@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/

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.

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.

Ongoing #SouthPlatte Basin water storage projects

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate:

There already are six projects being pursued in the South Platte Basin to extend the water supply. These are not included in the recent South Platte Storage Survey, but have been considered and under way for some time:

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

• The NISP/Glade project — The Northern Integrated Supply Project is a proposed water storage and distribution project that will supply 15 Northern Front Range water partners with 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supplies.

Map from Northern Water via the Fort Collins Coloradan.

• Chimney Hollow Reservoir — A 360-foot high dam that will hold 90,000 acre feet to help supply the thirsty Thompson Valley urban area. The water will come from the Windy Gap Project, a diversion dam and pumping station completed in 1985 to provide extra irrigation and municipal water out of the Colorado River. The water originally was stored in Grand Lake, but when that is full, the water cannot be stored. Chimney Hollow, also known as the Windy Gap Firming Project, solves that problem.

Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

• Halligan reservoir enlargements — Halligan Reservoir near Fort Collins is about 100 years old. Its capacity is about 6,400 acre feet of water and the City of Fort Collins wants to add 8,125 acre feet to the reservoir by raising its dam about 25 feet.

• Milton Seaman Reservoir enlargement — Greeley originally had wanted to expand Seaman Reservoir in conjunction with Halligan, but because of diverging goals Greeley withdrew from the joint project. The expansion of Seamon now is targeted for design in 2028 and construction by 2030.

Gross Dam enlargement concept graphic via Denver Water

• Gross Reservoir enlargement — Gross Reservoir is one of 11 reservoirs supplying water to the City of Denver and surrounding urban areas. It is on the city’s Moffat System, which diverts water from the Western Slope to the metro area. Denver Water has proposed raising the dam height by 131 feet, which will allow the capacity of the reservoir to increase by 77,000 acre feet.

Proposed reallocation pool — Graphic/USACE

• Chatfield Reallocation Plan — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that Chatfield Reservoir, built primarily for flood control after the 1965 South Platte River flood, can accommodate an additional 20,600 acre feet of water storage for water supply without compromising its flood control function. This additional storage space will be used by municipal and agricultural water providers to help meet the diverse needs of the state. No actual construction is required, but the legal, environmental, and engineering concerns of allowing the reservoir to hold more water all have to be satisfied.

Milton-Seaman Reservoir expansion update

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Expanding the 5,000-acre-foot capacity reservoir has been on Greeley officials’ to-do list for more than a decade. But the type of work the city is planning takes a lot of time, mainly because it involves the federal government.

If everything goes without a hitch, Greeley officials have circled 2030 as the year they’ll increase Seaman to 10 times its current capacity…

Here’s why:

» Greeley has never expanded any of its six reservoirs, and most have been around for nearly a century.

» Increasing Seaman to 53,000 acre-feet of water from 5,000 acre-feet will put Greeley in position to satisfy the city’s water needs for decades. (An acre foot of water is enough water for two families to use for a year). The city uses between 25,000-30,000 acre-feet of water per year: That’s expected to reach 40,000 acre-feet by 2030.

Harold Evans, chairman of the water and sewer board in Greeley, likens the Seaman’s expansion to the kind of planning that has kept water flowing from the city’s Bellvue Treatment Plant area since 1907…

Right now, Greeley is working with a consultant and in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop an environmental impact statement.

Greeley is still about two years away from having a draft of that statement.

In the meantime, Greeley officials are working to secure more water rights. The city doesn’t have enough rights to fill the expanded Seaman Reservoir. They’re 40 percent there, and as Reckentine said, it’s an everyday process. Every year, in fact, Greeley commits millions toward purchasing water rights.

Expanding the reservoir could cost $95 million more just in construction costs, according to an estimate provided in a Colorado Water Conservation Board document.

Water rights come from a variety of places, including retiring farms.

Today, Greeley typically uses its reservoirs as drought protection.

Basically, Greeley has water rights from the Colorado, Poudre, Laramie and Big Thompson rivers. But whether Greeley is able to get all of the water it’s owed depends on the rivers’ flow levels.

In drier years, Greeley would have to do without some of that water. That’s where reservoirs come in. Evans said the first reservoirs were used to finish Greeley area crops when river flows weren’t strong enough to do so in late fall.

Snowmelt and water diverted into reservoirs could be tapped for that purpose. Evans said it’s like putting money in the bank. Pound-for-pound, water’s worth more than money, though.

If and when the Seaman Reservoir expansion is complete, Greeley will likely use some of the water from that reservoir every year.

For Evans, that’s a perfect example, among many, of an investment in the future.

Evans mentions the new pipeline from the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant being installed now, with a lifespan of 75-100 years. The Seaman Reservoir has been around since the 1940s.

ABOUT MILTON SEAMAN RESERVOIR

» Built 1941

» Storage: 5,008 acre-feet

» Elevation: 5,478 feet

» Dam height: 115 feet

» Proposed enlargement date: 2029

» Proposed storage: 53,000 acre-feet

SET FOR LIFE?

The Seaman Reservoir expansion will put Greeley in a good position, but Deputy Director of Greeley Water Eric Reckentine hesitates to call it the final answer.

Greeley has a four-point plan when it comes to water:

» Maintain what you have — Greeley has reinforced water lines with concrete and fiberglass to reduce leaks.

» Secure supply to stay ahead of demand — The Windy Gap Project, which ensured water during lean times, is an example of this.

» Build storage for the lean times — The Milton Seaman Reservoir expansion project is the best example of this.

» Conserve the water you have — Greeley has a state-approved water conservation plan, and the new water budgets are another example of conservation.

THE OTHER RESERVOIRS

Here’s a quick look at Greeley’s other five reservoirs:

» Barnes Meadow Reservoir — Built in 1922 and located across Colo. 14 from Chambers Lake in the Roosevelt National Park, Barnes Meadow Reservoir holds 2,349 acre-feet of water.

» Peterson Lake Reservoir — Built in 1922, and located southwest of Chambers Lake and adjacent to Colo. 156, Peterson Lake Reservoir holds 1,183 acre-feet of water.

» Comanche Reservoir — Built in 1924, and located along Beaver Creek and west of the Colorado State University Mountain campus, the Comanche Reservoir holds 2,628 acre-feet of water.

» Hourglass Reservoir — Built in 1898, and also located along Beaver Creek and west of the Colorado State University Mountain campus, the Hourglass Reservoir holds 1,693 acre-feet of water.

» Twin Lakes Reservoir — Built in 1924, and located southwest of Pingree Park off Colo. 14, Twin Lakes Reservoir holds 278 acre-feet of water.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Doug Billingsley doesn’t know what he’s going to do to replicate the peace and quiet of his work when he retires and re-enters the hubbub of normal life. Greeley pays Billingsley to live at Milton Seaman Reservoir, about 15-20 minutes from the mouth of the Poudre Canyon. Billingsley lives in a city-provided house, and has lived there for the past eight years with his wife, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and her caretaker.

Billingsley monitors the Seaman Reservoir. The reservoir is Greeley’s largest, and its water levels can rise and fall quickly. He must ensure the banks and dams are sound and functioning properly, and he’s charged with releasing water down the Poudre Canyon when necessary. Call him the water shepherd.

He’s used to the solitude, if not the quiet.

“I drove over the road truck for 18 years, and was by myself for up to 30 days at a time — I lived in a truck,” Billingsley said. “This is no biggie; this is heaven.”

