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.