre River,” according to a statement released by Jeff Stahla, spokesman for Northern Water.

    “Northern Water and the NISP participants submitted extensive documentation in our application to demonstrate our commitment to high water quality in the Poudre River,” Stahla said in the statement. “That commitment will extend for decades through the conditions agreed to by NISP participants.”

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

    #Snowpack news: @Northern_Water directors give preliminary recommendation for a 70% quota

    Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Miles Blumhardt):

    Colorado’s above-average snowpack for the second consecutive year has created similar reservoir storage excess, which is good news for farmers, city municipalities and residents.

    On Thursday, Northern Water board of directors gave a preliminary recommendation of a 70% water quota, the same as last year when Colorado had robust snowpack.

    The board sets a quota of 50% in November then increases or decreases the water quota as the water season plays out.

    …Tuesday. Snowpack, reservoir storage, stream flows and a projected April precipitation forecast are all indicating ample water, which prompted the board to make its initial recommendation. A final decision will be made at next week’s board meeting.

    “We anticipate this summer that farmers will have the water supply they need for the summer growing season,” said Jeff Stahla, Northern Water spokesperson. “And the same will be true for businesses and residents throughout the year.”

    That’s not only good news for farmers but recreationists as well. Horsetooth Reservoir is already more than 90% full, and Stahla said he expects an ample water supply at the popular reservoir throughout the boating season…

    How snowpack is faring in each of Colorado’s basins

    As of Tuesday, average snowpack over the eight basins statewide was at 108%, marking the second consecutive year of above-average snowpack. It’s the third time in four years the state’s basins have hit that mark.

    The South Platte River Basin, which includes Fort Collins and Denver, led the state at 118% of average, which is just shy of where the basin was during last year’s big snow year.

    Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center, said the key snowpack station for the Poudre River is at Joe Wright Reservoir. It was at 111% of the median.

    The North Platte River Basin and Yampa/White River Basin each were at 113%; Upper Colorado River Basin was at 111%; Arkansas River Basin and Upper Rio Grande River Basin were at 101%; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basin was at 100% and the Gunnison River Basin was at 98%…

    What to expect in April

    April is the city’s third wettest month with normal precipitation of 2.06 inches, trailing May and June. Average snowfall is 6.2 inches, but Schumacher said April, like March, has shown it can bring snowstorms producing 12 inches or more of snow.

    Four of the city’s top 10 snowstorms have occurred in April, with all dumping more than 20 inches on the city.

    Westwide SNOTEL April 3, 2020 via the NRCS.

    Our first crack at legislation ends in success! — @COWaterTrust

    Poudre River Bike Path bridge over the river at Legacy Park photo via Fort Collins Photo Works.

    From the Colorado Water Trust (Kate Ryan):

    Last week, Governor Polis signed into law two bipartisan bills that will help us in our mission to restore water to Colorado’s rivers in need. We couldn’t be more excited about HB 20-1037—a bill that provides direction for instream flow augmentation plans—and HB 20-1157—a bill that expands a program for temporary loans of water to the environment. Each of these bills was two years in the making, and ended up better for it. Water users from across the state weighed in on how these changes could work in tandem to both complement historical water uses, particularly agricultural, and to improve environmental conditions.

    So, how will these bills work to restore water to rivers in need? We refer to HB 20-1037, as the the instream flow augmentation bill. This bill will facilitate court-approved plans under which water users can add water back into hard working, heavily used rivers under the auspices of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). Water added back to the river will be protected as “instream flow,” or water that is designated for environmental purposes, but other water users can continue to divert water from the river for consumptive uses like agriculture and municipal delivery just as they always have. It’s a brand new concept using augmentation plans for instream flow—and required this clarification of old law. With this change, we can now move forward on our long-time goal of connecting the Cache la Poudre river from Fort Collins to Greeley.

    HB 20-1157 is what we call the instream flow loan bill. It will add tools to a loan program that the CWCB has managed for some time. Until this bill, a water user could only loan their water right to the CWCB to be used for instream flow use in 3 out of 10 years. This legislation increases that to 5 out of 10 years. Additionally, in the past, only one ten-year loan period was allowed, but now that loan period can be extended for two additional ten-year periods. In sum, a water user can now loan their water to the CWCB for up to fifteen out of thirty years. There are many more details under this program, but what the legislation boils down to is a big benefit to aquatic environments and flexibility for water users who want to engage in this program, often for compensation.

    We are proud to have worked with project partners including Cache la Poudre Water Users, the cities of Thornton, Fort Collins and Greeley, Northern Colorado Water Conservation District, the CWCB and Colorado Parks and Wildlife as proponents of the instream flow augmentation bill. It was our first foray into original legislative work, and a big success. And, we are thankful to The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Colorado for spearheading the legislative effort for the instream flow loan bill. Now, we can’t wait to do what the Water Trust does best—use these tools for projects that will restore water to our rivers. First stop, the Cache la Poudre River with the instream flow augmentation bill. Onward!

    Thornton Water Project update

    From The Greeley Tribune (Cuyler Mead):

    [Ted] Simmons is one of more than a hundred landowners — some who have been there for generations — who received a letter in recent weeks from an agent of the city of Thornton.

    The letter offers Simmons and his neighbors a sum of money — Simmons reckoned the city is figuring about $7,500 per acre — for a permanent easement that would allow the city to build a jagged-lined water pipeline, north to south, across Weld County into Thornton.

    “The current proposal makes that piece of land almost unusable,” Simmons said. “I can still put up hay, but for the future, if you want to do any plans in the future, it pretty much destroys the whole piece. You can’t build over it.”

    […]

    Thornton Water Project map via http://thorntonwaterproject.com

    The permitting process has been a bit rocky. It involves both Larimer and Weld counties, and the commissioners of each county have thrown various hurdles in the way of the city which resides in neither of their jurisdictions.

    Initially, the project proposed to take Weld County Road 13 much of the way south. But there was concern on the part of the Weld commissioners that that was unfair to the landowners along that stretch of highway.

    “We said we were not willing to put the pipeline in our right of way,” Weld County commission chairman Mike Freeman said by phone this week. “The reason is, with farming, they farm up to the county road. So it still impacts the landowners as much. The landowners need to be paid for these easements. It’s going to impact them, so they need to be paid.”

    About 160 parcels are crossed, Koleber said, as the hypothetical pipeline traverses Weld County. And the commissioners weren’t making things any easier on Thornton, either.

    “Weld commissioners said, ‘We want you to acquire all of the easements that you need for the pipeline ahead of time,’ before they even look at the permit,” Koleber said. “That’s reverse of how a project normally goes. Permit-design-right of way-construction. They flipped that and continued our process for a year, from July 2019 to July 2020.”

    That said, roadblocks or not, Weld has been substantially more accommodating than Larimer. There, the commissioners rejected the permit application and are on their way to court with the city of Thornton. Freeman said that that’s not the plan in Weld.

    “We want to make sure they’re treating people fairly,” Freeman said. “We can’t get in the middle of negotiation, whether they’re paying enough, but we want to make sure they’re getting those easements secured, not coming in and saying, ‘We’ve got 30%.’ We’re not going to approve a pipeline if we don’t know where it’s at … but if they come in with an application demonstrating it’s complete, and it’s a good one, more than likely we’d approve it.”

    But the landowners — at least some of them — aren’t thrilled with the idea of giving up a strip of their property to the underground pipeline, even if it can be farmed right over the top of it as Thornton claims.

    That’s because, like Simmons, the value is less in agriculture now than it is in development potential. Houses or other municipal space are where the future is.

    Simmons and his neighbors, including Ken and Sue Kerchenfaut, would much rather the pipeline go down Weld County Road 13, actually. But if that’s not an option, Simmons has another idea, too. Rather than jutting through the various properties in a zig-zagging line, why not take a straight shot parallel path with an existing Sinclair Energy pipeline that already stripes his and many of his neighbors’ land?

    […]

    Like it or not, it seems they’ll probably have to give up the easement one way or another. Thornton feels comfortable its eminent domain powers will be backed up in court, should it get that far.

    And they’re probably right.

    Thornton is a home rule charter, and such entities are granted quite broad eminent domain power for the sake of a public good by the Colorado constitution. That’s what an expert on the subject, University of Colorado professor Richard Collins, said by phone this week.

    “The home rule powers of the constitution explicitly authorize home rule charters to have eminent domain,” Collins said. “So there’s really not much doubt that a home rule city would have broad powers of eminent domain.”

    Thornton Water Project update

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    [Thornton] plans to start building uncontested portions of the water pipeline in Windsor and Johnstown to keep the project on schedule, spokesman Todd Barnes said.

    Meanwhile, Thornton plans to file an opening brief [February 27, 2020] in its lawsuit contesting Larimer County commissioners’ rejection of the pipeline. Commissioners’ jurisdiction applies only to unincorporated areas of the county.

    Once Thornton files the opening brief, Larimer County commissioners will have about five weeks to file reply briefs, unless they get an extension.

    It’s been more than a year since commissioners unanimously denied a 1041 permit for the pipeline’s proposed path through unincorporated Larimer County. The pipeline is intended to transport Poudre River water from reservoirs northeast of Fort Collins to Thornton’s water treatment plant.

    The water, eventually amounting to an average of 14,000 acre-feet annually, would support Thornton’s growing population. About 140,000 people call the Denver suburb home today, but city officials expect the population to grow to 250,000 during the coming decades…

    Many Larimer County residents objected to the pipeline’s proposed path, arguing Thornton should run the water through a stretch of the Poudre River instead. Thornton’s water is already taken out of the river upstream of Fort Collins for agricultural use, but river advocates say Thornton should use its project as an opportunity to bolster stream flows and provide a benefit to Larimer County.

    Larimer County commissioners rejected Thornton’s 1041 permit because they said it didn’t meet seven of the 12 criteria for the permit, including mitigation of environmental impacts, mitigation of adverse effects on land, and project benefits that outweigh the loss of any natural resources or agricultural productivity…

    Thornton’s lawsuit argues commissioners were legally bound to base their decision solely on the pipeline’s siting and direct impacts. Commissioners’ decision illegally undermined Thornton’s rights by taking irrelevant factors into consideration, Thornton argues…

    “… this Court should declare, or rule as a matter of law, that (the board) cannot consider, condition or deny the application based on any river or canal concepts that undermine Thornton’s property rights, constitutional rights and water rights in the diversion point, the delivery point, the quantity and quality of the water right or the right to remove water from Thornton-owned farms adjudicated in the Water Decree because doing so is prohibited by (state statute),” stated documents Thornton filed in Larimer County District Court this week.

    Larimer County’s rejection of Thornton’s permit application applies only to its proposed path through unincorporated parts of the county. Thornton has intergovernmental agreements with Windsor and Timnath allowing pipeline construction and is crafting an agreement with Johnstown, Barnes said.

    The Johnstown portions of the pipeline that could begin construction in March are on easements with private landowners.

    Barnes said the project remains on schedule to begin water deliveries in 2025.

    See Article 7.

    #Colorado grants 401 Water Quality Certification to Northern Integrated Supply Project #NISP

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

    From Biz West Media/Boulder Daily Camera (Dan Mika) via The Fort Morgan Times:

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment gave approval to efforts to build the Northern Integration Supply Project, or NISP, securing one of three final permits the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District needs before it can start on the $1.1 billion water project.

    In a letter to Northern Water earlier this week, officials said the state has “reasonable assurance” the project would comply with all required water quality standards at the state levels.

    The letter said while the project wouldn’t directly discharge pollutants into water sources, it has “the potential to cause or contribute to long-term water quality impacts.” It is requiring member cities to monitor 21 locations along the NISP for water conditions needed to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems, and to watch for bacteria, sediment and runoff material that could harm humans in contact with the river…

    NISP member cities and organizations include the Fort Collins Loveland Water District, Left Hand Water District, Erie, Lafayette, Windsor, Frederick, Firestone and Dacono…

    Northern Water spokesman Jeff Stahla said the state’s approval is a major milestone for the project as it approaches the final few months of getting required permits.

    “This is something we’ve been working on for years to submit the required data, and we’re pleased to see this response from the state,” he said.

    Northern Water requires two more permits before it can start construction on the project. A final decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected by June, while the utility next month plans to file for a “1041 local powers” permit with Larimer County. Residents would then have 90 days to offer feedback before county commissioners make a decision.

    Northern Integrated Supply Project recreation plan update #NISP

    Aerial view of the roposed Glade Reservoir site — photo via Northern Water

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Plans for Glade Reservoir, the main storage component of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, are coming into sharper focus as the project approaches a series of landmark county hearings. Larimer County commissioners will review Northern Water’s 1041 permit application this spring. The permit covers the construction of Glade Reservoir and water pipelines for NISP, which would take water from the Poudre River to shore up supplies for 15 Northern Colorado municipalities and water districts…

    Larimer County’s upcoming review of a project decades in the making is just one reason 2020 is expected to be a game-changing year for NISP — for the project’s leader, Northern Water, and for the sizable camp of people trying to stop it…

    You can now count some neighbors of the Glade site in the latter. Residents of the Bonner Peak Ranch, Cherokee Meadows and County Road 29 areas have banded together to form a new opposition group called Save Rural NoCo…

    Members of Save Rural NoCo, as well as NISP nemesis Save the Poudre, plan to make their position clear during public comment at the 1041 hearings. The hearings haven’t been scheduled yet because Northern Water hasn’t submitted its 1041 application, but it likely will do so in the coming weeks, spokesman Jeff Stahla said.