The city pays him a salary as well as his living expenses. But there’s a catch: He’s on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The floods of 2013 are a prime example. And Billingsley spent the better part of a week stuck at home after a bridge went out, trapping folks up the canyon. Of course, he had to monitor Seaman’s water levels during the flood, as well.

Billingsley’s wife loves having him at home every night, and he loves being there.

Apart from animals there’s nothing to bother a Seaman Reservoir caretaker. They’ve seen elk, mountain lions, bears, but none of them hurt anybody, he says.

Halligan Reservoir DEIS likely delayed until 2017

Halligan Reservoir
Halligan Reservoir

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

City officials say additional water-quality studies required by federal and state agencies are likely to delay release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the proposed Halligan Reservoir expansion until 2017. The document was expected to be released this year.

The studies are expected to cost about $475,000 on top of the $8.2 million already spent as part of the environmental review process, said Adam Jokerst, water resources engineer with Fort Collins Utilities.

Halligan Reservoir is on the North Fork of the Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins. The expansion project would more than double the capacity of the reservoir.

The project is entering the 10th year of an EIS process that’s being overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The highly detailed water-quality studies will include monitoring water temperatures along the North Fork and main stem of the Poudre from below Halligan past Fort Collins, Jokerst said.

“It’s quite an effort,” he said.

Aquatic life is sensitive to water temperature, he said. Some types of fish cannot thrive if temperatures are too warm or too cold.

Methodology used in the studies will be consistent with that used to analyze the impact of other water storage projects proposed along the river, including the controversial Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, which would build Glade Reservoir north of Fort Collins.

The need for the more research was raised by various entities and the public through comments directed to the Corps regarding the draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for NISP, Jokerst said.

The Halligan EIS process is being directed by the Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state health department, Jokerst said.

“They desire, as do we, to have consistent methods between NISP and the Halligan project,” he said. “As the NISP methods were established, then we had to follow suit.”

Halligan Reservoir is about 100 years old. Its capacity is about 6,400 acre feet of water. The city has proposed enlarging by 8,125 acre feet by raising its dam about 25 feet…

Fort Collins has requested the expansion as a way to shore up its water supply and protect against drought…

The Halligan project “makes a lot of sense” for the city, Jokerst said. It makes use of an existing reservoir and could potentially improve flows along the North Fork of the Poudre.

“We still feel it’s a smart project,” he said. “The cost per acre-foot of water development … is very competitive.”

Planning for Fort Collins’ future water needs — Kevin Gertig

Halligan Reservoir
Halligan Reservoir

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Gertig):

Fort Collins is located in a semi-arid region where the amount of water available from month to month and year to year varies, especially during dry years and drought. Fort Collins Utilities has a responsibility to provide an adequate supply of water to existing and future customers; we made long-term water supply an essential element of our planning efforts decades ago.

For more than a century, Utilities has used an integrated approach to manage our water supply, including:

•Securing senior rights on the Poudre River,

•Purchasing and improving an existing storage facility on the upper Poudre (Joe Wright Reservoir),

•Acquiring nearly 19,000 units of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, and

•Establishing water conservation programs beginning in the late 1970s.

Recent updates to the Water Supply and Demand Management Policy, which provides direction to meet our community’s future water demands, identified the need for additional long-term water storage. Though the community actively conserves water year-round, storage is a valuable tool in water resources planning. Adequate storage helps meet projected demands and provides reserves for unexpected events, including pipeline failure, fires in the watershed or issues with Horsetooth Reservoir.

This policy also references Utilities’ Water Conservation Plan, which lays out a significant expansion of the water conservation program and targets residential and commercial customers, as well as indoor and outdoor water use.

Water conservation helps ensure the wise use of available water, especially during dry, hot summer months when little moisture is available. Although conservation helps stretch our water supply, Utilities’ current limited storage capacity means conserved water cannot be stored for future use.

If the Halligan Water Supply Project is permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and approved by City Council, it will help meet Fort Collins’ future water needs. Careful planning and analysis determined that enlarging Halligan Reservoir is one of the most cost-effective solutions that minimizes environmental impacts compared to constructing a new one. The project also will provide storage of mostly existing water rights and be tailored in size and operations for our specific needs.

Fort Collins Utilities is proud of its strong conservation ethic, which provides a solid foundation for the management of our current and future water use in the Poudre River Basin. Through continued conservation efforts, smart water management and additional storage capacity, such as the Halligan Water Supply Project, Utilities will be prepared to meet the future water needs of our community.

For more information, visit http://fcgov.com/halligan.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Halligan and Seaman reservoirs expansion update

Halligan Reservoir
Halligan Reservoir

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Dougan):

An environmental review of the proposed expansion of a Fort Collins reservoir is moving forward with its separation from a Greeley water project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to consider the city’s proposal to more than double the storage capacity of Halligan Reservoir as a separate project rather than in combination with Greeley’s proposal to enlarge its Seaman Reservoir.

Both reservoirs are on the North Fork of the Poudre River. The projects have been combined under the Corps’ review process since 2006, when the cities formally proposed enlarging the reservoirs to meet future water demand.

The projects were combined because their operations were expected to be coordinated in order to impact on the river as little as possible, said Donnie Dustin, water resources manager with Fort Collins Utilities.

As part of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, process required by federal regulations, alternatives to the proposed expansions must be considered by the Corps.

Fort Collins has its alternatives lined up and ready while Greeley needs more time to develop its alternatives, Dustin said.

“The benefit of separation is Fort Collins gets to move forward without waiting for Greeley,” he said. “And Greeley gets to take their time to reassess alternatives with the Corps for their project. Both projects benefit.”

A draft EIS for the Halligan is expected to be released in spring 2016, Dustin said.

Halligan Reservoir is about 100 years old. Its capacity is about 6,400 acre feet of water…

The city’s current request is to add 8,125 acre feet to the reservoir by raising its dam about 25 feet, Dustin said.

Fort Collins has requested the expansion to shore up its water supply to protect against drought.

The city needs the increased storage capacity “now,” Dustin said. Greeley does not plan to expand Seaman Reservoir for several years.

“Just given where we are right now, it just didn’t make sense to stay together,” he said.

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

The water providers proposed expanding Halligan by 40,000 acre feet. The Tri-Districts withdrew from the project in 2009 citing mounting costs and a lack or progress on the environmental studies.

North Poudre withdrew in 2014 for the over the same concerns.

So far, costs related to the permitting process have reached $7.7 million, with Fort Collins paying about $4.5 million, officials said.

More Cache la Poudre River coverage here.

NISP EIS delayed until spring


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ryan Maye Handy):

…the modern struggle over Glade Reservoir — which would divert Poudre water into a lake larger than Horsetooth Reservoir — might not inspire a musket-bearing militia, it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and has already sparked two complex environmental studies and angered Poudre River advocates.

Glade Reservoir may be just a plan on paper, but some say it is key to keeping Northern Colorado from drying up in the next few decades. Others contend that the highly controversial reservoir will damage the Poudre, not to mention swallow up acres of land, displace a federal highway and transfigure northern Larimer County’s landscape.

But release of a long-awaited environmental study that could pave the way for construction of two new Northern Colorado reservoirs — including Glade — has been postponed until next spring. The delay is the latest stall in an already yearslong battle over expanding Colorado’s water storage.

