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

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    ‘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.