    The submission will trigger a 90-day deadline for Larimer County to hold planning commission and board of commissioners hearings…

    NISP’s main proposed pipeline would carry water from Glade Reservoir about 40 miles southeast toward the project’s participants. The other pipeline would carry water from the Poudre River in Fort Collins about 5 miles east to meet up with the larger pipeline at the county line. The nonfinalized pipeline map is posted on nisptalk.com. A portion of the proposed route is similar to that of the rejected Thornton pipeline.

    While Thornton’s 1041 proposal drew commissioners’ ire for a perceived lack of benefit to Larimer County, Northern Water might have an easier time selling NISP as an asset.

    Most of the project’s 15 participants are outside of Larimer County, but about 16% of NISP’s water yield is projected to go to Fort Collins-Loveland Water District and Windsor. FCLWD is mostly in Larimer County, and Windsor traverses Larimer and Weld counties.

    And Northern Water’s conceptual recreation plan for Glade Reservoir describes the reservoir as an opportunity to alleviate pressure on Larimer County’s highly trafficked reservoirs and support population growth. The Larimer County Reservoir Parks Master Plan identifies Glade Reservoir as a “future park strategy.”

    If Glade is built, Larimer County will likely manage recreation at the site. Early concept plans for the reservoir and its surrounding acreage include a visitor center, 170-acre recreation area, boat ramp, three parking lots, unpaved hiking trails east of the reservoir and five campgrounds totaling more than 60 camping sites. Northern Water plans to pay Colorado Parks and Wildlife to stock the reservoir with walleye, saugeye, black crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and rainbow trout. Among an expansive list of other potential recreation opportunities are mountain biking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, power boating and jet skiing.

    Northern Water predicts recreation at the reservoir will generate $13 million to $30 million annually in tourism, economic opportunities for area businesses and sales tax revenue.

    On the other hand, NISP would significantly decrease flows in the Poudre River during peak season, diverting more than 40,000 acre-feet annually from a river that is already heavily used. Northern Water plans to send some water down the Poudre through downtown Fort Collins to reduce the impacts here, and the project is projected to slightly increase flows during off-peak season. Northern Water has also committed to spend millions on stream channel and riparian vegetation improvements, among other mitigation efforts.

    But the Poudre relies on high springtime flows to flush out sediment and preserve wildlife habitat along the river corridor, and NISP opponents like Save the Poudre argue that no amount of mitigation spending can negate the detriment of taking so much water out of the river…

    The 1041 process is technically supposed to be focused purely on the siting of Glade Reservoir and the NISP pipelines, but debate about NISP often blurs the line between nuts-and-bolts infrastructure issues and the project’s larger significance for the Poudre River.

    The most significant review of NISP’s necessity and environmental impacts is being carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to issue a record of decision on NISP in 2020. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is expected to issue a decision on the project’s water quality permit by the end of the month.

    “When this was first contemplated, I don’t think anyone predicted it would all come together in the first quarter of 2020,” Stahla said. “What it means is that (NISP) is going to be top-of-mind for the next several months for folks here in Larimer County.”

    Glade Reservoir construction could begin as soon as 2023, with the first water storage taking place in 2028…

    Save Rural NoCo’s opposition to NISP might have begun with the predicted nuisance of living near Glade Reservoir, but residents interviewed by the Coloradoan said it’s grown into a wider-ranging objection to the project’s impacts on the Poudre River and wildlife…

    Jan Rothe, who lives off County Road 29C, feels the project’s benefits are being outsourced to the 15 participants’ fast-growing communities, most of which are spread across Boulder, Weld and Morgan counties…

    Northern Water will work with the county to mitigate noise and traffic impacts near Glade, Stahla said, and commissioners can impose conditions on recreation for the 1041 permit. For example, he said, motorized boating could be restricted to the east side of the reservoir so residents aren’t bothered by the noise.

    He added that the area is already home to a shooting range and a quarry, though, so the reservoir wouldn’t exactly be the only source of noise.

    Stahla said about 50 comment cards collected at the last open house showed a mix of opinions. Most of the commenters were concerned about the recreation plan fitting in with the neighborhood rather than objecting to the reservoir itself, he said…

    And Stahla took issue with the idea that NISP serves no benefit for Larimer County. NISP’s largest participant, Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, has a service area covering about 45,000 residents primarily in Larimer County. Windsor is located partially in Larimer County and has about 31,000 residents. The other communities are home to thousands of people who live in one place and commute to work in places like Fort Collins and Loveland, he said.

    Fort Collins itself gets about half its water from the Poudre River, and Horsetooth is filled with a mix of water from the Poudre and the Colorado Big-Thompson Project.

    “To look at your kid’s teacher who has to drive in from Eaton every day and say, ‘Well, that’s just a Weld County benefit” — I think it misses some of the larger points about where Northern Colorado is as a region,” Stahla said. “As the region has grown and become a mecca for economic and job growth, not everyone’s been able to fit within the area of Fort Collins Utilities. And therefore, the people outside of it need to have secure water supplies as well.”

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

    Fort Morgan councillors approve water and sewer rate increases #NISP

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

    From The Fort Morgan Times (Slade Rand):

    Rate increases tied into planning for possible NISP construction, city officials say

    Brent Nation, the city’s director of water resources and utilities, proposed to City Council members on Tuesday night rate increases that would mean that city customers will pay 8% more for water utilities and 2% more for sewage utilities starting in January 2020.

    The Fort Morgan City Council then unanimously voted to approve those higher rates during the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

    “Looking at your average water bill for a resident in the City of Fort Morgan, it would go from $84 per month up to $90.75 per month, is what (our consultant) was projecting the change would be,” Nation said.

    That expected average increase of $6.75 per month for residential customers represents an 8% increase to the monthly consumer charge and a $0.29 bump in the commodity charge per 1,000 gallons of water. The consumer charge for a 3/4-inch water meter will increase from $42.39 to $45.78, and the charge for a 1-inch water meter will rise from $74.05 to $79.97 with the new rates.

    Sewer collection rates will increase, as well, in January 2020, with a $0.42 increase in the monthly charge for a 3/4″ residential water meter. The metered consumption charge per 1,000 gallons collected is rising 4 cents or 5 cents depending on the water meter size.

    The city is enforcing those higher rates as per the recommendation of a consulting firm Fort Morgan commissioned in 2018 to develop a 10-year water utility financial plan and a five-year sewer utility financial plan. Raftelis Financial Consulting gave the city a report that called for the two recent water rate increases and the sewer rate increase.

    Last year, the city also raised water consumer charge rates by a similar 8% across the board…

    Nation said the higher rates are necessary to better position the city and its cash reserves for completing the Northern Integrated Supply Project in the coming years, and to support the bond payments that project will require. NISP, which is entering its 16th official year in 2020, could provide up to 40,000 acre-feet of municipal water supplies for 15 cities in the Northern Colorado region by building two large water storage facilities.

    Fort Morgan committed to paying a $900,000 portion of NISP’s $10 million budget for the upcoming year during Tuesday’s council meeting.

    @USACE releases Draft EIS for Halligan Reservoir expansion

    Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

    Click here to read the draft EIS. Here’s the abstract:

    The Halligan Water Supply Project (Halligan Project) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) evaluates the effects of enlarging the existing Halligan Reservoir located about 25 miles northwest of Fort Collins on the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River (North Fork) in Larimer County in north central Colorado. The City of Fort Collins Utilities (Fort Collins) proposes to raise Halligan Dam by 25.4 feet to enlarge Halligan Reservoir from its current capacity of 6,400 acre-feet to approximately 14,525 acre-feet to provide about 7,900 acre-feet of additional annual firm yield to meet Fort Collins’ projected 2065 municipal and industrial water demands. The existing reservoir surface area is approximately 253 acres; the proposed enlargement would result in a surface area of approximately 386 acres. The Halligan Project would result in the placement of fill material into waters of the U.S., which requires a Department of the Army permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

    Halligan Reservoir aerial credit: City of Fort Collins

    Halligan Dam is a concrete arch dam built over 100 years ago and will require rehabilitation in the near future to address safety risks. These safety risks would be addressed by Fort Collins under their proposed action during enlargement of the dam. Under the Project Alternatives, ownership of and responsibility for the dam rehabilitation would revert back to the North Poudre Irrigation Company. Under Fort Collins’ proposed action, Halligan Reservoir would continue to be filled with direct flows from the North Fork. Releases would be made to the North Fork downstream of the dam and would flow through Seaman Reservoir to the confluence with the Cache La Poudre River. From there, water would be exchanged up to Fort Collins’ intake or to the Monroe Canal intake and delivered to Fort Collins’ water treatment facility through the Pleasant Valley Pipeline. Under the proposed action, Fort Collins would maintain a minimum flow of five cubic feet per second in the North Fork from May 1 to September 30, a minimum flow of three cubic feet per second the remainder of the year, and forego all diversions to the enlarged pool and Halligan Reservoir for the three days that coincide with the forecasted peak runoff flow event for the North Fork.

    This Draft EIS also evaluates the effects of the following alternatives to the Halligan Project: the No- Action Alternative; the Expanded Glade Alternative; the Gravel Pits Alternative; the Agricultural Reservoirs Alternative and the No-Action Alternative.

    Reviewers should provide the Corps with their comments during the Draft EIS review period. The Corps will respond to substantive comments on the Draft EIS in a Final EIS. The Draft EIS and supporting documents are available at: or https://go.usa.gov/xEfp5 or http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory-Program/Colorado/EIS-Halligan/

    #PoudreRiver work group seeking nominees for annual Poudre Pioneer Award — The Greeley Tribune

    Cache la Poudre River from South Trail via Wikimedia Foundation.

    From The Greeley Tribune (Joe Moylan):

    The Poudre Runs Through It Action Work Group is seeking nominations for its annual Poudre Pioneer Award, and will recognize the honoree on Feb. 28, 2020 at the Poudre River Forum at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Loveland.

    Each year, the Forum brings together those on the Poudre who farm, deliver clean potable water, drink beer, recreate and advocate for river health to learn from one another and to explore how we can move from conflict to collaboration. The awardee will be selected prior to the forum, invited to share a short acceptance speech and will be recognized through local media.

    Those eligible are individuals or organizations, including businesses, public agencies, and non- profits, who have substantially contributed to the goal of making the Poudre a river that supplies the goods and services demanded by our complex society, within the existing and evolving water rights system and honoring existing property rights, while maintaining and improving ecological integrity and resilience.

    Many contributions can further the goal of a healthy working river, including, but not limited to, fostering collaboration across water use sectors including agricultural, urban, and environmental, production of scientific or technical information, fundraising, engineering excellence, public outreach, water resources management, or water quality and quantity monitoring. These contributions may be judged on their degree of effectiveness, innovation, creativity, novelty, problem solving ability, ease of duplication by others, and leadership.

    Nominees need not live or work in the Poudre Basin, but the tangible results of their efforts must be evident within the basin and have a direct nexus to our goal for the Poudre River.

    Nominations can be made by anyone and are due on Sunday, Dec. 1. Nominations can be submitted online.

    All of the materials for the nomination must be uploaded at once, so have the following prepared prior to accessing the online form:

  • Information about why you think your nominee should receive the Poudre Pioneer Award.
  • Nominee’s notable accomplishments.
  • Nominee’s impacts and contributions in the Poudre River Basin.
  • Up to three letters of support.
  • For more information,contact nomination committee chairman Aaron Goldman at poudreriverforum@gmail.com.

    The River The Land, The People, The Cache — Greg Hobbs

    The River The Land, The People, The Cache

    We are the land, the river keepers,
    the public who owns the water resources,

    We are those who live along the waters,
    those whose duties require running the water
    through the ditches to those who own use rights,

    We are those who own the bed, the banks
    of the stream, the lands through which
    the arteries of the ditches run,

    We are the look, the feel, the faces, the hands
    of Colorado, the bundle of rights and duties
    that inter-depend upon each other,

    We are the Cache – for and with each other –
    for all the creatures who must rely

    On our best creative judgment,
    always shaping.

    Greg Hobbs 11/8/2019

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    ‘This is really a gem now,’ Poudre River Whitewater Park opens with a splash — The Rocky Mountain Collegian

    Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Collegian

    From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Ceci Taylor):

    Sounds of the Poudre River rolling over rocks, children and adults laughing and screaming and live music could be heard just north of Old Town at the Poudre River Whitewater Park Saturday.

    An ongoing project since 2014, the Poudre River Whitewater Park was finally opened to the public [October 23, 2019].

    A number of people spoke at the ribbon-cutting event, including Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, Councilmember Susan Gutowsky, local business owner and project donor Jack Graham and City Manager Darin Atteberry.

    “This is really a gem now in Fort Collins, and I’m really excited to be here today and to appreciate all the things this great City can do for the people of Fort Collins,” Troxell said. “The Poudre River is indeed a treasure, and we must guard it, and we must protect it and we must also enjoy it.”

    Alex Mcintosh, a Fort Collins resident and kayaker, said the construction of the Whitewater Park in Fort Collins means a lot to him as a kayaker.

    “I think it will bring a bunch of different subcultures and communities together: fishermen, rafters and people during the summer for tubing,” Mcintosh said. “It’s nice to see they’ve taken the initiative to create something in town for everyone to enjoy and learn and educate themselves about the river.”