“We need this project and we need it soon,” said Carl Brouwer, who has been spear-heading the reservoir project, known as the Northern Integrated Supply Project, for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “We need this project today.”..

Now, the study won’t be released until possibly spring 2015, said Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner. That means the plan that would add millions of gallons to Northern Colorado’s reservoirs to stave off inevitable water loss remains years from realization. Meanwhile, Front Range cities are forced to lease water rights from agriculture in order to make up for water shortages, which continue to grow each year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been studying the environmental impacts of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, for more than a decade and, in 2008, began a second study into the project after public outcry demanded it. The supplemental study has now taken more time to complete than the first draft released in 2008.

But the future of NISP is not entirely dependent on the results of that study — the project is tied to the fates of several other proposed reservoirs in Northern Colorado, all of which are snarled in years of environmental study.

The Army Corps would not confirm that it had officially changed the deadline for the next environmental impact statement but said it is “continuing to work through a deliberative process on the NISP schedule,” said spokeswoman Maggie Oldham.

But those in the Colorado water community believe the study won’t be released in December or January, as the Corps initially planned. The delay is likely due to the overlap of multiple projects along the Poudre River and their different deadlines…

Regardless, the way forward for NISP will not be simple, as the project’s success depends on the approval of two other potential reservoirs, Halligan and Seaman, both still years away from realization, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute.

Northern Water has also yet to acquire all the land necessary to build Glade Reservoir, which would also require the relocation of 7 miles of U.S. Highway 287 north of Fort Collins. But all other elements needed to pull NISP together still await approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Waskom thinks delays on the NISP study can be explained by the complex overlapping of the two water storage projects and a series of staggered deadlines for each.

“You can see why they are having trouble,” he said Tuesday. But while the Corps grapples with balancing decisions on NISP and another reservoir project, the gap between Colorado’s water availability and water use continues to grow, said Waskom.

Decades of challenges

While Brouwer believes he can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for Glade, there are myriad obstacles that stand between the project and completion. In addition to years of environmental studies and public comment, Wockner has vowed to prevent the construction of Glade at any cost by invoking the public right to challenge Army Corps decisions in court.

All these things have kept Glade and NISP wrapped up in years of controversy, to the point that proponents of the project have joked they will never see it completed in their lifetime.

But Colorado might not have a lifetime to wait for more water, according to draft versions of the Colorado Water Plan completed this summer.

The state is on track to be short 500,000 acre-feet of water by 2050 — enough to cover half a million football fields in one foot of water. The Fort Collins-Loveland Water Conservation District has already passed its water shortage date: By 2005, the district was short 1,100 acre-feet of water, an amount that could grow to 7,500 acre-feet by 2050, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The NISP project is projected to bring an extra 40,000 acre feet of water to Northern Colorado, to satisfy shortages in cities from Fort Collins to Fort Morgan.

The Northern Integrated Supply Project, of which Glade is a part, is just one of a few solutions offered by the in drafts of the state water plan for the South Platte River Basin, the most populous in the state. While Northern Water can’t begin work until the Army Corps finishes the supplemental study the project remains in limbo.

“We have our good days and our bad days, in terms of ‘is this ever going to end,’ ” said Werner.

The supplemental environmental study will not be an end to the NISP process, but instead just another step in many years’ worth of approvals and studies, not to mention potential court challenges from groups such as Wockner’s. Thanks to a 1980s purchase, Northern Water owns roughly 75 percent of the land needed to build Glade, but the district has yet to acquire land from Colorado State University, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, said Werner.

The cost of that land acquisition is unknown, Werner said. But the entire project has been given an estimated price tag of $490 million.

Glade Reservoir would begin just north of Ted’s Place, a Country Store gas station at the junction of U.S. Highway 14 and Highway 287. The reservoir, larger than Horsetooth, would fill 7 miles of highway with Poudre River water, and swallow land north of Ted’s Place and south of Owl Canyon. Only a handful of private property owners will be displaced Werner thinks, but the new reservoir would likely transform a few adjacent properties into lakeside real estate…

Meanwhile, the inevitability of greater water shortages looms. An executive order from Gov. John Hickenlooper required that the state start preparing a state water plan to reconcile water conflicts between the Western Slope and the Front Range, as well as plan for the next several decades. But that plan, the first draft of which is due to the governor by Dec. 10, will also be subject to a year of public comment.

In Fort Collins, which has been experiencing water shortages for almost 10 years, the gap between water needs and availability will grow steadily every year unless something is done.

“The gap only grows if the projects don’t get built,” said Waskom.

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

Plans for two new reservoirs in northern Colorado are facing more delays as a key federal review is not expected until next spring. The delay is the most recent turn in a long battle over expanding Colorado water resources.

The release of a long-awaited environmental study that could pave the way for construction of the two new reservoirs could be postponed until next spring, according to advocates and opponents.

The plan by the Northern Colorado Conservancy District to build Glade and Galeton reservoirs in northern Colorado was supposed to take a step forward this winter with the release of a second environmental impact statement. The statement has been postponed twice.

The reservoirs are part of North Colorado Water’s Northern Integrated Supply Project to create 40,000 acre-feet of new supplies.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been studying the environmental impacts of the NISP for more than a decade.

In addition to the two reservoirs, the project calls for two pump plants, pipelines and improvements to an existing canal, according to a Northern Water summary.

Northern Water distributes water to portions of eight counties in northern Colorado and a population of 860,000 people.

In 2008, the corps began the second study into the project after public outcry demanded it. The supplemental study has now taken more time to complete than the first draft, released in 2008.

The Corps of Engineers said it is reviewing the schedule for the new report, but no official date has been set.

The study will not end the process, but instead is just another step in the approvals, studies and potential court challenges.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here.

North Poudre pulls out of the Halligan Reservoir expansion project, @fortcollinsgov last partner standing

Halligan Reservoir
Halligan Reservoir

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

City officials learned this week that North Poudre Irrigation Co., which owns the storage capacity of the existing reservoir, is backing out of the permitting process for the proposed enlargement of the reservoir northwest of the city. The move likely will increase Fort Collins’ costs for building the project, if it is approved by federal regulators, by about $1 million to an estimated $31 million, said Donnie Dustin, water resources manager with Fort Collin Utilities.

The irrigation company has seen little progress on the project during the nearly 10 years it has been going through an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre.

“For as much money as the company was putting into the project, the board came to the opinion that some of that money could be going to some of our infrastructure needs and upgrades,” Hummer said. “It was a business decision.”

The Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts, also known as the Tri-Districts, cited the same reasons when they withdrew from the project in 2009…

North Poudre has put $1.8 million toward the permitting process over the years, said Nels Nelson, president of the irrigation company’s board of directors.

Initially, the cost of the environmental review, which covers the proposed Halligan expansion and a proposal by Greeley to expand Seaman Reservoir, was expected to be $4 million. Costs related to the process have reached $7.3 million, with Fort Collins paying about $3.7 million, officials said…

Halligan Reservoir is on the North Fork of the Poudre River. The 6,500-acre foot reservoir is about 100 years old.

Originally, partners in the project were seeking to expand the reservoir to 40,000 acre feet. But the size of the project has been reduced to about half after the Tri-Districts withdrew and Fort Collins’ water use changed with increased conservation efforts.

With North Poudre out of the project, the expansion will be resized again to match the smaller requirement, said Kevin Gertig, city water resources and treatment operations manager.

