Hello Poudre River Lovers! THIS IS IT! Today is Giving Tuesday -- Thank you for your support! Please donate on our website at: http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/donate/ In the next few months, we will make our final decisions about challenging the permits for NISP at the local, state, and federal level, and YOUR financial support will make those decisions for us. For 18 years, we’ve been fighting to stop the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) because it would further dam/drain/divert the Poudre River through Fort Collins. Here’s an update on where the battle is right now. First, 2 of 3 Larimer County Commissioners voted to approve NISP, a decision that was finalized in early November 2020. We’ve pulled out all the stops in our effort to reverse this decision. So far, we’ve: Filed a lawsuit arguing that two of the County Commissioners are biased due to their decades of support for NISP. Will be filing another lawsuit against Larimer County specifically for the NISP decision. Worked in close coalition with two local neighborhood groups – “Save Rural NoCo” and “No Pipe Dream” – to fight the project and influence the County’s decision. Continued to make news arguing that NISP should use the river as a conveyance. The Denver Post (above left) highlighted our work to fight both NISP and the Thornton Pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 15th. And, the Fort Collins Coloradoan (right) accurately covered the Larimer County hearing process extensively. The County permit process completely ignored many issues, and completely ignored 95% of all public comment opposing NISP. The outrageous decision to support NISP by two term-limited Commissioners can and must be overturned. We have a strong case in the courts to overturn this decision and we are aggressively pursuing it. We are fighting every step of the way in this County permit debacle. It ain’t over yet! Second, our legal action against the State of Colorado is moving forward with a final decision occurring while this letter goes to press. The state gave a “401 water quality permit” to NISP. Save The Poudre's appeal alleges thirteen violations of State regulations when the State gave its permit. The Top Five violations are: No water rights – the plan to fill Glade Reservoir requires buying hundreds of farms in Weld County, whereas only two farms have been bought. Fails to take into account climate change and its reduction in streamflow in the Poudre River. Mitigation won’t occur until full build-out, maybe 30 years in the future. Mitigation doesn’t allow for peak flows to clean out the river and restore the riparian forest through Fort Collins. Fails to quantify any requirements to meet state water quality standards and relies on nebulous "adaptive management". The State permit was given by the staff at the Water Quality Control Division. The appeal is to the "Water Quality Control Commission" appointed by Governor Polis. If the “Commission” votes against the Poudre River, we can file a lawsuit in Larimer County District Court. Finally, Save The Poudre is awaiting the…
April 13, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado and Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310
Will Colorado’s Cratering Economy Impact Ponzi Growth-Scheme Dam Project Financing?
Fort Collins: Last week, due to the cratering of Colorado’s economy by the coronavirus lockdown, the City of Broomfield, Colorado, announced that it was “furloughing” about 25% of its City workforce (see Broomfield Enterprise story here). At the exact same time, Broomfield is on the financial hook for a massively expensive proposed dam project that would further drain the Colorado River called the “Windy Gap Firming Project”.
The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to drain a new 9 billion gallons of water every year out of the Upper Colorado River, and pipe that water to rapidly growing suburbs north of Denver, with Broomfield being the biggest participant in the project. Broomfield’s share is 29.4%, wanting 26,464 acre feet of the proposed 90,000 acre feet of water storage in the project (see participants’ shares here).
Recently, the Longmont Observer (see story here, Longmont is also a participant in the project) reported that the Windy Gap Firming Project applicant, Northern Water, announced that the total cost of the project has now soared to $575 million, which would bring Broomfield’s share to $169.05 million. Many of the project participants intend to issue debt, via revenue bonds, that would be paid back by future growth and ever-rising water rates on residents.
“The debt financing for this and other dam projects in Colorado is all based on a ponzi scheme of growth,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “With the cratering of the economy, and a likely recession with stalled growth, all of these projects may face huge financial headwinds as well as continued legal challenges.”
The Windy Gap Firming Project is currently being litigated and still pending in federal district court in Denver. Back in October of 2017, six conservation organizations, led by Save The Colorado, filed a lawsuit against the agencies that gave the project permits — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. One of the claims in the lawsuit is that the cost of water conservation and alternatives to the dam project were not adequately considered in the federal Environmental Impact Statement process.
“Water conservation, reuse, and recycling is cheaper, easier, and faster than any new dam project,” said Wockner. “And, those alternatives require little or no debt financing, aren’t subject to boom-and-bust ponzi growth-schemes, and don’t get challenged in court by environmentalists because they don’t drain and destroy rivers.”
Other dam projects in Colorado may be at even more risk. The proposed “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP), which would further dam and destroy the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins, is even more expensive — estimated to be at least $1.2 billion — and would serve small towns mostly in Weld County which has experienced a complete economic meltdown because of the crashing of oil prices. Weld County is the most heavily drilled and fracked county in Colorado with over 20,000 active oil and gas wells. Unlike the City of Broomfield, NISP participant towns are all small, nearly completely dependent on debt financing and growth schemes to pay off the debt.
This press release is posted here.