    Fort Collins community members kayak and sit on the shore of the Poudre River during the grand opening of the Poudre River Whitewater Park off of North College and Vine Drive Oct. 12. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

    Troxell said the Poudre River has been a working river for a long time, so a lot of diversions, irrigation ditches and canals have already been built into the river. He said this particular part of the river already had a lot of man-made additions to it, which makes the river uninhabitable and inaccessible.

    The goal of the Poudre River master plan is to reclaim the river for natural habitat and create accessibility for the people of Fort Collins, and the completion of the Whitewater Park marks the beginning of that process.

    “When I was growing up here, the river was the back door,” Troxell said. “It had the riff-raff, it had the old cars and now, today, it’s our front door.”

    Gutowsky said the Heritage Trail Program plans to add signs throughout the river corridors, along with viewing areas that will allow visitors to understand the messages of history and the environment of the Poudre River.

    “Here we are today celebrating the Poudre River, and it is the jewel of our City,” Gutowsky said. “Over the decades, our river has seen great drama and interesting characters. It has many interesting stories to share. Not only will our Whitewater Park be a recreational phenomenon, but it will also serve as a heritage gateway: a physical and informational gateway created through a funding partnership.”

    Graham said there was a massive amount of people who contributed to the project, and nothing could have been accomplished without the support of Fort Collins citizens who voted for and donated to the park.

    “We should point to the success of this park as a great example of how investing in our community works, and we should continue to invest wisely,” Graham said. “People will be attracted to come to Fort Collins to see the Whitewater Park and the River District. New businesses will be formed, and the help of our community to even higher levels of economic strength are going to occur. The park is going to be a great asset to our City.”

    Atteberry said the park is only the beginning, and new ideas and projects are already in motion for the Poudre River. He also said the main goals of the Whitewater Park were recreation for citizens of Fort Collins, river safety and the juxtaposition between the man-made and the natural environment.

    Fort Collins community members kayak and sit on the shore of the Poudre River during the grand opening of the Poudre River Whitewater Park off of North College and Vine Drive Oct. 12. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

    “Recreation matters to this town, not only because it’s fun, but because we want to be a healthy community, and this is forwarding that strategic objective,” Atteberry said. “Safety matters. There are going to be fewer properties that are flooding because of this project. It’s not just a pretty face. It has a deep function to it, and that is it helps take properties out of the floodplain.”

    Kurt Friesen, director of the Park Planning and Development department for the City of Fort Collins, said the construction of the park wasn’t easy, and seeing it open was so rewarding because he knew the process it went through.

    Friesen said the project underwent a number of obstacles, including the limited timeframe given to get the work done in the river. He said a series of very old manholes were found in the river that were used to direct flows into the old power plant.

    Friesen said that, normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but since the team was racing against the clock to get the work done before the snowmelt in April, it was a problem.

    However, the contractors and their team were able to get the manholes removed quickly, and the project was able to continue.

    “I just want to say thank you to those that committed themselves,” Friesen said. “I believe this will be Fort Collins’ next great place largely because of that commitment.”

    Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com.

    Halligan Water Supply Project Cost Update — @FCUtilities

    Halligan Reservoir

    Here’s the release from Fort Collins Utilities (Eileen Dornfest):

    Fort Collins Utilities has updated the cost estimate for the Halligan Water Supply Project (Halligan Project). Based on information known at this time, current estimates indicate a probable cost of $120 million. However, costs could vary between $100 million to $150 million as the project scope and schedule are more clearly defined.

    The project will be paid for primarily by fees related to new development and redevelopment. The updated cost is not expected to significantly change Utilities’ water rate forecast. Future rate increases are not expected to change from the current rate adjustment strategy.

    To date, $19 million have been spent, mainly on environmental studies for both the Halligan Project and several other water storage alternatives that have been considered as part of the federal permitting process and on real estate acquisition.

    While the cost of water continues to rise in Northern Colorado, the Halligan Project remains the most cost-effective alternative to provide a safe and reliable water supply for Utilities’ existing and future customers. Other water supply options available to the City of Fort Collins cost seven times or more per acre-foot (approximately 326,000 gallons) of firm yield.

    Without the Halligan Reservoir expansion, customers could be vulnerable to future service interruptions during prolonged drought and emergency situations.

    Since entering the federal permitting process in 2006, project costs have been updated periodically. The last estimate was developed in 2017 and indicated a total cost of $75 million. Since then, Utilities has learned more about the future schedule and cost of federal, state and county permitting processes; real estate acquisition needs; evolving best practices in dam design and construction; and opportunities for environmental enhancements. Additionally, the cost increases $4 million for every year that construction is delayed due to permitting or other circumstances.

    In the past, the estimate was presented as one value – a best approximation of total project costs. In the future, the cost will be presented as a range of costs to reflect the evolving nature of a project of this size and complexity.

    Expected to be completed around 2026, the project will raise the height of the existing Halligan dam by 25 feet and increase the reservoir’s water storage by approximately 8,100 acre-feet. In addition to providing a safe, reliable water supply, the project will rehabilitate a 110-year-old dam that will need repairs in the future and enhance stream flows downstream of the reservoir, improving habitat and the ecosystem.

    A draft Environmental Impact Statement is anticipated to be released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers later this year, followed by a public comment period.

    To learn more about the Halligan Project, visit http://fcgov.com/halligan, email halligan@fcgov.com or call 970-416-4296 or V/TDD 711.

    “We know population will double by 2050, and we know the rivers won’t” — Chris Matkins

    Poudre River Bike Path bridge over the river at Legacy Park photo via Fort Collins Photo Works.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    The all-American ideal of an expansive, emerald green lawn accounts for almost two-thirds of the average Fort Collins resident’s water bill.

    But the two main water providers serving Fort Collins taps — Fort Collins Utilities and Fort Collins-Loveland Water District — want to change that. The two districts are focusing increasingly on outdoor irrigation to meet conservation goals and deal with the water demands of a growing population…

    Fort Collins Utilities provides water to most of Fort Collins north of Harmony. Fort Collins-Loveland Water District provides water to most of Fort Collins south of Harmony as well as parts of Loveland, Timnath, Windsor and Larimer County.

    Fort Collins Utilities, whose water use has consistently declined since the ’80s, has a goal of reducing water use another 10% by 2030. Fort Collins-Loveland Water District is headed toward a goal of reducing water use 10% between 2015 and 2024.

    “We know population will double by 2050, and we know the rivers won’t,” said Chris Matkins, Fort Collins-Loveland Water District general manager. “So we understand that we’ve got to make some changes.”

    Fort Collins Utilities has lowered its overall water use since the ’80s, and the community’s per-capita use reached 143 gallons a day in 2018 (down from 248 in 1989). Fort Collins-Loveland Water District’s per-capita use reached about 177 gallons a day in 2014 and has significantly declined since then, Matkins said.

    Winner of the Best Tasting Water in the Rocky Mountain Section-City of Fort Collins — @RMSAWWA

    Winning cities representatives 2019.
    Photo credit: AWWA — Rocky Mountain Section

    Here’s the release from the AWWA — Rocky Mountain Section:

    The water has been tasted, the water has been tested and the winner of the “Best of the Rocky Mountain Section” water taste test has been announced! City of Fort Collins took first place with a panel of veteran judges and media reporters evaluating water appearance, quality, order, and taste, of course. Competition was stiffer this year with 15 municipalities, from Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, competing for the title of the best drinking water in the mountain west during the 2019 annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works (RMSAWWA) in Keystone, Colorado. You can learn more about the winner, City of Fort Collins Utility, by visiting http://www.fcgov.com. Second place was awarded to Aurora Water, Colorado with the City of Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, Wyoming coming in third.

    City of Fort Collins will now go on to represent the mountain west in the national “Best of the Best” water taste test at the American Water Work Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE20) in Orlando, Florida, June 14-17, 2020. Over 11,000 water professionals across the country will gather at ACE20 where the best-tasting tap water in North American will be declared.

    The RMSAWWA is the regional section for the AWWA, which is the largest non-profit, science-based organization in the world for drinking water professionals. The RMSAWWA covers Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico and has over 2,400 members, representing water utilities, engineering consultants and water treatment specialty firms.

    Job Announcement: General Manager Position Northern Colorado Water Association Wellington, #Colorado

    From email from the Northern Colorado Water Association:

    The Northern Colorado Water Association (NCWA), a Colorado non-profit corporation, which provides potable water service to approximately 1,500 rural customers in northern Larimer County, is seeking a General Manager. NCWA provides domestic water to the rural area roughly between Fort Collins and the Wyoming border; and between the foothills and the Interstate 25 corridor. Existing sources of water supply include wells and connections to area water districts. The current General Manager is retiring at the end of 2019 and it is anticipated that the replacement would start around December 1, 2019.

    If you are qualified and interested in applying for this position, please email your resume and a letter of interest identifying your unique qualifications to perform the required duties to rich.ncwa@cowisp.net by September 1, 2019.

    Duties of the General Manager include the following:

    Provides overall company management, subject to review and approval by the Board of Directors.

    Provides overall company management, subject to review and approval by the Board of Directors.

    Responsible for all aspects of financial management including:

  • Budgeting
  • Billing
  • Revenue
  • Expenditures
  • Payroll
  • Cash flow
  • Banking
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • Coordination with outside accountants/auditors
  • Preparation of monthly reports of financial activities for the Board of Directors
  • Performs continual monitoring, assessment, and identification of the water system’s capability to provide reliable water service to existing and future customers including:

  • Evaluation of water system supply capability
  • Determination of ability to serve new taps
  • Identification of needed capital improvements
  • Assessing maintenance needs
  • Evaluation of raw water supplies
  • Long range strategic planning
  • Coordination with outside consultants/jurisdictional agencies
  • Participates in extensive communication and coordination with the Water System Operator relative to field activities and system operation

    Responsible for human resource activities including;

  • Hiring employees
  • Compensation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Acquiring and administering employee benefits
  • Filing periodic government reports
  • Addresses customer questions and/or complaints

    Attends Board of Directors meetings, prepares agendas, takes minutes, and advises the Board of the company’s activities, status, etc.

    Organizes the annual Membership meeting, provides legal notice, secures proxies, and provides a report of the company’s activities during the previous year to the attendees

    Administers the acquisition and maintenance of office equipment and software

    Acquires and coordinates legal counsel when appropriate.

    Organizes and maintains company records

    Other activities that may arise or be directed by the Board

    Photo credit: Melissa Wiseheart via the Northern Colorado Water Association

    Soldier Canyon Water Treatment Authority embarks on $38.9 million expansion

    The Soldier Canyon Dam is located on the east shore of Horsetooth Reservoir, 3.5 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado. The zoned earthfill dam has an outlet works consisting of a concrete conduit through the base of the dam, controlled by two 72-inch hollow-jet valves. The foundation is limey shales and sandstones overlain with silty, sandy clay. Photo credit Reclamation.

    From The North Forty News (Annika Deming):

    Soldier Canyon Water Treatment Authority recently broke ground on a $38.9 million expansion to the water treatment plant in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins-Loveland Water District (FCLWD) receives the majority of the water it provides to 45,000 people in parts of Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath, Windsor and Larimer County from the Soldier Canyon Filter Plant. Slated for a 2021 completion, the project will allow Soldier Canyon to meet peak summer capacity demands without relying on any other plants. It will also improve water quality with the construction of additional taste and odor facilities.

    FCLWD currently receives raw water from the North Poudre Irrigation Company, Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) project, Josh Ames, Divide Canal and Reservoir Company, and Windsor Reservoir Company. Raw Water sources must be treated before being delivered to customers. Most of the water delivered to customers for household usage comes from the Soldier Canyon Filter Plant, which pulls from the Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir. The plant has some of the highest quality water in the area, which is measured and reported on quarterly for the plant, and years for FCLWD. The remainder of the water comes from the City of Fort Collins Water Treatment Facility and the City of Loveland Water Treatment Plant.

    After the Soldier Canyon plant expansion is complete staff will be able to treat 60 million gallons of water per day. They will also have more treatment tools available for taste and odor removal, additional flocculation and sedimentation facilities, and additional contact time for chlorine to inactivate viruses and other pathogens. The expansion will be constructed offline, meaning minimal impact to FCLWD customers. At the end of the project, it will be connected to the existing facility.

    “Our mission has always been to provide high quality, secure, reliable and affordable water to our customers,” says Chris Matkins, FCLWD general manager. “As the district continues to expand, we need to ensure we can continue to provide the highest quality water in the area water to customers. We are always planning for the future and this expansion is part of a multi-prong plan to meet demand and maintain infrastructure.”

    Soldier Canyon Filter Plant, located at the base of Horsetooth Reservoir, treats and distributes water for three local entities: Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, North Weld County Water District and East Larimer County Water District.

    FCLWD has provided water services to businesses and citizens since 1961. The District serves approximately 45,000 people in an area that encompasses approximately 60 square miles in parts of Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath, Windsor and Larimer County. Governed by separately elected Boards of Directors, the Districts provide the full spectrum of high-quality and dependable water treatment and delivery as well as water reclamation services. For additional information about Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, its services and project visit http://www.fclwd.com or follow us on Facebook.

    For additional information and updated on the expansion as well as tips for water conservation and efficiency visit FCLWD’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/fclwd.