How the change will affect the review process is not known, he said. A draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Halligan-Seaman project is expected to be released in fall 2015.

“Fort Collin Utilities is committed to moving ahead with the project unless, of course, the City Council directs us otherwise,” Gertig said.

The city needs to acquire 8,125 acre feet of water storage capacity to meet its needs and protect against drought, Gertig said.

More Halligan/Seaman expansion coverage here and here.

Fort Collins loses 1985 conditional right for Halligan Reservoir

Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins
Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Fort Collins Utilities is working to assess the value of the water right it lost that was meant to expand Halligan Reservoir.

The Coloradoan first reported last week that the city had lost the water right due to failure to file the required paperwork. Utilities officials said Wednesday they did not know the value of a water right canceled by a water court last month.

“It’s not a straight calculation,” Lisa Rosintoski said. “There are a lot of variables involved. Our efforts are to quantify that accurately.”

The city bought the junior water right in 1985 as part of a project to expand Halligan on the North Fork of the Poudre River from 6,400 acre-feet to 21,000 acre feet. The expansion is part of the Halligan-Seaman Water Management Project, which involves expanding Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir…

The utility’s conditional water right amounted to more than 33,000 acre feet…

City officials say, however, that the loss of the water right will not affect the Halligan expansion.

“We have the water rights to support filling the bucket,” Rosintoski said.

Utilities officials will report to City Council on the value of the water right and what impacts the lost water right might have, if any. A date for such a presentation hasn’t been set yet.

“We need to do some internal analysis on how you break out what we spent on the project to try to figure out what the price of the right would be,” said Donnie Dustin, water resource manager for Fort Collins Utilities.

More Cache la Poudre watershed coverage here.

@fortcollinsgov loses 1985 Halligan conditional water right, throws law firm under bus

Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins
Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

Vranesh and Raisch LLP, which represents the city on variety of water and environmental legal matters, failed to file a “diligence” application with the state Water Court to maintain the right by a Nov. 30 deadline, city officials said. As a result, the conditional storage right was canceled. The city has since reapplied for its claim on 33,462 acre feet of water on the North Fork of the Poudre River and streams that flow into it. The North Fork ties into the main stem of the Poudre River west of Fort Collins.

Managing the city’s water rights is the responsibility of the Water Resources Division of Fort Collins Utilities. The city has relied on internal documents, such as lists and spreadsheets, and communication with outside water lawyers to keep track of its conditional rights, stated Deputy City Attorney Carrie Mineart Daggett in an email to the Coloradoan.

In this case, utilities officials forwarded a notice from Water Court that an application was due on the Halligan conditional right to Vransh and Raisch on Sept. 5. But the firm did not follow through by sending in the required diligence application and $224 filing fee as expected.

Steps are being taken to ensure similar mistakes don’t happen, Daggett stated.

“The city is in the process of evaluating professional tracking systems and expects to acquire and use such a system in the near future in order to better assure timely completion of necessary actions related to city water rights,” Daggett wrote.

Eugene Riordan, a partner with Vranesh and Raisch, said the firm has communicated with Fort Collins officials about the matter…

The firm has borne the cost of reapplying for the conditional right, Daggett said.

The conditional storage right for an expanded reservoir was established in 1985 by the North Poudre Irrigation Co. and the Halligan Resources Co. The city acquired Halligan Resources’ interest in the right in 1987, and then North Poudre’s interest in 1993, city officials said…

Fort Collins has proposed expanding Halligan Reservoir, which is on the North Fork of the Poudre River, by 40,000 acre feet to shore up its water supplies for future growth and as protection against drought. The proposal is undergoing a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement and permitting process through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

Before problems with Halligan right popped up, the City Attorney’s Office received approval from the City Council to add a lawyer and a paralegal to its staff to handle water-related issues. The hiring process has begun. Salaries for the posts in 2014 are expected to total about $200,000, Daggett stated.

More water law coverage here and here.

Fort Collins loses 1985 Halligan Reservoir conditional storage right, no diligence filing

Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins
Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

The Coloradoan first reported last week that the city had lost the water right due to failure to file the required paperwork. Utilities officials said Wednesday they did not know the value of a water right canceled by a water court last month.

“It’s not a straight calculation,” Lisa Rosintoski said. “There are a lot of variables involved. Our efforts are to quantify that accurately.”

The city bought the junior water right in 1985 as part of a project to expand Halligan on the North Fork of the Poudre River from 6,400 acre-feet to 21,000 acre feet. The expansion is part of the Halligan-Seaman Water Management Project, which involves expanding Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir…

The utility’s conditional water right amounted to more than 33,000 acre feet…

City officials say, however, that the loss of the water right will not affect the Halligan expansion.

“We have the water rights to support filling the bucket,” Rosintoski said.

Utilities officials will report to City Council on the value of the water right and what impacts the lost water right might have, if any. A date for such a presentation hasn’t been set yet.

“We need to do some internal analysis on how you break out what we spent on the project to try to figure out what the price of the right would be,” said Donnie Dustin, water resource manager for Fort Collins Utilities.

More Cache la Poudre River Watershed coverage here and here.

@fortcollinsgov loses 1985 storage right for Halligan Reservoir, no diligence filing

Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins
Reservoirs NW of Fort Collins

Here’s the story from Kevin Duggan writing for the Fort Collins Coloradon. Here’s an excerpt:

Failure to file required paperwork has cost Fort Collins a water right on the Poudre River it has held for 28 years.

The right was intended to help fill Halligan Reservoir, which sits on the North Fork of the Poudre River, if a project to enlarge the reservoir is ever approved and built.

The city has been working on the enlargement proposal for many years. It secured a conditional right to receive up to 33,462 acre-feet of water in 1985 in hopes of storing part of it in Halligan to meet future water needs and protect the city’s water supply during times of drought.

More Halligan Seaman expansion coverage here and here.

Water Court cancels @fortcollinsgov 2007 Halligan Reservoir expansion conditional water right — no diligence filing

The Tweet above has been deleted from Twitter.

Update (January 10, 2014): The right is actually a 1985 right. I got that wrong and the source document is now unavailable. Also, the right is not directly associated with the Halligan expansion. Fort Collins has other rights that will fill the expanded vessel.

Here’s the story from Kevin Dugan writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Here’s an excerpt:

Failure to file required paperwork has cost Fort Collins a water right on the Poudre River it has held for 28 years.

The right was intended to help fill Halligan Reservoir, which sits on the North Fork of the Poudre River, if a project to enlarge the reservoir is ever approved and built.

The city has been working on the enlargement proposal for many years. It secured a conditional right to receive up to 33,462 acre-feet of water in 1985 in hopes of storing part of it in Halligan to meet future water needs and protect the city’s water supply during times of drought.

More Halligan/Seaman expansion coverage here.

Cache la Poudre River: Fort Collins Utilities tour recap

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From the North Forty News (Dan MacArthur):

Sponsored by Fort Collins Utilities Services, the July tour took participants through forests scorched by the High Park Fire to learn about the special challenges of treating water laden with ash and sediment flowing from charred slopes.

From there it moved to the top of Cameron Pass, where the Upper Cache la Poudre River watershed begins. A stop at the Gateway Natural Area on the return trip offered the opportunity to identify the microscopic bacteria in the river that could make one dance a more frantic jig were they not intercepted before flowing from our taps.

“Basically the reason (Fort Collins) was founded was water,” explained Clyde Greenwood. The utility and water supply supervisor serves as the utility’s resident historian.

Greenwood said Fort Collins was fortunate in that there were no mines in the Poudre Canyon watershed. A watershed is the territory that drains into a body of water.

“Fort Collins is a unique town with pristine water,” he said…

Fort Collins takes half of its water from the Colorado-Big Thompson project’s Horsetooth Reservoir. The other half comes from the Poudre. As a result of quality problems caused by the fire, water supply engineer Adam Jokerst said last year the city took no water from the Poudre for 100 days and depended solely on Horsetooth. This helped the city avoid water restrictions, but reduced the amount of reservoir water it could carry over to this year.

This year, last-minute heavy snows in the high country, the availability of more C-BT water, and the ability to once again take water from the Poudre allowed the city to avoid restrictions, he said.

The main problem plaguing the city’s water supply, he said, is the lack of flexibility with limited reservoir space. “We kind of live from year to year. If we get storage, our system is pretty robust.”

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Brian Werner: ‘Tell me when the next big drought comes, and you’re going to see people screaming about storage’

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

“Tell me when the next big drought comes, and you’re going to see people screaming about storage,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud. “Their willingness (to consider building new reservoirs) ebbs and flows based on when your last drought was.”

The uncertainty about the mountain snowpack, which fluctuates every year, is the primary argument for building new reservoirs in the West, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “The amazing thing is, it comes down to three or four big storms every year, whether they get them, or they bypass us,” he said…

One of five major proposed water storage projects in Larimer County that are in various stages of planning, [Northern Integrated Supply Project] calls for storing about 170,000 acre-feet of Poudre River water in the proposed Glade Reservoir north of Ted’s Place. A final decision could come sometime in 2013 or 2014…

The other four proposed projects include expansions to Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s Seaman Reservoir, the Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Carter Lake and the more uncertain Cactus Hill Reservoir proposed for a site on the Weld County line between Wellington and Nunn. If those projects are built, Waskom said, it’s hard to conceive of other such large projects being built in Northern Colorado regardless of the need because there are few other places to build them, at least in Larimer County. “Unless we can get Aaron Million’s project or a West Slope diversion built, we don’t have any more water left,” he said…

“All the easy projects have been built,” [Waskom] said. “Now we’re dealing with the hard projects. What comes after the projects, that’s the question, right? Where’s the water and reservoir sites, and where’s the political will to build projects?”

More infrastructure coverage here.

‘Future Horizons for Irrigated Agriculture’ tour recap: Greeley and other Weld County Communities are gearing up for population growth

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Here’s an in-depth look at efforts by northern Colorado cities to water the expected growth in population from The Greeley Tribune. Click through and read the whole article and check out the photo gallery. Here’s an excerpt:

Water storage for the future is viewed as so vital to the northern Front Range that the 15 participating municipalities and water districts of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, have spent about $10 million during the past seven years just to plan and analyze the endeavor. But there is no guarantee that NISP — a project that includes the construction of two new reservoirs in northern Colorado — will ever take shape. The federal government continues to analyze the Environmental Impact Statement…

Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department, said the city’s current supply will meet the needs of the community for only 25 more years, maybe less. In preparation, Greeley officials want to expand the Milton Seaman Reservoir, one of six high-mountain reservoirs from which the city draws its water. The reservoir holds about 5,000 acre-feet of water, and the proposed project calls for it to be expanded more than 10-fold to 53,000 acre-feet. The expansion would allow Greeley to pull 7,800 acre-feet of water off the reservoir annually, up from the 750 acre-feet it can pull now. Greeley uses about 45,000 acre-feet of water per year; demand is expected to grow to about 65,000 acre-feet by 2050. After initiating efforts in 2004, the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project is expected by 2013, and a final EIS is expected by 2015. Afterward, construction would take two years and filling the reservoir could take another five to 10 years…

Another water storage effort is The Windy Gap Firming Project. The 25-year-old Windy Gap Project near Granby diverts water from the Colorado River to the Front Range via the Colorado-Big Thompson Project on a space-available basis. According to Monson, during wet years when water is available for Windy Gap diversions, Lake Granby is often full with little or no space for the water. During dry years, the water right can be too junior to come into priority, so no water is available to pump. Greeley is allotted 4,400 acre-feet of water annually from the Windy Gap Project, but that supply hasn’t always been available. The Windy Gap Firming Project was proposed to ensure reliable future deliveries. Nine other municipalities, including Evans, participates in the project, along with the Central Weld County Water District and two other districts. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to publish the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Windy Gap Firming Project in November.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Greeley: Annual water and sewer facilities tour August 25

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From Greeley Water via The Greeley Tribune:

The city of Greeley is offering residents the chance to tour the city’s water and sewer facilities with the city’s Water and Sewer Board. The tour is set for 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25. Residents interested in attending are asked to reserve seating by Aug. 19 to (970) 350-9812. The purpose of this annual tour is to visit water and sewer facilities to learn about new and developing projects, according to a city news release.

More Greeley coverage here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) update: Supplemental environmental impact statement delayed until 2012

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From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):

Chandler Peter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the permitting processes for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and other proposed dams and reservoirs on the Poudre River (Halligan and Seaman) have been delayed yet again, now for the third time. The initial release for the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for NISP was supposed to be in June of 2010, and was initially delayed until the summer of 2011, and then delayed again until the latter part of 2011, and has now been delayed “into 2012” with “no refined ETA for the SDEIS” according to an email from Mr. Peter to Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper today. Additionally, the first draft of the EIS for the new Halligan (Fort Collins) and Seaman (Greeley) dams and reservoirs on the North Fork of the Poudre was slated for the summer of 2011, but then was delayed for a half year after the release of the NISP SDEIS, which will now put them into 2012 or 2013.

More NISP coverage here and here.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District annual spring water users meeting recap: Expansion of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs still ongoing

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Nancy Koch, a water acquisition specialist with Greeley, and Cliff Hoelscher, project manager for Fort Collins, gave updates at Thursday’s spring water users meeting of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District of where each are with expansion plans of Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir and Halligan Reservoir, which Fort Collins owns and operates in conjunction with the North Poudre Irrigation Co…

Greeley has owned Seaman Reservoir since 1943. It is just north of the Poudre River and holds 5,000 acre feet of water. Greeley’s plan is to expand that to 53,000 acre feet, which Koch said will help the city maintain use of existing water and help meet future demands. It is the city’s intent, she said, to have that expansion completed by 2030.

Halligan Reservoir will expand from its present 6,400 acre feet of storage to 22,500 acre feet. It was originally owned and operated by the North Poudre Irrigation Co., but that company and Fort Collins reached an agreement in 2003 that gave the city ownership and joint operational duties with the irrigation company. It is north of Seaman Reservoir. Its expansion is proposed to be completed by 2016.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

Poudre River watershed: ‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ final installment — public dialogue — April 11

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From the editorial staff of the Northern Colorado Business Report:

The final public dialogue portion of the program will be held in two sessions in Fort Collins: Monday, April 11, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Timberline Church on South Timberline Road, and Saturday, April 16, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at The Drake Center on West Drake Road. These sessions, facilitated by CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation, will be where we all can discuss alternatives for Northern Colorado’s water future.