    @Northern_Water meets with Larimer County Commissioners to craft IGA for #NISP

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

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Craig Young):

    The meeting between the three commissioners and four members of the board of Northern Water, which has been working since 2002 on the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, was intended as a starting point in the two bodies’ goal to craft an intergovernmental agreement to govern certain aspects of the project.

    The project known as NISP, if it receives final approval later this year or early in 2010 from the Army Corps of Engineers, would result in Glade Reservoir in Larimer County and Galeton Reservoir in Weld County, and a system of pipelines to move water to and from the Poudre River and the South Platte River and to irrigation canals.

    The project, being funded by 11 municipalities and four water districts in northeast Colorado, would be capable of supplying 40,000 acre-feet of water each year…

    Although the meeting was intended as a work session, with no opportunity for public input, more than 30 members of the public filled the chairs set up in the commissioners’ hearing room in Fort Collins and required more to be brought in.

    At a few points in the Northern Water staff members’ presentations, low-level displays of disapproval could be heard from people in the audience.

    The meeting mainly consisted of slide presentations about the three aspects of the project that Larimer County has a say in: the route of the pipeline, the rerouting of 7 miles of U.S. 287 north of Ted’s Place that will be displaced by Glade Reservoir, and recreation on the new reservoir and the property around it.

    The two boards will meet again Sept. 23 to work more substantively toward an eventual intergovernmental agreement on those issues, according to staff members.

    Stephanie Cecil and Christie Coleman, water resources engineers with Northern Water, laid out some details of the three areas before the commissioners:

  • The pipeline in Larimer County would be 32 to 54 inches in diameter.
  • The pipe would be buried, and the construction would require a 100-foot-wide easement along its route during construction and a permanent 60-foot easement for future maintenance.
  • After construction, Northern Water would return the disturbed property to its previous condition or better, Cecil said.
  • U.S. 287 would be moved to the east, and its construction would be completed before Glade Reservoir is finished, to avoid traffic disruptions.
  • The new reservoir would provide about 16,000 surface acres for recreational uses such as boating and fishing.
  • A 170-acre area around Glade Reservoir would feature a visitor center, trails, campgrounds, boat ramp and parking areas, including a lot to allow people to carpool up the Poudre Canyon.
  • The recreational projects that Northern Water has committed to providing were worth $9 million when last calculated. The water conservancy district would arrange with a third party to run the recreation, such as Larimer County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife or a private company.
  • Coleman talked about the public outreach efforts that Northern Water has conducted so far, including the feedback-gathering during the environmental impact statement process, tours, more than 60 public events, informational mailings, one-on-one meetings and the recent launch of a new public-information website, http://nisptalk.com.

    Some activities at Windsor Lake Reservoir are not permitted due to cyanobacteria bloom

    Windsor Lake Reservoir. Photo credit: The Town of Windsor

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Miles Blumhardt):

    Tuesday, Windsor announced it was closing Windsor Lake Reservoir because the water tested positive for cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. The test was conducted Thursday.

    The popular lake’s swim beach and dog beach have been roped off. Swimming, bathing and pets are not allowed in the water. Rentals and concessions will not be available during the closure.

    Permitted motorized and non-motorized boaters are allowed on the lake but tubing and water skiing are not allowed. Boat traffic actually agitates the water and helps reduce the bacteria, which is why it is allowed. Non-motorized boaters can recreate in the reservoir at their own risk.

    “Out of an abundance of caution last week, we issued a precautionary health advisory,” Eric Lucas, Windsor’s Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture, stated in a release. “A new sample has been sent to the state laboratory today and we will continue to test weekly until the bacteria clears up.”

    More ag water protection needed as Northern Colorado keeps booming: expert panel — The Boulder Daily Camera

    Photo credit: Jonathan Thompson

    From The Boulder Daily Camera (Sam Lounsberry):

    With concerns looming large over two expensive proposals to divert one of the Front Range’s most beloved rivers, the Cache la Poudre, to store supply for 15 Northern Colorado water providers and another to transport water out of the basin to Thornton via pipeline, more planning to keep water rights in the region for agricultural use is economically essential.

    That is, unless Front Range residents approve of the disappearance of local farms and the volume of business, environmental benefit and cultural impact provided by the ag sector, panelists at a BizWest-sponsored discussion on water and energy policy said Thursday at the Larimer County Fairgrounds.

    Northern Water is still working through the permitting process for the two reservoirs with hopes of filling them by 2028, while Thornton is suing Larimer County over a land use denial for the pipeline…

    The construction boom across the Front Range has greatly expanded the markets for water shares, especially Colorado-Big Thompson units representing flow brought from the wet Western Slope to the dry Front Range through the Northern Water-managed Colorado-Big Thompson system. Those units can be transferred from farmers to municipalities without the hassle of water court…

    As a result, market pressure has fallen on native basin water owners, whose values also are ticking upward.

    “The level of scarcity has really come to bear since the last economic upturn,” Greeley Water and Sewer Director Sean Chambers said. “Water leaving northern Colorado is an export of our ability to grow now and in the future in a sustainable way. Denver metro economies can still find value even in this hyper-inflated (water) marketplace.”

    […]

    Regulations or legislation to restrict water resources from being transported outside the boundaries of their local basins, though, are likely not a fair solution to farmers, former Northern Water manager Eric Wilkinson contends.

    Because water rights in the state are considered property, agriculturalists should have the option to take advantage of selling them for fair market value, Wilkinson said. New public entities might need to be conceived or old ones redesigned to compete for water rights with the mission of preserving them for local use, he said.

    But building political will for such efforts has been a challenge.While Boulder County taxpayers have funded aggressive open space programs that have resulted in the purchase and protection of vast swaths of farmland, voters in neighboring areas with conservative roots have been more cautious.

    Yet there is urgency to gain the political capital needed to invest in the preservation of farmland through open space programs or otherwise before the land and water become too valuable, and thus tempting for owners to sell. Maps of the growth management areas of the municipalities north and east of Longmont show they have collectively targeted practically all undeveloped land along the Interstate 25 corridor to the Wyoming border.

    “The Greeley City Council is thinking about trying to establish an open space tax of some kind,” Greeley City Manager Roy Otto said in an interview. “But I think to make this work, Weld County as a whole will have to do something like that, as well.”

    Otto added praise for open space programs in Boulder and Larimer counties as a means of protecting land and ag, but said an “honest” education effort about peripheral consequences of limiting the development of municipal boundaries through dedicated open space has to occur with Longmont’s eastern neighbors.

    Timnath Reservoir – Health Advisory/Alert — Town of Timnath

    Here’s the release from the Town of Timnath:

    Timnath Reservoir Health Advisory

    This is a precautionary alert to advise all users of the Timnath Reservoir that Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) may be present in areas of Timnath Reservoir. Blue-Green algae can cause illnesses such as; diarrhea, abdominal pain, eye and skin irritation, and rashes. Experts advise against wading or swimming in areas where Blue-Green Algae is present, and keeping pets and livestock away.

    The photos below were taken At Timnath Reservoir.

    Cyanobacteria blooms Timnath Reservoir July 2019. Photo credit: The Town of Timnath

    How to spot blue-green algae

  • A cyanobacteria bloom can turn water turquoise, bright green, pea green, brown or other unusual shades. Rafts of froth or foam sometimes appear.
  • At times blooms appear along shorelines and in bays and other areas shielded from wind and waves, and often follow periods of hot, calm weather and can persist into the fall.
  • Experts advise against wading or swimming in water with this appearance, and keeping dogs and livestock away.
  • To protect yourself and your pets:

  • avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms
  • Do not swim or wade in water where blue-green algae is visible
  • Do not drink or cook with water from this reservoir
  • Clean fish well and discard guts – avoid eating fish that look unhealthy
  • If contact occurs, wash with clean water as soon as possible
  • If, after being in the reservoir, you or your animals have sudden or unexplained sickness call your doctor or veterinarian.
  • Graphic credit: The Town of Timnath

    Thornton Water Project update

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    Judge Juan Villasenor issued an order in 8th Judicial District Court on Sunday, granting the request of both No Pipe Dream and Save the Poudre to “intervene” in the lawsuit, essentially allowing both groups to back Larimer County’s decision to deny a permit for a section of water pipeline.

    The ruling states that both groups have an interest in the decision of whether the pipeline can be built to carry water from the Poudre River to Thornton, but that “neither organization nor their members’ interests are entirely or adequately represented by the existing parties.”

    […]

    The judge agreed in his ruling that those residents could be adversely affected by the pipeline and rejected Thornton’s argument that they should not have a say in the suit. He ruled that the group does have a legitimate interest in the case and is seeking the same result as the Larimer County — a court decision upholding the commissioners’ permit denial.

    “Thornton contends — facetiously in the Court’s view — that the interests that the No Pipe seeks to protect aren’t germane to its purpose,” the ruling states, stressing that the residents’ interests could be harmed if the pipeline were built along either route.

    “The outcome of this litigation could result in a loss of property through loss of the property itself, use, access or quiet enjoyment,” the ruling states, adding “Thus, No Pipe has an interest in the outcome of the litigation.”

    […]

    The judge also allowed a second group, Save the Poudre, to join the lawsuit because, like No Pipe Dream, the nonprofit was involved in the process all along and is seeking the same result as Larimer County.

    constitutionstateofcolorado
    See Article 7.

    Northern Integrated Supply Project upcoming discussion, July 24 #NISP

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

    Here’s the release from the Larimer County Board of Commissioners:

    The Board of Larimer County Commissioners and three members of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District Board will host a meeting at 1:30 p.m., July 24, 2019, at the Larimer County Courthouse Offices Building First Floor Hearing Room, 200 West Oak St., Fort Collins to discuss the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project [NISP] Intergovernmental Agreement [IGA].

    The IGA will address issues related to recreation, the relocation of U.S. Highway 287 and siting of conveyance pipelines in Larimer County.

    The public is invited to observe the discussion. Staff from Larimer County and Northern Water will be available following the meeting to answer questions from the public and written comments will also be accepted.

    An element of the proposed IGA is to include public meetings and public hearings with Northern Water, the Larimer County Planning Commissioners and Board of Larimer County Commissioners.

    There will be future opportunities for public input and hearings related to Northern Water’s proposal. For more information visit https://www.nisptalk.com/ or https://www.larimer.org/planning/hot-topics/northern-integrated-supply-project-nisp

    #Runoff news: Northern #Colorado rivers have likely peaked for the season

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    The Poudre and Big Thompson rivers are gushing as a wave of warm weather sends mountain snowmelt rushing toward Northern Colorado, but regional officials say flows should taper this week and don’t expect major flooding.

    The Poudre flowed about 4.3 feet high at the Lincoln Street gauge Tuesday afternoon. Its volume of 956 cubic feet per second was nearly three times the median for this time of year…

    A blast of summer heat will bring Fort Collins a string of days with highs above 90 degrees, starting Wednesday and holding on through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Hodges said flood risk isn’t a big concern, though, because so much of the mountain snowpack that feeds the Big Thompson and Poudre rivers has already melted…

    Remaining snowpack is plummeting in both the North Platte and South Platte river basins, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service…

    The onset of summer also means people will divert more water from the Poudre, which loses over 60% of its water before it even gets to Fort Collins…

    The Big Thompson and Poudre rivers have likely already reached their peaks, Hodges said. The Big Thompson reached about 5.8 feet — action stage for flooding is 6.5 — above the canyon mouth on Thursday, according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources…

    The Poudre reached about 5.7 feet at the canyon mouth Friday. Action stage is 6.5 feet. It peaked at about 5.5 feet through town on Friday, well below the action stage of 9 feet.

    From OutThereColorado.com (Spencer McKee):

    The warmer temperatures in Colorado’s mountains are expected to melt quite a bit of snowpack. Be warned that Colorado’s rivers and waterways will be swollen with fast moving and powerful water, making them very dangerous. Three people have died in three separate incidents over the past week in Colorado rivers.

    Greeley Water Pollution Control Facility awarded a National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Peak Performance Platinum 8 Award

    Photo credit: Greeley.gov

    From The Greeley Tribune (Tamara Markard):

    NACWA recognizes wastewater plants that achieve 100% compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) over a consecutive five-year period.

    The Greeley wastewater plant discharges more than 7 million gallons of treated water back into the Poudre River daily. Compliance with permitted requirements ensures that water is safe for downstream users, aquatic habitats, and the environment, according to a Greeley news release…

    The wastewater plant maintains compliance through the operation and support of various systems that remove pollutants from the wastewater. Samples of the water are then tested and analyzed to ensure that the proper treatment has been performed…

    or more information on the plant, water and sewer utilities, or to inquire about a tour, call (970) 350-9360 or visit http://www.greeleygov.com/water.

    Thornton Water Project update

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Larimer County leaders are asking a court to uphold their rejection of the Thornton pipeline.

    The city of Thornton sued Larimer county commissioners in April, asking the Larimer County District Court to overturn the board’s decision and either approve one of the two proposed pipeline routes or force the county to do so. Larimer County commissioners filed their response to Thornton’s lawsuit Monday afternoon.

    The legal battle is the latest twist in a yearslong fight over a proposed pipeline that would carry Poudre River water from reservoirs north of Fort Collins to Thornton…

    Pipeline opponent No Pipe Dream and river advocacy group Save the Poudre both plan to intervene in the lawsuit, those groups’ leaders told the Coloradoan. If the court allows the groups to intervene, they’ll become parties in the lawsuit…

    Commissioners argue the court must affirm their decision if there’s any “competent evidence” in the record supporting it. Competent evidence is a legal term describing evidence that tends to prove a matter in a dispute.