To prepare for the public deliberation and to see recordings from previous sessions of The Poudre Runs Through It, go online to www.univercityconnections.org/.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ final session March 24

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

The March 24 session will feature Rena Brand, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers is charged with reviewing applications for water storage projects. The session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Larimer County Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., in Fort Collins. Sponsored by UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, the sessions are aimed at educating Northern Colorado residents about water issues and the future of the region’s water supply.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Mary Lou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the Water Institute, said the main message of the forum was to get people with diverse opinions about the region’s water future talking together. “The message was it’s important for us to look at the various values we bring to the table when we look at the future of the water supply in this area,” she said. “We said how can we work together? That really set the tone.”[…]

Smith said the purpose of the forum was not to push any particular agenda as to how the region’s future water needs should be met. One ongoing controversial water issue in the region is whether Glade Reservoir – a proposed new storage project- should be built just outside Poudre Canyon. Smith said Glade may or may not be part of the solution. “There’s a whole portfolio of solutions, including storage,” she said. “This isn’t about building Glade – it’s much broader than that. It’s about realizing there are trade-offs and helping the public better understand how water law works and forming educated opinions.”

Three more educational sessions are set to continue the discussion on Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24. All three will be held in the Larimer Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

More than 300 people turned out Thursday night at the Larimer County office building in Old Town to consider the best ways to keep the various future needs of Poudre River water from being fodder for a fight as part of a UniverCity Connections-sponsored series of public forums called “The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future.”

Author Laura Pritchett suggested people find “the radical center,” the place where those with sometimes drastically different ideas about the river can meet to civilly discuss their views and find solutions to the region’s water needs without fighting. The radical center, she said, should be that middle ground where people discover there isn’t just one solution for the water – either store it in Glade Reservoir or not at all. Those in the radical center, she said, seek to find a “portfolio” of solutions…

The fundamental threat to the Poudre River is urban growth, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “Much of the future water demand will be right here in the Front Range corridor,” he said. “We haven’t as a society decided if we want to control that growth yet.”[…]

Lynn Hall of Fort Collins said her biggest fear is losing the wildlife habitat along the Poudre River through the city. “To have a natural river with as much wildlife habitat as it has a few blocks from downtown is really a miracle,” she said. “We need to be really clear to figure out how we can make this accessible to humans, but not as an urban construction.”

The second part of the series of forums will be three education sessions scheduled for Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24 at the Larimer County office building, 200 W. Oak St. Those will be followed by two public dialogue sessions on April 11 and 16.

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain Collegian (Vashti Batjargal):

The public forum served as a place for residents to discuss the value the Poudre River holds and how water should be allocated to each of the region’s competing needs. “We have a fixed resource and it’s all about trade-off,” said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute. “In everything we choose, we also choose not.”[…]

George Reed, owner of 62 acres of land 10 miles north of Fort Collins, said he’d like a reservoir. “We could learn a lesson from the squirrels: You have to put some water away,” Reed said. “I’ve never seen a reservoir I didn’t like.”[…]

The forum was designed to get community input for decisions on water distribution and conservation for growth and agricultural needs. CSU associate professor of history Mark Fiege said the decisions the community will ultimately make concerning water distribution will have an effect on future generations. “It will impose a burden and responsibility that we cannot fully predict,” he said.

More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

The initial session turnout surprised organizers, but only a small percentage of the crowd offered public comment. Organizers, including UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, collected comments from the crowd as they left. Those comments will be compiled and used at educational sessions later this year. MaryLou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the CSU Colorado Water Institute, said the sessions were conceived as a city of Fort Collins event, but she realized, from the turnout, that other communities along the 126-mile stretch of the river should also be included.

Reagan Waskom, director of the water institute at CSU, said the Poudre River, as well as others in northern Colorado, face serious demands in the future. Much of those demands will come from expected growth along the Front Range. To meet those demands, he said, an additional 500,000 to 800,000 acre feet of water a year will be needed; an acre-foot of water is considered enough to supply two families with a year’s supply of water. The annual flow of the Poudre is about 275,000 acre feet…

Tom Moore is a local farmer and business owner who said cities in the area are willing to pay $10,000 an acre-foot for water. “It’s hard to put an agricultural value of one-third that,” he said, adding it is the quality of water in the region that draw people and businesses.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project update

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Chandler Peter, the Army Corps’ coordinator for the study, said Tuesday he expects the study to be complete sometime in late 2011, making it more than a year late. He said he can’t predict precisely when the study will be released. “It’s just because there are things that pop up that you don’t anticipate,” Peter said. “One thing leads to another.”

Specifically, the draft study is being held up by difficulties in reconciling a hydrological analysis of NISP with corresponding analyses for the proposed Halligan and Seaman reservoir expansion projects. “We’ve been trying to pull those together and look at that with one voice,” Peter said. “That’s more complex than we anticipated.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

‘The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future’

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Update: Here’s the release from the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado (Contact: Ray Caraway 970-488-1980 or Ray@CommunityFoundationNC.org):

WATER AND THE POUDRE RIVER: PUBLIC INVITED TO LEARN AND ENGAGE



What do we use every day, but know little about? Water! The future of the Poudre River and water for Northern Colorado is much debated, but how well do we understand the issues surrounding it?
The public is invited to join three entities providing community leadership – UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University, and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado – in creating shared understandings of the complex topic of water in Northern Colorado. The organizers believe these shared understandings will result in a better informed and more engaged community.

The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future is a three-part series that begins with a public forum on Thursday, February 3 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. The gathering will highlight the river and its social, environmental and economic impacts – past, present and future. It will take place at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building (200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins).

Subsequent “Northern Colorado Water 101” educational programs in February and March, facilitated by the Colorado Water Institute, will offer members of the public opportunities to learn in a user-friendly format. These programs will cover a broad range of topics, including the importance of the Poudre to agriculture, the city, the environment; the water law that governs diversions from the river and its quality; various efforts to preserve and enhance the river; and objective coverage of current controversies surrounding the river. The public will gain a better understanding of potential options for securing water for future water needs including conservation, agricultural transfers, storage, reuse, and land planning strategies.

In April, public dialogue opportunities will be facilitated by the CSU Center for Public Deliberation to give community members a chance to hear from their neighbors, have their voice heard, and collaboratively work through the tough issues.

“Our region has gained well-deserved national recognition for its excellence and innovation,” Ray Caraway, president of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado said. “How we deal with the complex issues surrounding water will shape our future and test our ability to find solutions in the midst of controversy.”

Co-sponsored by UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University, and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, the entire series is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, visit http://www.UniverCityConnections.org or contact Chelsea DeFoort at Chelsea@CommunityFoundationNC.org.