    The county also argues the court doesn’t have the authority to substitute its own judgment on the pipeline path. If the court decides commissioners made the wrong call, it must send the case back to the board for reconsideration and correction, the answer argues.

    Next steps in the lawsuit could include a motion for judgment or a scheduling conference for the parties to discuss the potential of a settlement or plan a discovery period and timeline for a trial.

    Map via ThorntonWaterProject.com

    Larimer County is still waiting for $20 million from FEMA for repairs after 2013 floods

    Damage to US 34 along the Big Thompson River September 2013. Photo credit: CDOT

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Nearly six years after the Big Thompson River flood wrecked U.S. Highway 34, stranded Estes Park and wiped out bridges and homes, the U.S. government has yet to fund $20 million of repairs in Larimer County.

    The county hasn’t started construction on County Road 47 (Big Elk Meadows) and County Road 44H (Buckhorn) because of the lack of funding. The county finished work on Big Thompson River bridges destroyed and rebuilt after the flood but hasn’t been reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the project.

    The delay in FEMA funding for Larimer County’s last three flood recovery projects has county officials in a bind: As another construction season looms without federal money, so does a crucial state deadline.

    Colorado’s general fund has paid for about 13% of Larimer County’s flood restoration work since 2013. Come September 2020, state funding for the projects will dry up.

    “We will not be able to meet that deadline with the delays we’ve had because of this issue,” said Lori Hodges, Larimer County emergency management director. “Our biggest projects are at risk because we haven’t gotten the guidance we need.”

    The holdup is essentially a bureaucratic issue. Congress passed a law in October 2018 changing the way FEMA awards money for disaster recovery work.

    FEMA used to deny funding for all projects that didn’t meet a strict set of code compliance guidelines. The guidelines had little wiggle room for projects on roads and bridges in complex terrain — like the ones destroyed by the flood in the Big Thompson canyon. For example, a road repair in a narrow, rocky canyon probably couldn’t meet FEMA’s requirement for shoulder width.

    The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 instructed FEMA to award money for projects that don’t meet the strict guidelines as long as a local engineer signs off on the work and agrees a waiver is necessary. Congress gave FEMA 60 days to give its regional offices guidance on how to award funding under the new law.

    But FEMA hasn’t done that yet, so regional officials won’t fund the implicated Larimer County projects, Hodges said. FEMA Region 8 spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough told the Coloradoan the office paused a Larimer County funding appeal as it waits for policy guidance from headquarters…

    CR 47, partially destroyed by the flood, branches off U.S. Highway 36 between Lyons and Estes Park. The road is accessible but unpaved. An 11-mile stretch of CR 44H, located in Buckhorn Canyon and the Roosevelt National Forest, was heavily damaged in the flood and the High Park Fire in 2012.

    noosa yoghurt and Morning Fresh Dairy named Northeast Region Partner of the Year — #Colorado Parks and Wildlife

    Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

    Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

    The Graves family, owners of Morning Fresh Dairy and noosa yoghurt, was honored Thursday night with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region Partner of the Year Award for 2019.

    The award was announced at the annual Partners in the Outdoors Conference awards dinner held at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center.

    The Graves’ were nominated by CPW Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Jason Surface. Rob and Lori Graves were on hand at Thursday’s dinner and banquet to accept the award.

    “The entire Graves family, and Rob in particular, deserve this award for their unwavering commitment to the natural resources of Colorado and the mission of CPW,” Surface said. “Through all facets of his life, Rob has recognized the importance of connecting all Coloradoans, including his employees, children, grandchildren and community members to their natural resources and building successful partnerships.”

    Rob Graves is co-founder of noosa yoghurt and the Graves family owns a sixth generation dairy farm, Morning Fresh Dairy, in Bellvue, Colo.

    The Graves family epitomizes a CPW partnership and has improved the state’s natural resources through stewardship, education, and monetary contribution.

    The recently completed fish ladder at the Watson State Wildlife Area and Watson Lake is one recent project that exemplifies their commitment and generosity, and it will be on display next week with the ribbon cutting ceremony to showcase the project’s completion. Graves has been heavily involved with the project from its inception in 2016, funding the conceptual design in 2017 and his leadership and contributions were instrumental in moving the habitat improvement project a reality.

    The Watson Lake fish ladder is reconnecting over two river miles on what was a fragmented Poudre River. The stretch there at Watson Lake contains important spawning habitat and deep pool that provides refuge for aquatic life.

    “The Graves family have been and continue to be a great partner to CPW and truly help us achieve the goals laid out in both our Strategic Plan and Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP),” Surface said.

    “Both of these plans emphasize the importance of wildlife conservation, outdoor stewardship and connecting people to the great outdoors by providing sustainable access and opportunities to outdoor recreation. These are goals they believe deeply in and he has made these a priority for not only himself, but his family, employees and the community of Bellvue as well.”

    There are many arenas where the Graves’ family plays a hand in sharing the mission of CPW through conservation and community enhancement.

    They develop and make outdoor stewardship ethics a priority, organize volunteer work and maintenance on our public lands, particularly at the Watson State Wildlife Area that they have adopted as their own. They organize and host events like the Pleasant Valley Days, which is focused on bringing the community together and getting people of all ages outdoors.

    The ribbon cutting event for the Watson Lake fish ladder is taking place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at 11 a.m.

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Ribbon cutting at Watson Lake fish ladder rescheduled for May 1

    Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

    Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

    The ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of the fish ladder at Watson Lake has been rescheduled and will now take place on May 1 at 11 a.m.

    It was originally set for April 12, but due to inclement weather during that week, was postponed.

    Watson Lake is located in Bellvue, Colo., just west of Laporte, on Rist Canyon Road.

    More Information:
    Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) along with funding partners noosa yoghurt, Northern Water, Morning Fresh Dairy, Poudre Heritage Alliance and Trout Unlimited will celebrate the completion of the fish ladder at Watson Lake.

    The collaborative project is helping to reconnect a fragmented Poudre River. The stretch contains important spawning habitat and deep pools that provide refuge for aquatic life. This Watson Lake fish ladder is reconnecting over two river miles. The group hopes this will be one of many ladders along the Poudre River that will allow fish to travel freely upstream and downstream, improving the health of the fishery and the ecosystem without impacting water delivery.

    Noosa yoghurt has been heavily involved with the project from its inception in 2016, funding the conceptual design in 2017. The vision for noosa has always been to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

    “The Poudre River is a treasure in Northern Colorado,” said Stephanie Giard, community outreach coordinator for noosa yoghurt. “The project area is frequently visited by neighbors in the Pleasant Valley for fishing, birdwatching, or just enjoying nature. It is our responsibility to protect this valuable resource in our community.”

    Watson Lake Diversion Structure is a channel spanning structure that represented a complete barrier to all upstream fish movement in the Poudre River. The structure delivers water to the Watson State Fish Hatchery and is owned and operated by CPW. The new fish ladder allows for passage through the diversion for all species present within the river reach including longnose dace, longnose suckers, white suckers, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

    Designed by OneFish Engineering and built by L4 Environmental, the fish ladder at the Watson Diversion was completed in record time. Biologists and engineers from across CPW came together to work with OneFish Engineering to find the optimal design to provide upstream fish movement through the diversion structure. The construction project started in November at the end of the irrigation season. It had to be completed before spring runoff, which can start as early as March. The project was blessed with ideal weather for construction this winter.

    “This project will improve river connectivity and benefit the aquatic resources by allowing fish to move freely back upstream as they wish,” CPW Aquatic Biologist Kyle Battige said. “Outside of the benefits to aquatic life, this project is important as it showcases the feasibility of fish passage at these large diversion structures and will hopefully further momentum for these types of projects. It also serves as an example of the collaboration and team effort from multiple entities that these large-scale conservation projects will have to have in order to be successful in today’s world.”

    Northern Water General Manager Brad Wind said this project will be an example of future cooperative efforts on the river.

    “This will be the first of several projects like these to create a healthier Poudre River for generations to come,” he said. “Northern Water and the NISP participants are proud to have been part of the cooperative effort to get this project completed.”

    “This is a first step in improving the health and resiliency of the Poudre River,” said Rob Graves, owner of Morning Fresh Dairy and co-founder of noosa yoghurt. “Through collaboration, we can preserve and protect this critical natural resource that flows through our community.

    “The river has played an important role in our business and in our family for over 100 years and we want to protect it for generations to come. We hope this project and future projects will be the legacy of our family and Morning Fresh Dairy.”

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

    Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

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

    Fish passage begins its work reconnecting Poudre River segments

    Construction crews have completed a new fish passage along the Poudre River at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area northwest of Fort Collins.

    Built with the cooperation of the participants of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, noosa yoghurt and Morning Fresh Dairy, the passage serves to reconnect stretches of river that had been separated by a diversion dam.

    Fort Collins company OneFish Engineering designed the project, and the construction company L4 Environmental built it over the past four months.

    A dedication ceremony for the new structure is planned for early May. The Poudre Heritage Alliance and Trout Unlimited are also providing assistance, and a public celebration for the new passage is planned during the Pleasant Valley Rendezvous on June 2 at Watson Lake.

    The City of Thornton files lawsuit over Larimer County’s denial of 1041 permit

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Thornton has filed a lawsuit against Larimer County commissioners in protest of their rejection of the Thornton pipeline, kicking off a legal battle on the Poudre River.

    The city is asking the Larimer County District Court to overturn the commissioners’ decision and either approve one of the two proposed pipeline routes or force the county to do so.

    Thornton’s complaint, filed in the Larimer County District Court on Tuesday night, argues the Board of Commissioners’ decision “exceeds its jurisdiction and/or is contrary to law, misinterprets and misapplies its criteria, and was arbitrary and capricious because its findings lack competent evidence to support the Board’s denial of Thornton’s application.”

    In a statement, city spokesman Todd Barnes said Thornton “has taken action to represent the interests and property rights of their constituents.”

    […]

    Thornton’s water plans wouldn’t diminish flows in the Poudre River because the project’s water is already diverted from the river for agriculture. But the “Poudre River alternative,” which would involve running Thornton’s water down the river and nixing the northern segment of the pipeline, picked up considerable public support during a series of hearings on the project.

    “In discussion of Thornton’s proposal during the hearings, it is clear that the Board, contrary to its authority, factored into its decision the notion that Thornton should not build a pipeline but rather send its water down the Cache la Poudre River or down the Larimer County canal,” Thornton wrote in its complaint.

    City of Thornton Larimer County 1041 permit update

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    The city of Thornton plans to sue Larimer County over commissioners’ rejection of the Thornton pipeline proposal, according to the county’s attorney.

    Larimer County attorney Jeannine Haag told the Coloradoan she learned Thornton would be filing a lawsuit when she called the city’s attorney and asked whether the city would pursue legal action contesting the pipeline decision.

    Thornton will file a lawsuit in Larimer County District Court next week, Haag said. Thornton spokesman Todd Barnes told the Coloradoan the city doesn’t comment on issues of potential litigation…

    Thornton officials have kept quiet about their plans since commissioners unanimously rejected their proposal to build a pipeline to carry Poudre River water through Larimer County. Thornton leaders said they wouldn’t decide what to do until they could review commissioners’ written explanation of the vote. Commissioners approved that document March 18…

    It was also possible that Thornton officials would pursue an agreement with the city of Greeley, which has extra capacity in a water pipeline that might have been useful for Thornton. The cities met on the matter last month.

    In the written explanation of their decision on the pipeline, Larimer County commissioners said Thornton didn’t meet eight of the 12 criteria for the 1041 permit required to build the pipeline. The commissioners’ ruling was the county’s first-ever rejection of a 1041 permit.

    Commissioners wrote that Thornton didn’t meet the following criteria:

  • The proposal is consistent with the county’s master plan for land use and development
  • The applicant presented reasonable siting or design alternatives or explained why no reasonable alternatives are available
  • The proposal conforms with county standards and mitigation requirements for environmental impacts
  • The proposal won’t have a significant adverse effect on the land on which it’s situated and adjacent land, or will adequately mitigate significant adverse effects
  • The proposal won’t negatively impact public heath and safety
  • The benefits of proposed development outweigh the losses of any natural resources or resulting reduction of productivity of agricultural lands
  • The proposal demonstrates a reasonable balance between the costs to the applicant to mitigate significant adverse effects and the benefits achieved by that mitigation
  • @Northern_Water: “Water Secure” and #NISP

    From Northern Water:

    A key element of NISP, the “Water Secure” program represents a shift away from “buy-and-dry” and is instead an outside-the-box approach to meeting the future water needs of Northern Colorado’s growing communities while also preserving our vital ag industry and environment.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Northern Water will have to buy “dozens and dozens” of Larimer and Weld county farms to lock down enough Poudre River water to fill a proposed reservoir for the planned Northern Integrated Supply Project.

    The unprecedented approach could substantially raise the price of NISP, a $1.2 billion storage and delivery project funded by the 15 Northern Colorado municipalities and water districts that will use the water. Northern Water leaders say the approach will also prevent the dry-up of thousands of acres of farmland in Larimer and Weld counties because the agency won’t strip the properties of water.

    Instead of taking the buy-and-dry route of diverting a purchased property’s water rights to a new use, Northern Water plans to trade its South Platte River water rights for the farms’ Poudre River water rights. That means Northern Water will divert water from the Poudre River to store in the proposed Glade Reservoir and give the farmers a slightly larger portion of South Platte water from the proposed Galeton Reservoir.

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

    Northern Water’s newly minted Water Secure program addresses a giant question mark that has lingered on the NISP road map for more than 15 years: The agency only has about half of the Poudre River water it needs for NISP. But it does have a lot of water from the South Platte River, which is less-suited for drinking than Poudre water and more expensive to treat.

    This problem has never been a secret, but until now, Northern Water’s public plans included the assumption that farmers would willingly trade their water with the agency for free.

    Those voluntary exchanges aren’t off the table, but Northern Water now plans to secure much of the water it needs by buying farms in two irrigation ditch systems — the New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Co. and the Larimer and Weld Irrigation Co. Once Northern Water owns those farms and their water, the agency will essentially be trading water with itself.

    “We’ve just become the most willing shareholder on the ditch,” said Greg Dewey, a Northern Water water resources engineer and Water Secure project manager.

    How we got here

    Shares of Poudre River water in the New Cache la Poudre and Larimer and Weld ditches are coveted because they’re senior water rights, which means their owners have first dibs for usage. That becomes important during dry years when there isn’t enough water for everyone who’s claimed a slice of an overallocated pie.

    Senior water shares are crucial for NISP because Northern Water’s current Poudre River supply (known as the Grey Mountain right) is a junior water right that will only be useful during wet years.

    Dewey called Water Secure’s approach a “risk management strategy” born during negotiations with the two ditch companies. He said it became clear that the farms Northern Water was eyeing for trades are vulnerable to buy-and-dry, a controversial practice that has fed Colorado population growth at the expense of irrigated farmland.

    “If that happens over the long-term, that jeopardizes our ability to exchange water with those systems,” Dewey said. “So this is a way to help preserve that exchange and also (address) a common interest we have with those companies to keep water in the system.”

    Northern Water unveiled the Water Secure program in February after closing a deal on its first farm, a 28-acre property northeast of Greeley. The farm cost $330,000 and came with 30 acre-feet of Poudre River water. Northern Water will need to buy “dozens and dozens” of farms to secure about 25,000 acre-feet’s worth of water exchanges for NISP, spokesman Brian Werner said. An acre-foot of water meets the annual needs of about three or four urban households…

    [Brian] Werner said staff is still evaluating how Water Secure will affect the price of NISP. He said the cost impact will depend on the ratio of farm purchases to willful water exchanges — and how much money Northern Water makes when it eventually sells the farms back to farmers.

    Northern Water plans to pursue legal contracts that permanently bind the water to the farmland regardless of its owner, which would shield the farms from buy-and-dry and protect the agency’s water exchange agreements. The water provider plans to lease the land to the original owner or another farmer until selling it to another entity that would be required to keep the South Platte River water on the property.

    “If we buy a farm and establish that water agreement, then we’ll be looking to sell it back into private hands,” Northern Water spokesman Jeff Stahla said. “Our goal is not to be the major landowner up there.”

    […]

    The legal agreements, likely conservation easements or covenants, would be the first of their kind in the region if not the state. Boulder County leaders have found success with a similar approach for preserving open space, Werner said.

    He argued more federal review is unnecessary because Northern Water has included the water exchanges in its NISP planning documents since at least 2004. Northern Water’s water court decree for the South Platte River water allows the trades.

    Dewey, a Kersey native and former farmer, is Northern Water’s “boots on the ground” for the program, Werner said. Dewey said Water Secure is getting positive feedback from farmers who’ve watched irrigated agriculture dwindle in Larimer and Weld counties.

    Poudre River Forum recap

    Cache la Poudre River. Photo credit: Greg Hobbs

    From The North Forty News (Gary Ratham):

    It’s important to pick metaphors carefully. Writers try to explain complex subjects in few words and in ways everyone can understand. Metaphors — words or phrases that imply that one thing can symbolically represent another — become one way to accomplish that task. This thought crossed my mind when I attended the 6th Annual Poudre River Forum on Feb. 1. (See http://prti.colostate.edu/forum_2019.shtml)

    Trying to sort out what allows a river to serve human needs while still providing the ecological services that keeps the world over which it flows alive is about as complex a problem as one can imagine. So, I picked my article title carefully. Rivers do not deliver water like a concrete ditch. Instead, like the arteries and veins of a living organism, they convey not only water, but also oxygen, nutrients and host of microbial servants to needed destinations in the biosphere. As we use a river’s resources for human needs, we should take her pulse regularly to ensure the health of the greater body she nourishes.

    MaryLou Smith via the Colorado Water institute.

    After attending the forum last year, I wrote a four-month series in the “North Forty News” that ran from March to June 2018. Please refer to that for background information on some of the basic issues of Poudre River ecology and management. This year I would like to focus on some of the people who make the forum work, and the process of talking TO each other rather than AT each other. That process was largely established under the leadership of MaryLou Smith, policy and collaboration specialist with the Colorado Water Center at Colorado State University. Since she will retire after this year, someone else must replace her leadership — and her optimism.

    John Stokes, head of the Natural Areas Department of the city of Fort Collins, made a special point of highlighting Smith’s optimism. It’s easy to get pessimistic about complex problems with no simple solutions, but Smith manages to stay upbeat. She says she has “devoted her career to encouraging an open dialogue between people.” That was exemplified in 2011 when the concept for the Forum first developed.

    In 2011, Ray Caraway, chief executive officer of Community Foundations of Northern Colorado, invited Smith to host a community forum discussing issues relating to NISP — the Northern Integrated Supply Project (https://www.northernwater.org/sf/nisp/home) — a collection of communities along the Front Range intending to build Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins. Opposed by Friends of the Poudre and other conservation groups, Smith felt that a conference built solely around NISP would tend to create more polarization. She proposed the Poudre River Forum instead, with the intent of bringing together a wide swath of people from agriculture, urban planning, recreation, conservation and business — all with a stake in maintaining “a healthy working river.”

    This year, approximately 360 people met to have that discussion — roughly, a 17 percent increase over last year. Smith said she was gratified that discussions at the various tables seemed earnest and forthright. They listened to water commissioners, city managers, water lawyers, engineers, ecologists, farmers, conservationists, land developers, and others. The keynote speaker, Professor Edward B. Barbier, from the Department of Economics at Colorado State University, tackled the growing problem of water scarcity. (Yale University Press will release his new book about this problem, “Water Paradox,” in February.)

    Another Colorado State researcher, Brad Udall (not in attendance at this conference), highlighted this problem in a 2017 study published in “Water Resources Research.” Colorado River flows in the 21st century are 19 percent lower than those in the 20th. Predicted flows could drop by up to 55 percent by 2100 as a consequence of global warming. (See “Re-engineering the Colorado River” in the February issue of Scientific American.) We can expect similar reduced flows in the Poudre River.

    Ecologist Dr. LeRoy Poff from Colorado State said, “We need to face up to the ecological damage our pioneering spirit has caused to the Poudre River.” To do that requires gathering the data necessary to understand just what makes a river healthy. In an online report (https://natsci.source.colostate.edu/sustainable-dams-possible-csu-expert-weighs/) he said, “As a researcher, I am concerned about biodiversity conservation, and about sustaining rivers at a level of functional integrity that enables them to provide both biodiversity support as well as ecosystem goods and services.”

    @Northern_Water: Farm purchase part of #NISP effort to ensure water-secure future for local communities and agriculture

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

    Here’s the release from Northern Water (Brian Werner):

    The recent purchase of a Weld County farm marks a new venture for Northern Water and Northern Integrated Supply Project participants – one that’s part of the ongoing, collaborative effort to secure future water supplies for both the region’s communities and our vital agricultural industry.
    On Jan. 31, Northern Water and the NISP participants purchased a 28-acre farm northeast of Greeley and the property’s water rights. The farm was purchased through the NISP Water Secure program, a cooperative effort to maintain the exchange of water for NISP while keeping water on participating farms. This investment is a shift from the “buy-and-dry” approach that has stressed our agricultural communities.

    This innovative program will eventually provide supplemental water to approximately 500,000 residents in northern Colorado while preserving thousands of acres of irrigated farmland. Water Secure is part of a strategic long-term plan to better plan for future growth and to consistently apply Colorado Water Plan principles to protect water for our communities, farms and the environment. Without innovative approaches such as Water Secure, the region is on pace to see hundreds of thousands of irrigated acres dried up by mid-century.

    “This is an outside-the-box, ‘buy-and-supply’ approach we’re taking to address the tightening water supplies facing Northern Colorado and its future generations,” said Northern Water General Manager Brad Wind.

    The recently purchased farm sits within an area of Weld County that is key to NISP – a project that, once built, will include Glade Reservoir near Fort Collins and Galeton Reservoir near Ault, and deliver approximately 40,000 acre-feet of water annually to 15 local communities and water districts.

    As part of the project, Northern Water and the NISP participants are working with the New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Company and Larimer and Weld Irrigation Company ditch and reservoir systems in Weld County, to use a portion of their senior water rights in exchanges that will ensure the NISP participants receive the water from the project.

    These exchanges with the two systems will keep water flowing to those farms, as well as include compensation that will enhance the long-term viability of their operations.

    To avoid water leaving those farms permanently through buy and dry purchases from other entities, Northern Water will buy land and water from willing sellers to ensure those supplies remain in the two ditch systems and available for exchange.

    The senior water rights in the New Cache and Larimer-Weld systems are currently among the most sought after by water providers looking to obtain future supplies.
    Farms in the New Cache and Larimer-Weld systems bought by Northern Water will remain in production, through limited land use easements on the property, lease-back agreements or other arrangements that will require continued irrigation on those farms.

    Furthermore, the purchase of any irrigated lands will be done with the goal of eventually returning them to private ownership.

    “The Water Secure program maintains irrigated agriculture and provides open space benefits while eliminating many of the long-term challenges with the practice of buying and drying,” Wind added.

    To learn more about NISP, go to http://www.gladereservoir.org.

    From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

    As part of the newly implemented Water Secure program, Northern Water purchased the 28-acre farm northeast of Greeley on Jan. 31 with communities that participate in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which will result in two reservoirs and more water for 15 communities…

    Instead of municipalities buying up water rights on farmland and leaving them to dry out, the district is looking at the initiative as a way to both preserve irrigated farmland and provide supplemental water to an estimated 500,000 northern Colorado residents.

    During a phone interview Thursday, Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said it’s critical to make sure water is delivered annually to farms.

    “It’s what makes this project work,” he said. “Keeping water on farms, as opposed to the good old way it’s been done in the past in this state. The American West, you bought land and you dried it up. We’re buying it and we’re calling it ‘buy and supply’ rather than buy and dry. So we need to keep the water on the property.”

    This is how the program will work:

    Northern Water and the NISP participants, which include Evans and Windsor, will work with the New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Company and the Larimer and Weld Irrigation Company ditch and reservoir systems in Weld County to use a portion of their senior water rights to make sure the NISP communities get water from the project.

    In turn, the exchanges with the two systems will ensure water keeps flowing to participating farms and include compensation. Farms in both systems purchased by Northern Water will remain in production through arrangements such as limited land use easements and lease-back agreements.

    “To avoid water leaving those farms permanently through buy and dry purchases from other entities, Northern Water will buy land and water from willing sellers to ensure those supplies remain in the two ditch systems and available for exchange,” according to the news release.

    For the district, getting rights from both systems is significant — senior water rights in New Cache and Larimer-Weld systems are among the most sought after by water providers who are looking for supplies.

    Werner said the company isn’t sure yet how much the district will invest in the program but said it will likely take millions of dollars.

    Still, Northern officials emphasized that the purchase of any irrigated land will happen with an end goal in sight: return the farms to private ownership again eventually.

    Windsor town board OKs rate hike

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

    From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

    The Windsor Town Board voted unanimously Monday to approve the second water rate increase of the year for residents as officials look to strengthen their plans to add more water supplies.

    The increase will bring rates up by an additional 6.21 percent, a hike that will appear on water bills April 1. In December, the board approved an annual increase of 3.29 percent that will be reflected on the March bill.

    For water users, the increase means average single-family monthly consumption charges will be about $38.37. In 2018, bills were $35.06 per month on average.

    During Monday’s meeting, town board said they didn’t come to the decision to raise the rates easily.

    When one resident expressed concerned about how the rate increase might impact residents, Mayor Kristie Melendez said town officials came to the decision over several meetings…

    The town, which currently owns shares in the North Poudre Irrigation Company and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, is seeking to strengthen its participation in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a massive project that will result in two new reservoirs and serve 11 communities and four water districts along the Front Range…

    As it stands now, Windsor owns 4,100 acre-feet of water. But it’s going to need another 15,800 acre-feet in the future to keep up with demand, officials said…

    In the town’s agreement with Northern Water, which manages the supply project, the town is scheduled to pay $100 million to the project by 2026, Town Manager Shane Hale said. The town won’t have enough money on its own to pay for that, he said, so officials will need a base of between $30 million and $33 million to issue debt to help pay for the cost in the future.

    Of the total cost Windsor will pay toward NISP, 12 percent will come from water users who will pay the rate approved Monday. The other 88 percent comes from town development fees.

    But Hale said town officials didn’t want to place the burden solely on developers and discourage them from coming to Windsor.