###
UniverCity Connections, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, facilitates productive conversations regarding Colorado State University, Downtown Fort Collins and the Poudre River. Colorado State University and the Colorado Water Institute are leaders in research, education, and outreach for water issues in Colorado and around the world. CSU Center for Public Deliberation enhances local democracy through improved public communication and community problem solving. The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit organization that manages more than 300 individual charitable funds and $44 million in assets.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Should Glade Reservoir be built? How would it and other proposed water-storage projects affect the Poudre River? CSU and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado will help answer those questions during a series of public forums in February, March and April…

Called “The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future,” the series of three forums will address how the Poudre River affects agriculture and the city of Fort Collins and how water law governs how water is used and diverted from one river basin to another. The forums are designed to help the public gain a greater understanding of Northern Colorado’s future water needs, where the water might have to come from and how the Poudre River fits into that future…

The first event will be a public forum about the river’s social, environmental and economic impacts. The forum is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Larimer County office building at 200 W. Oak St. Educational forums called “Northern Colorado Water 101” will be scheduled in March and April, followed by other forums facilitated by CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation. The series, co-sponsored by the Community Foundation, UniverCity Connections and CSU, is free and open to the public.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supplemental EIS expected, ‘…latter part of 2011’

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From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):

The initial release for the Supplemental DEIS for NISP was supposed to be in June of 2010, and was initially delayed until the summer of 2011, but is now estimated to be delayed until the “latter part of 2011” according to an email from [Chandler Peter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] to Save the Poudre.

Additionally, the Draft EIS for the new Halligan (Fort Collins) and Seaman (Greeley) dams and reservoirs on the North Fork of the Poudre was slated for the summer of 2011, but is now delayed for a half year after the release of the NISP SDEIS (according to the email from Mr. Peter), which will put them into 2012 and well beyond previous estimates.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

IBCC strategy report

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Here’s an look at how the sides are lining up with respect to the strategy report from the Interbasin Compack Committee presented to Governor Ritter and Governor-elect Hickenlooper, from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The report says water suppliers and interests from across the state need to work together to get that done. But Fort Collins-based Save the Poudre is opposing those efforts, saying the IBCC doesn’t represent environmental interests and its policies harm the Poudre River.

Save the Poudre Executive Director Gary Wockner said in a statement that if the IBCC were to include more environmental groups, harm to the Poudre from new water projects might be averted. The group opposes the Halligan and Seaman reservoir expansion proposals, the Windy Gap Firming Project and the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP. An environmental review of each project is expected to be released in 2011. “The Poudre River is at ‘ground zero’ for river destruction in the southwest U.S.,” Wockner said, adding that the IBCC doesn’t represent diverse interests in Colorado because it doesn’t include any members of the groups that form the Save the Poudre Coalition…

Several South Platte Roundtable members represent environmental interests, including Bob Streeter, who is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was nominated to the board by Trout Unlimited. Streeter said roundtable and IBCC meetings are open and transparent to the public and have involved members of the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and the Audubon Society. “I don’t recall ever seeing any representative from the Save the Poudre organization itself in Fort Collins, though they’re welcome to attend (the roundtable meetings),” Streeter said…

But some of those water projects aren’t likely to do the damage to the Poudre River that Wockner fears, Streeter said. “I don’t think Halligan-Seaman is a Poudre-killing project,” he said, adding that he wants to withhold judgment on NISP, which proposes to construct Glade Reservoir north of Fort Collins, until all the facts on its potential impacts are in.

Update: Here’s a response to Mr. Magill’s article from Gary Wockner at Save The Poudre.

Hi Bobby,

Thank you again for covering these important environmental articles in the Coloradoan. It is great that you are reporting on these stories, and it is wonderful that the Coloradoan prioritizes environmental stories in the newspaper.

Today’s article about water is a complicated issue and it’s a hard story to fit into an easy-to-tell framework…Thank you for taking a shot at covering it.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions for improvements:

1. Your sentence that states, “But Fort Collins-based Save the Poudre is opposing those efforts…” is not accurate. Please note that in the letter to the Governors, we thank the IBCC for their work, we say they made a good start at a very difficult topic, and we strongly suggest “improvements” to the product and process. We do not “oppose” the IBCC or the South Platte Roundtable’s work. We do believe, however, that they desperately need more environmental input — if they do not get more environmental input, it may represent a fatal flaw in their work.

2. Your next sentence says, “The group opposes Halligan and Seaman reservoir expansion proposals, Windy Gap Firming Project and the Northern Integrated Supply Project….” Please note that in the letter to the Governors and in the press release, we do not say we oppose these projects. Officially, our organization only opposes NISP. We have not taken an official position for or against Halligan, Seaman, or WGFP yet. We are awaiting the EIS releases before we do that on those three projects. Our official position on Halligan and Seaman is here:
http://poudreriver.home.comcast.net/~poudreriver/STP_Alternatives_to_Halligan-Seaman_7-18-2010.pdf (I believe I gave this document to you when I visited with your editorial board last year). We have not issued a formal position on WGFP yet, but we did insert very serious concerns into the public comment period for the DEIS.

3. Your article states, “Several South Platte Roundtable members
represent environmental interests…” My understanding is that there
are only two — Bob Streeter representing TU, and and Greg Kernohan
representing Ducks Unlimited (DU). They are both excellent men doing excellent work. Ducks Unlimited, officially, is a “recreational”
representative on the Roundtable (not “environmental”), but since they
do such excellent environmental work, I prefer to call them environmentalists. Officially, there is only one “environmental” representative on the Rountable. The list of people on the Roundtable is here on the CWCB’s website: http://cwcbweblink.state.co.us/weblink/0/doc/126395/Page1.aspx?searchid=aacce0cc-a3ef-4b7b-85bd-fa08f748588f

4. Bob Streeter’s statement about not recollecting seeing reps from STP at the Roundtable is not accurate. We are a part of a big coalition, and we have had coalition partners attend several South Platte Roundtable meetings and report back to us. In addition, our Board and staff have attended his Roundtable meetings a few times.

5. Your sentence that starts, “While the IBCC suggests….” is not
accurate.

a. We quite adamantly do support water conservation.
b. We absolutely do not say that “instead” of focusing on water conservation, the state should control population growth.
c. We do not say anything about “controlling” population growth.

We say “managing” population growth. “Managing” is different than “controlling.” The IBCC report mentions managing population growth and land-use planning several times — we agree, and we want to support that direction of thinking and see more of it in their future work.

6. Bob Streeter says that he doesn’t think Halligan-Seaman is a
Poudre-killing project. We are awaiting to see the EIS before we make
any such statement. The science that came out of the Halligan-Seaman SVP process that we participated in suggested that the projects would have profound negative impacts on the North Fork of the Poudre, and have some negative impacts on the mainstem of the Poudre River through Fort Collins. A list of those impacts is here in our letter to the CWCB (which provided the grant for Shared Vision Planning): http://poudreriver.home.comcast.net/~poudreriver/STP_letter_to_CWCB_SVP_7-18-2010.pdf

7. Finally, Brian Werner’s statement is accurate — the bill was passed 5 years ago under a different Governor and a different legislature. However, at that time, environmentalists did voice opinions about having more environmental representation into the committees, but our environmental community’s opinions were not adopted into the law.

Thank you again for taking a shot at this complex story. I am
continually striving to improve the way that I communicate with public
officials, agencies, and the press, and I think that this story shows
that I need to work harder to do that. I should have called you and
talked this over. Feel free to call me anytime.

Gary

p.s. Because this Coloradoan story contains some inaccurate statements saying we “oppose” projects and processes that we do not, I also have to forward this email to specific representatives at the EPA, the Army Corps, the Bureau of Rec, the cities of Fort Collins and Greeley, and the IBCC leaders at the State (I will Cc you on that email). We are involved in some official and legal processes with these regulatory agencies, and with these EIS applicants, and we have to make sure that our positions are conveyed accurately.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here and here.