    Windsor has worked with consulting firms since 2009 to work on ways to secure water. Most recently, officials worked with Stantec Consulting to develop a plan to pay for Windsor’s place in the water supply project and operations, including collecting, cleaning, filtering, disinfecting and testing water.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Windsor’s residential water rates will increase by 6.21 percent to help fund the town’s involvement in the Northern Integrated Supply Project…

    The rate increase, paired with another increase that took effect Jan. 1, will raise the average single-family residential water bill from $35.06 a month in 2018 to $38.37 a month in 2019.

    Windsor is one of 15 municipalities and water districts that will receive water from the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, a proposal to build two new reservoirs and fill them with Poudre River water. Participants are funding the costs of the project, and Windsor’s involvement will cost over $100 million, according to Mayor Kristie Melendez…

    The town is looking to ratepayers to fund about 12 percent of the project cost. The other 88 percent will come from a water resource fee leveled on each new home in Windsor, an approach that Melendez called “growth pays for growth.”

    […]

    NISP will supply about 3,300 more acre-feet if it jumps through all regulatory hoops. An acre-foot of water is equivalent to the average annual water use of 2 to 3 urban households.

    In all, NISP is expected to provide about 40,000 acre-feet of water to its participants. Windsor’s share of NISP is the third-largest among municipalities involved in the project.

    The two proposed NISP reservoirs include Glade Reservoir, which would be located near Ted’s Place north of Fort Collins, and Galeton Reservoir, which would be located northeast of Greeley.

    For comparison’s sake, Glade Reservoir’s capacity of 170,000 acre-feet is about 108 percent of the capacity of Horsetooth Reservoir. Galeton would hold about 46,000 acre-feet.

    The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to issue a record of decision on NISP in 2019. Affirmation from the Army Corps will likely trigger a legal challenge from NISP opponent Save the Poudre. Northern Water expects to begin storage in Glade Reservoir in 2025.

    Sixth Annual Poudre River Forum, February 1, 2019

    Click here for all the inside skinny. Click here to register. Click here to view the program:

    Is it possible for a working river to be a healthy river? This years Poudre River Forum will give us a chance to puzzle through that question. The Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group (PRTI) was formed in 2012 to bring together those who are most concerned about the Poudre as a working river—delivering urban and agricultural economic benefits—and those concerned about the river’s health. Building relationships and finding common ground for action has led to this annual Poudre River Forum.

    Register now to join us! Registration includes the full day’s program, as well as breakfast, lunch, and a closing beer/soft drinks celebration with opportunities get to know other Poudre River enthusiasts.

    Featuring Keynote Speaker, Ed Barbier
    Author of Water Paradox and CSU Professor of Economics
    Barbier’s book, to be released by Yale University Press in February 2019, is touted as
    “a radical new approach to tackling the growing threat of water scarcity.”

    ALSO ON THE PROGRAM...

    Water Rights: Answers to frequently asked questions like: What gives Thornton rights to take Poudre water south? What kind of water right does Northern Water have for filling Glade Reservoir if NISP is approved? How are water rights expanded to benefit habitat and recreation? Does the new whitewater park in downtown Ft. Collins have any impact on agricultural water rights? How are Poudre water rights administered? Does having water rights include responsibility for water quality?

    Thinking Outside the (Puzzle) Box: What are the looming challenges for the Poudre and are there any new approaches we might take to tackle them?

    Water Sharing: Experiments underway that apply creativity and collaboration toward working/healthy river balance.

    And more! Click here to view the full program.

    Cache la Poudre River from South Trail via Wikimedia Foundation.

    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.

    Thornton looks to boost Cache La Poudre flow

    Cache la Poudre River May 2018. Photo credit: Greg Hobbs

    From the Thornton Northglenn Sentinel (Scott Taylor):

    A Thornton plan to improve the flows of water through Cache Poudre River isn’t meant to clear the way for a drinking pipeline Larimer County officials demurred on this summer — but it might help.

    Thornton City Councilors pledged their support to an effort called Poudre Flows with Greeley and Fort Collins officials, the Cache La Poudre Water Users Association and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to redirect an estimated 3,000 acre-feet of water Thornton owns to flow through the river annually.

    “All along the river there are flow targets, flow rates set by the Colorado Department of Park and Wildlife, that required to keep the fish alive in the river,” Thornton Water Resources Manager Emily Hunt said. “There’s a higher threshold required to improve the environment to a reasonable degree and those are the flows we are trying to reach.”

    […]

    But it’s not as easy as turning on a spigot, Hunt said, and Thornton and the coalition behind the Poudre Flows proposal need to negotiate difficult legal and water rights issues before it can happen.

    “Say we dump that water someplace upstream and we hope to deliver it some 20 miles downstream,” Hunt said. “If there’s no specific water right associated with that water, any user can come along and divert it themselves. And the users downstream that own those rights lose it.”

    The coalition hopes to designate that water as an “instream flow,” but that’s a designated water right that only the state can hold currently. The coalition will have to work to get that instream flow designation recognized.

    If the Colorado Water Conservation Board signs off on the idea, the Poudre Flows coalition can file a request with the state Water Court. Hunt said she expects a decision from the conservation board early in 2019.

    Hunt said the coalition and the City of Thornton have been working on the plan for three years.

    “But made public now, because”

    @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.

    Thornton plans to release 3,000AF for Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins

    Cache la Poudre River from South Trail via Wikimedia Foundation.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    Thornton leaders plan to lend up to 3,000 acre-feet of water to the ailing Poudre River.

    The effort is part of a long-term plan to create a virtual barter market on the Poudre, where cities, farmers and ditch companies can lend their water rights to a stretch of the river before taking it back at a downstream point. Thornton is working with Fort Collins, Greeley, Northern Water and other stakeholders on the so-called Poudre Flows project.

    The Poudre Flows project still needs sign-off from Colorado’s water court. Thornton leaders and other stakeholders previously told the Coloradoan they’re planning to carry out the project without infringing on other people’s water rights.

    #SeamanFire update

    Outline of the watershed above Seaman Reservoir via CoCoRaHS and the Colorado Climate Center. The Seaman Fire is pinned near the S. side.

    Noah from the Colorado Climate Center sent along this information about the Seaman Fire near Seaman Reservoir. I asked if the fire was in the Seaman Reservoir watershed which is Greeley’s water supply. It is. If it gets over the hill Fort Collins’ and other municipal supplies can be affected from burn scar runoff:

    Yes, but just over the hill puts it into another watershed of the main branch of the Poudre. Check out the CoCoRaHS watershed map to see how Seaman is in the HUC [watershed] for Rabbit Creek –North Fork Cache La Poudre and just south of the reservoir – up the hillside – is the Gordon Creek-Cache La Poudre River.

    [Link to the CoCoRaHS mapping tool: https://cocorahs.erams.com/locations/seaman%20reservoir,%20co

    Seaman Reservoir upstream of confluence of the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River. Photo credit Greg Hobbs.

    Cache la Poudre River: Fort Collins, Greeley, Thornton, and other stakeholders are drafting a plan to mitigate low streamflow

    Cache la Poudre River May 2018. Photo credit: Greg Hobbs

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacey Marmaduke):

    A group of Northern Colorado water users and stakeholders is quietly piecing together a plan to prevent that from happening down the road. If the group’s efforts succeed, their plan could increase flows in the Poudre through Fort Collins and beyond. It could also mitigate the impacts of future water storage projects.

    The project is somewhere between back-of-the-napkin and final draft stage, but the goal is to create a virtual barter market on the Poudre where cities, farmers and ditch companies can lend their water rights to a stretch of the river before taking it back further downstream. Fort Collins, Greeley, Thornton and other stakeholders are involved in the project, which has been in the works for years.

    “All these diverse interests are collaborating and cooperating on an approach to help flows in the Poudre,” said Linda Bassi, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Stream and Lake Protection Section chief. “Everyone’s putting all their brain power into it to find a way to make it work.”

    The Poudre starts running out of water as soon as it tumbles from the canyon mouth. More than 20 major diversions suck water from the river before it even gets to Fort Collins…

    For decades, the river that fostered growth in Northern Colorado communities has been plagued with low flows and dry spots that hurt recreation, tourism, water quality and flood resilience.

    Preserving river flows “is not just about ecology and fish,” Fort Collins Natural Areas Director John Stokes said. “It’s also about how we manage this volatile natural system in order to create all the co-benefits we care about.”

    The cities, joined by the Cache la Poudre Water Users Association, Colorado Water Trust, Colorado Water Conservation Board and Northern Water, are parsing nearly 50 miles of the Poudre into five segments running from the canyon to the river’s confluence with the South Platte. They’re working together to decide target flows for each section and draft a water court application.

    A lot of crucial details still need to be worked out: The water users involved in the plan need to identify “seed water” for the project and figure out where to release it and where to pick it back up. The organizers say it’s crucial to craft a plan that doesn’t infringe on other people’s water rights.

    Putting the plan in action could take years, if it works. But Poudre water users have already spent decades trying to tackle the problem of low river flows.

    The Poudre was the birthplace of western water law, a notoriously complex system that allows people who possess older or “senior” water rights to use their water before junior users. Seniority becomes important during dry times when there might not be any water left for the users at the end of the line.

    Our water laws have allowed cities, farmers and industry to coexist along the Poudre, but the system can make it hard to keep water in the river.

    “There really isn’t any water out there that isn’t going to be managed and used and owned by somebody,” Stokes said.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board is the only entity in the state allowed to hold a water right purely for the purpose of preserving or enhancing river flows. Everyone else must prove they’re using the water for something else, like municipal drinking supply or irrigation.

    The board has a couple ways to protect water in rivers: It can create a new, junior water right, or it can buy an older water right from someone else.

    “Both of those have limitations,” said Emily Hunt, water resources manager for city of Thornton. “Appropriating new water rights on a stream that’s already stressed isn’t going to get you very far, because you’re at the end of the line. And acquiring senior water rights requires a willing seller and money.”

    The new approach is different because it would basically allow water users to temporarily sell or lease their water to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. That means the water would be protected from diversions or exchanges and the user that loaned the water would be able to take it back downstream.

    “There’s currently no mechanism to protect that flow from point A to point B,” Hunt said. “That’s the real issue. If entities are going to voluntarily do this, we want to make sure the water is protected.”

    The planning group was born as a sub-group of the local Poudre Runs Through It work group. Colorado Water Trust, a statewide group that works to restore river flows, pitched the concept. It’s essentially a scaled-up version of the program that allows the Colorado Water Conservation Board to purchase senior water rights, said Zach Smith, Colorado Water Trust’s staff attorney.

    Building the legal foundation for the water transactions ahead of time will simplify the process, and the program will also offer flexibility because people who participate won’t be obligated to put water in the program every year, Smith said.

    “Colorado already has a water market,” Smith said. “Water rights are property rights, and they’re bought and sold all the time. A program like this just gives the environment a seat at the table.”

    The group could submit its application to Colorado water court as early as next year. Group leaders plan to conduct more outreach with Poudre River water users to help them nail down the specifics of the plan.

    “People are committed to solving the problem,” Hunt said. “This is one approach. It has some legs and we hope it keeps them, but by no means are we there yet.”

    Poem: Poudre Heritage — Greg Hobbs

    Poudre Heritage

    O, my Lady,
    how you lead me along

    Wherever water is
    there I am.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Greg Hobbs 5/17/2018

    @Northern_Water: NISP Final EIS released

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

    Here’s the release from Northern Water:

    Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers have released a Final Environmental Impact Statement that explores the alternatives for supplying a reliable water supply to 15 municipalities and water providers in northeastern Colorado.

    The document outlines the impacts of Northern Water’s preferred alternative, the Northern Integrated Supply Project, as well as three other potential reservoir projects. It also looks at the effects to the environment if no action alternative is approved.

    Northern Water officials began the formal permitting process to build NISP on behalf of the 15 participants in 2004, which resulted in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in 2008. A Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released in 2015.

    “This is another step in the process and a very thorough one at that,” said Northern Water General Manager Brad Wind. “We’re encouraged that it shows that no new significant issues have popped up and that the impacts can and will be mitigated.”

    The Northern Integrated Supply Project includes the construction of Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins and Galeton Reservoir northeast of Greeley. Five pump stations and 85 miles of pipeline would convey water to communities participating in the project as well as some farmers in the Cache la Poudre River basin.

    The operation of the project would include minimum guaranteed stream flows through downtown Fort Collins, bypass of peak flows in most years, improvements to stream channel and riparian areas along the Poudre River and establishment of a recreation complex at Glade Reservoir.

    “The NISP participants have really come a long way and stepped up to put together one of the most-robust mitigation and enhancement plans ever,” said NISP Participants Committee Chairman Chris Smith. Smith, the general manager of the Left Hand Water District added, “We are committed to the $60 million plan to protect and enhance the environment.”

    In the 14 years since the permitting began, Northern Colorado has continued to grow at a record pace with seven of the top-growing cities within the NISP Participants Committee. Smith said, “we are the bullseye for growth in Colorado with the fastest-growing cities in the state all being NISP participants.”

    In addition to NISP, which is the preferred alternative, federal officials looked at alternatives that included a different combination of reservoirs and conveyance methods. Out of 215 elements studied such as reservoir expansion, new reservoirs and groundwater storage, the Corps identified four that would meet the project purpose and need. The Corps also considered the impact of removing irrigation water from nearly 100 square miles of land in Northern Colorado, which, the FEIS illustrates, would occur if NISP is not approved.