The Forest Service and Water Supply and Storage Company ink the deal for the irrigation company’s Long Draw Reservoir operations

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

The decision gives the Water Supply and Storage Co. a 30-year easement for operations at Long Draw Reservoir, near the top of the Poudre Canyon. It requires the company to participate with the U.S. Forest and Park Services in the restoration of native trout populations and the installation of an early warning system to provide around-the-clock monitoring at the dam at the reservoir…

The decision signed Thursday, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, includes a description of the background of the project that includes the Environmental Impact Statement. It will be posted online at www.fs.usda.gov/arp.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Greeley: Long-term water planning reveals higher rates in the ratepayers future

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

As Water and Sewer Director Jon Monson looks at the sizable footprint of Greeley’s future — the 2060 comprehensive plan has the city growing heavily to the north and west — “I need to look up the river quite a ways, a long time, to make sure that water will be there when people need it.”

At the center of this multi-layered planning are residents, upon whom cities rely to fund operations and storage projects. The typical Greeley household water bill is $45.83 a month, and that, if a planned water acquisition occurs, would rise about $30 per month over the next 10 years. By comparison, rates have climbed $8.85 per month, or 24 percent, since 2003. “The only place we get our money is the ratepayers. It’s basically an investment in our water future,” Monson said. “… To grow into this area (of the 2060 plan) with the lifestyle we’re accustomed to, or we want, Tree City USA, takes water. And the time to get that water is now, when it’s available and it’s relatively inexpensive.”[…]

Monson’s department would like to buy $90 million worth of water in the next six years. While that would help ensure the city’s needs for several decades, water rates would likely climb 84 percent in the next 10 years, or by $30 per single-family home per month. That’s compared to rates rising, if no additional water is bought, 47 percent in the next decade, or $17 per home. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the overall acquisition — the initial $30 million buy coming in the 2011-12 budget — rates would be in the upper third of Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates during the 10-year period…

“We’re not making money,” Monson said. “We’re not a for-profit agency. We’re just covering our costs.” The department’s annual costs currently are $30.5 million, breaking down to about $12 million for operations, $11 million for debt service, $6 million for depreciation and a $1 million from the general fund.

Greeley is involved in numerous regional water storage and delivery projects, including the Haligan and Milton-Seaman reservoir expansions in the Poudre Canyon area, the Windy Gap Firming Project west of Loveland and the Bellvue Pipeline in Larimer County…

Also, Monson said, the city is dealing with critical water maintenance projects, including headgate repair and replacement at the Boyd and Freeman ditch, from the recent flooding; ongoing cement-lining installation in older, rusting pipes in downtown; outlet gate construction at Milton-Seaman reservoir; and centrifuge replacement at the wastewater treatment plant. All those elements — plus rising electrical and power costs and the regional water projects that cost into the millions in permitting alone — factor into water rates. In Greeley, Monson said, about a quarter of a household’s water bill goes to maintenance costs…

Also, he said, elusive future water supplies will likely be lower quality. Greeley is trying to secure as much source water as possible from close to the Poudre Canyon mouth. If the city waited until primary water sources flowed close to town, it would need to do expensive reverse-osmosis treatment and lose the natural down-gravity flow from the canyon.

More Greeley coverage here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement now planned for summer 2011

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the project, which would draw water from the Poudre River, is now projected to be ready for public review in summer 2011. The final EIS is expected to be completed a year later, said Chandler Peter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

A draft EIS on the project was released in April 2008. The document elicited hundreds of comments from members of the public and government agencies, including the city of Fort Collins. Because of the complexity and number of comments, the Corps announced in February it and a third-party contractor would craft a supplemental draft EIS with an eye toward releasing it next year. But more time is needed to collect data and work on computer modeling of the river’s flows and how it would be affected by various projects, Peter said.

The delay is tied in part to the Corps’ effort to use a “common technical platform” when evaluating several water projects proposed for the Poudre, including the expansion of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs, said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water…

So far the process of crafting an EIS for the project has taken almost six year and cost more than $5 million.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Halligan Reservoir: 3 water districts quit expansion project

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Here’s a report from Kevin Duggan writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The expense of an ongoing environmental analysis of the proposed expansion has driven the Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County and North Weld County water districts away from the $60 million project. In letters sent to city officials, the water districts noted a 2004 agreement authorizing the environmental analysis, which is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive a permit for the project, would cost no more than $4 million. So far, more than $5 million has been spent on the analysis by participating entities and “it appears little progress, if any, has been made in the planning and environmental review for permitting the project,” the districts wrote.

Backing away from the project is primarily a financial decision, said Mike Scheid, manager of the East Larimer County, or ELCO, Water District. The district serves a portion of northeast Fort Collins and areas of unincorporated Larimer County…

Another concern of the districts is an apparent lack of support for the project among some Fort Collins City Council members, said Mike DiTullio, general manager of the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District. The district covers part of south for Fort Collins. During a recent study session on the project, some council members questioned the size and need for the expansion, which would almost triple the size of the reservoir to 40,000 acre feet…

Fort Collins officials say they will continue with the Corps’ environmental impact statement process, although they are reviewing options such as reducing the size of the proposed expansion to about 20,000 acre feet. The reservoir’s current capacity is 6,500 acre feet…

With the Tri-Districts out, the city’s remaining partner is the North Poudre Irrigation Co., which owns the water stored in Halligan. The city owns the property covered by the facility and the right to expand. Of the $5.3 million spent on the project, about $2.3 million has been in payments to North Poudre for the Halligan site, city officials say. North Poudre manager Steve Smith said the irrigation company plans to stick with the project and the permitting process.

The Corps is conducting a combined environmental impact statement, or EIS, process on Halligan and Milton Seaman Reservoir, which is owned by the city of Greeley. A draft EIS on the proposals is expected to be complete by early 2011, said Chandler Peter, project manager with the Corps. Much of the technical analysis of the project is already complete, Peter said. With the Tri-Districts out of the project, the Corps will examine the viability of alternative projects that might require less water. How much more the EIS process will cost participants is not clear, Peter said. The process has been extended, in part, by the Corps’ decision to use a “common technical platform” for all water projects proposed for the Poudre River basin, including the controversial Northern Integrate Water Supply Project, or NISP, proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

“Whoever wants to drain, divert or dam the Poudre needs to understand it’s not going to be fast, cheap or easy,” [Gary Wockner, Colorado program manager for the environmental group Clean Water Action] said.

More Halligan-Seaman expansion coverage here and here.

Halligan Reservoir Expansion project: Fort Collins’ council weighing environmental impact

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

some City Council members said Tuesday they want to make sure the proposed expansion, which would increase the reservoir’s capacity more than six times, meets city needs without causing excessive environmental harm…

Council members received an update on the project, which has been in various stages of planning for 20 years. The expansion would provide the city with enough water to serve its population at “build out” and provide protection against drought, officials say. The project would expand the reservoir from 6,500 acre feet to 40,000 acre feet. An acre foot of water is enough to meet the annual needs of two or three urban households. Partners with Fort Collins in the Halligan project are North Poudre Irrigation Co., North Weld County Water District, Fort Collins-Loveland Water District and the East Larimer Water District. The estimated cost of the project is $60 million. The city’s share would be $21 million.

Greeley has proposed expanding its nearby Seaman Reservoir from 5,000 to 53,000 acre feet. The Halligan-Seaman projects are being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers through a single environmental impact statement process.

If permitted by the Corps late next year, the enlarged Halligan could be operational by 2015.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.