    NISP participants include the communities of Erie, Windsor, Fort Morgan, Evans, Fort Lupton, Eaton, Severance, Lafayette, Firestone, Frederick and Dacono. Also, the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, Left Hand Water District, Central Weld County Water District and Morgan County Quality Water District are participants.

    The public has 45 days to provide comments to the Corps on the FEIS. A Record of Decision based on the document and public input will be issued by the Corps and is expected in 2019.

    To view the document, go to: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory- Program/Colorado/EIS-NISP/
    Hard copies may be found at locations listed at http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1580028/final-environmental-impact-statement-for-the-northern-integrated-supply-project/

    Comments about the FEIS may be sent via email to the Corps, NISP.EIS@usace.army.mil. For more information, visit http://www.gladereservoir.org.

    From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

    The Army Corps of Engineers’ report, about 1,400 pages in all, explores all facets of the project, which leverages water rights purchased by Northern Water in the 1980s along with proposed reservoirs to store and release those rights as necessary.

    Getting to this point has taken 14 years, and puts in site potential approval of the project in 2019.

    “There’s a lot of smiles around here today,” said Brian Werner, Northern Water spokesman. “This has been a long process.”

    Werner said the participants can now see light at the end of the tunnel. He could have said water, as the NISP plan would provide 40,000 acre feet of water per year to the partners. That’s roughly enough water for 80,000 families.

    The proposal calls for two reservoirs: one called Glade Reservoir north of Fort Collins, and the other, Galeton Reservoir, north of Eaton.

    The Glade Reservoir would be fed by the Poudre River, and the Galeton Reservoir would be fed via a pipeline from the South Platte River.

    The Corps also looked at three potential alternatives, and analyzed impacts ranging from fish and wildlife to vegetation and water quality.

    Most of the impacts analyzed in the report were considered minor or subtle, but there were areas of concern highlighted:

    » Water quality in the proposed Galeton Reservoir, north of Eaton.

    » Destruction of wildlife habitat with the Glade and Galeton reservoirs.

    » Reduced flows along the Poudre River, particularly during peak flow months.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now opened a public comment period, which will stay open until Sept. 4.

    Werner said he saw no surprises in the report, and he said Northern Water is prepared to mitigate any impacts.

    Werner said there will be a guaranteed minimum flow through Fort Collins throughout the year, something he said hasn’t been done.

    “It’s taken 15 years, and those participants’ need hasn’t lessened. They still need the water, and that need has increased,” Werner said.

    Windsor stands to get about 3,300 acre-feet of water, which would amount to double what the town’s currently uses, 3,400 acre-feet per year. When reached for comment Friday, Town Manager Shane Hale said officials there are pleased to have reached this step.

    “Windsor’s one of the fastest growing communities in the state,” Hale said. “This is the cost of growth.”

    Evans will get 1,600 acre-feet of water from the project, and City Manager Jim Becklenberg called the environmental impact statement an important milestone.

    “Evans looks forward to continued community discussion of the project’s value to the community and how it fits into our long-term water and development planning,” Becklenberg said in a prepared statement.

    The Central Weld County Water District, which supplies much of the rural residential tap water in Weld County, would gain 3,100 acre-feet from the project, adding to it’s 5,800 acre-foot annual allotment today.

    “This would carry us for many years,” said Jim Park, president of the district’s board.

    Greeley is not part of the project, and officials here have expressed concerns throughout the process. The official line, City Manager Roy Otto said, is that the city recognizes the need for all reservoirs in northern Colorado.

    “Our only concerns are impacts to our water supplies, and how to mitigate (those impacts),” Otto said.

    First and foremost, Otto said, he wanted to congratulate Northern Water.

    “I think it’s very safe to say our water board is on the record supporting every single water storage project,” Otto said.

    The plan goes beyond storage, or at least it’s storage-plus. The proposed Glade Reservoir would offer recreation opportunities, including boating and fishing, and would feature a visitor’s center.

    There’s no such luck for Weld County residents, as the Galeton Reservoir would be off limits to those kind of recreation opportunities, apart from, perhaps, wildlife viewing, Werner said.

    Even then, the Galeton Reservoir is expected to remove 215 acres of prairie dog colonies, 1,753 acres of swift fox habitat, 777 acres of grasslands and 964 acres of native shrublands, according to the report.

    Werner, for his part, stands by Northern Water’s work to mitigate the negative impacts of the NISP.

    “They’re always saying it’s not enough mitigation,” Werner said. “I would argue this is the most robust mitigation plan of any Colorado water project — it’s 136 pages. There will be impacts whether you’re building a highway, a school or a reservoir. We certainly believe we’ll mitigate those impacts.”

    Fort Collins folks lower per capita water consumption

    US Drought Monitor June 25, 2002.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):

    As anyone who has watched as more and more cars stack up during the morning commute can attest, the population here keeps booming.

    But if that’s the case, why is the city’s water use continuously going down?

    Seriously. In 2000, the city of Fort Collins treated 31,594 acre-feet of water.

    In 2017, the city treated three-fourths of that, or 23,512 acre-feet — despite an additional 15,400 people tapping into the city’s water. (Fort Collins Water serves the majority of businesses and residences in the city limits, but not all.)

    […]

    People are paying attention and they’re asking about (water),” Fort Collins Water Conservation manager Liesel Hans said. “Are we going to be on restrictions this year? Is there enough water to go around? So I think people are more aware of it, for sure.”

    Hans traces the awareness back to the multi-year drought that gripped Colorado and the West starting in 2001. People, presumably in an effort to save their lawns and otherwise stave of the heat, were using on average 200-plus gallons of water per day. It was also when water conservation messages starting sprouting up in Fort Collins and statewide.

    Then, average gallon-per-capita use in Fort Collins started falling. In 2017, that measurement hit 141 gallons per capita per day, a 33 percent drop. Residential use dropped at an even greater clip: It went from 126 gallons of water per person per day to 73 — a 43 percent decline.

    That put overall water use within the city’s goal of 2020 water use. That is a moving target, however. The city has since shifted to a 2030 goal of 130 gallons per capita per day and plans to make another goal change come 2022.

    Greeley: Bellvue Water Treatment Plant undergoes first major upgrade since 1947

    The water treatment process

    From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

    These days, the historic plant is in the process of changing. Greeley is building a new water treatment plant on the same property to replace water filtration systems, marking the first major change to the facility since 1947. The $25 million project will centralize water filtration processes that currently are spread out between two buildings, and with further expansion one day could give the plant the capability to treat 40 million gallons of water per day. The initial phase of the project is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

    During the city’s annual summer water and sewer tour, a group of Greeley residents saw the past and into the future, learning about the extensive filtration, miles of pipeline that bring water from Bellvue to Greeley and the construction that will upgrade the system.

    “We’re kind of turning the page on what the treatment plant will look like between yesterday and into the future,” said Burt Knight, Greeley’s water and sewer director.

    CENTURY-OLD SYSTEM

    For Mohr, the Bellvue plant is fascinating. Between breaking down the technical process associated with treating water at the plant and showing residents decades-old filters during the tour, he stopped a few times to express his awe for the plant, first envisioned by Greeley leaders at the turn of the century, back when the city had a population of 5,000.

    In 1905, 97 percent of Greeley’s voters approved a ballot measure to build the plant at the mountain location — just west of Fort Collins — to bring the city water produced by Rocky Mountain snowmelt.

    “The one thing I’m overly impressed with is we’ve got over 30 miles of pipeline from this facility to Greeley, and we don’t use pumps to move water from there to there,” Mohr said.

    The 36-mile pipeline envisioned by Greeley water pioneer W.D. Farr brings water to the city’s storage facilities by gravity as it flows down from the mountains. Mohr said choosing Bellvue for the plant was a strategic part of the process.

    “W.D. Farr over 100 years ago worked together with a number of other very smart people and said, ‘If we’re going to serve water to the residents of Greeley, this is a great place to do it,’ ” he said. “And it is, for a number of reasons.”

    For one, Mohr said, Bellvue is still responsible for filtering most of Greeley’s water more than a century later. Though the Boyd Lake Water Treatment Plant in Loveland helps supplement the city’s production in the summer when residents use more water for lawns and plants, it runs only seasonally, leaving most of the work to Bellvue.

    And in 2017, water produced at the plant won the American Water Works Association’s award for best tasting water in the nation, beating 33 other regional winners. It also won the competition’s People’s Choice Award, making Greeley the first city to win both awards in the contest’s 13-year history.

    But even with the recognition and the plant’s long life, Mohr said Bellvue needs to be upgraded.

    Greeley City Manager Roy Otto said for the city, the job is fairly commonplace. It’s important for the water and sewer department to constantly expand and upgrade its facilities, he said, and the Bellvue project is just one of several projects the city is working on to accomplish that goal.

    At Bellvue, upgrades will replace equipment that has been in place for decades.

    With water filters that have been in operation since the late 1940s and early ’50s, Mohr said, Bellvue’s current buildings are going to be obsolete soon.

    “It’s been working very, very hard for a very long time,” he said, “and it’s kind of time for us to think about the future.”

    NEXT PHASE

    After the city won the American Water Works Association awards, Knight, the water and sewer director, said he called Bellvue’s Water Treatment Manager Andrew Kabot, jokingly, to suggest the city cancel the project because Greeley’s water was right where it needed to be.

    “He assured me that was a bad idea,” Knight said during the tour.

    The project, which broke ground in October, started after the water and sewer department found it would cost more to rehabilitate Bellvue’s vintage filters, placed there in 1948 and 1953, than it would to start from scratch to build a modern system. Mohr said the new technology will automate the filtration processes. City officials also plan to improve piping at the plant so water can enter the system more quickly.

    At the current plant, the city brings water in through the system between two different buildings to complete the water treatment process.

    Knight said when the new plant is completed those processes will be under the same roof. The city will maintain the plant’s old buildings, he said, and use them as gathering places for tour groups or meetings.

    Before construction started, Knight said, the city decided to award the project to Fort Collins-based Hydro Construction as part of a construction manager risk contract, a form of a design-build contract. That means city officials will make decisions with the company as construction progresses.

    “Our choice, predominantly, is investment in water treatment,” Knight said. “So we’ll have an attractive building, but it’s really about the equipment inside the building.”

    Halligan Reservoir expansion update

    Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

    From Kevin Duggan writing on the opinion pages of The Fort Collins Coloradoan:

    The cost of a water-storage project Fort Collins has been pursuing for more than a decade continues to float higher and higher.

    But even at its current estimated cost of $74.1 million — $27.3 million more than estimated just a few years ago — city officials say expanding Halligan Reservoir along the North Fork of the Poudre River remains the city’s best and most affordable option for securing future water supplies that would be needed in the event of drought.

    That’s a big-ticket item by any measure. The cost would be covered by reserves in a fund that gets money from water rates paid by Fort Collins Utilities customers and fees charged to developers for tapping into the city’s water system.

    Those development fees could go up 23 percent in coming years to help pay for Halligan, according to a memo to City Council…

    Part of the reason for the project’s rising cost estimates is the uncertainty that comes with going through the National Environmental Policy Act process. The current projected cost includes $16.3 million in contingency funds to cover potential surprises in federal and state requirements for permitting and mitigation.

    Fort Collins has been working on and paying for an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the proposed expansion of Halligan for 12 years. The latest estimate for when a draft EIS for the project will be released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is April 2019, said Adam Jokerst, the city’s project manager.

    Construction costs have gone up over the years and continue to rise. If the project is permitted, construction on the expansion, estimated to cost $31.3 million, could begin in 2023 and be completed in two years.

    It would be quite an effort. The city has proposed enlarging Halligan’s capacity from 6,400 acre-feet to about 14,525 acre-feet by raising its concrete dam 25 feet…

    The Halligan project has faced a lot of issues over the years. For a time, the EIS process included the city of Greeley’s proposal to expand its Milton Seaman Reservoir, which also is on the North Fork of the Poudre. Greeley wanted to expand its 5,000-acre-foot reservoir to 53,000 acre-feet.

    The Halligan-Seaman project included the cities in partnership with North Poudre as well as the Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts, also known as the Tri-Districts.

    The Tri-Districts backed out of the project in 2009, citing mounting costs and a lack of progress on environmental studies. North Poudre withdrew in 2014 over the same concerns.

    Those withdrawals required scaling back the project, changing its environmental impacts and adding time to the review process, Jokerst said. There’s also been a lot of turnover at the Corps over the years with personnel overseeing the EIS.

    The Seaman project was separated from Halligan in 2015 because of changing scopes for the projects and differing time frames. Greeley is now proposing to expand Seaman to 88,000 acre-feet to meet its water supply needs to 2065, according to the Corps’ website.

    Fort Collins officials maintain the Halligan project still makes sense for the city even with its escalating costs. It makes use of an existing reservoir and could potentially improve flows on the North Fork through mitigation. The city has the water rights it needs to fill the reservoir, Jokerst said.

    And Halligan is still less expensive than other water supply sources, according to the city. The going rates for an acre-foot of firm yield from the Colorado-Big Thompson project is $60,000. Under current estimates, water from the Halligan project would cost $8,800 per acre-foot.

    So far, Fort Collins Utilities has spent $12.6 million on the project. The city has appropriated $37.4 million for it and would have to come up with another $36.7 million under current projections.