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PRESS RELEASE: Dam To Nowhere? Massive Northern Colorado Dam Project Must Now Buy “100 Or More Farms”

For Immediate Release
March 6, 2019

Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Dam To Nowhere? Massive Northern Colorado Dam Project Must Now Buy “100 Or More Farms”

Fort Collins, CO: Last week, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) revealed that they would have to buy “100 or more farms” containing 25,000 acre feet of water to supply the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and its huge proposed Glade Reservoir.

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PRESSER: The Northern Integrated Supply Project Would Violate Clean Water Act

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

The Northern Integrated Supply Project Would Help Kill The Poudre River, Violate Clean Water Act

“Diverting what’s left of the peak flows of water would increasingly turn the river — which is greatly loved by the people of Fort Collins — into a muddy, stinking, lifeless ditch.” — Gary Wockner

Fort Collins: Today, Oct 4th, was the close of the public comment period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a massive, billion-dollar, proposed dam and diversion that would further drain the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins. Save The Poudre and other Conservation Groups inserted a 36-page document into the comment period (along with 282 pages of technical attachments) — prepared by the Washington D.C.-based law firm, “Meyer, Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP” — arguing that the Army Corps would be violating the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act if they give a permit to NISP.

Save The Poudre and the Conservation Groups argue that the impacts of NISP on the Cache la Poudre River would be devastatingly negative to the health of the river and the wetlands along the river as it flows through Fort Collins. Building NISP, the Groups argue, would not be the “Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative” (LEDPA) which the Clean Water Act requires. In fact, about 63% of the river’s water is already diverted by farms and cities before the river reaches downtown Fort Collins, and NISP proposes to cause massively more environmental damage by diverting about 40% of what’s left of the peak flows in the months of May and June, on average.

“NISP would cost over a billion dollars and basically kill the Poudre River through Fort Collins,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “Diverting what’s left of the peak flows of water would increasingly turn the river — which is greatly loved by the people of Fort Collins — into a muddy, stinking, lifeless ditch.”

Save The Poudre and the Conservation Groups factually argue that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FEIS violates the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act because the Corps:

  • Failed to implement and analyze a proper “alternatives analysis” that would cause less damage on the environment, including alternatives that use more water conservation and buy water from farmers.
  • Failed to adequately analyze the negative impacts to water quality in the river.
  • Failed to adequately analyze negative impacts to sensitive wetlands and the forest along the Poudre River corridor in Fort Collins.
  • Failed to adequately analyze the negative impacts to the Whitewater Park currently being built in downtown Fort Collins.
  • Failed to provide adequate mitigation caused by the devastating negative impacts of NISP.

“The FEIS violates federal law,” said Gary Wockner. “The Corps has one more chance to correct these fatal errors when they create the ‘Record of Decision’ in the coming months. We’ve had an eagle-eye on NISP and the Corps for 15 years and we are dug in to protect the beautiful Cache la Poudre River through the end of this process.”

The Conservation Groups include Save The Poudre, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, Wildearth Guardians, Save The Colorado, and Fort Collins Audubon Society.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2nd, the Fort Collins City Council also responded to the FEIS by voting to send comments to the Corps about the negative impacts on the river and to “Not Support NISP”. The City focuses on the project’s negative impacts of how “the declined flows, and only three days of peak days, would hurt the surrounding environment, flood plains and overall river health.” (as reported by the Fort Collins Coloradoan — see article here)

The Save The Poudre/Conservation Groups’ comment letter is posted here.

This press release is posted here.

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PRESSER: State Must Investigate, Reveal Cause of Fish Kill on Poudre River

For Immediate Release
Oct. 1, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

State Must Investigate, Reveal Cause of Fish Kill on the Poudre River

Fort Collins: Recent news reports have indicated that the fish kill on the Poudre River through Fort Collins has wiped out thousands of fish (see Sept 28 Coloradoan story here). Further, one of the prevailing hypotheses for the kills is warmer temperatures and lower flows in the Poudre River.  Further yet, warmer temperatures and lower flows may be the exact future for the Poudre River as climate change intensifies and if the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) is built.

“The State must fully investigate and reveal the cause of this fish kill,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “If it is related to warmer temperatures and lower flows, then climate change and NISP could turn the river through Fort Collins into a muddy, stinking, dead ditch, not a river ever again.”

About 63% of the water in the Poudre River is already drained out by cities and farmers before the river reaches downtown Fort Collins. If the Northern Integrated Supply Project is built, about 40% of what’s left of the peak flow of water during May and June will also be drained out (see July 20 press release here). Even worse, the proposed ‘mitigation’ for the huge negative impacts on the health of the river wouldn’t extend downstream past LeMay Avenue in Fort Collins where the fish kill has occurred.

“NISP would basically kill the Poudre River through Fort Collins,” said Wockner.  “The State and the Army Corps of Engineers must do a full analysis of the potential impacts of NISP including its low flows and interaction with climate change.”

October 4th is the deadline for comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for NISP.

The public can send in comments to the Army Coprs by clicking through to Save The Poudre’s ACTION PAGE HERE.

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PRESS RELEASE: Thornton Pipeline TABLED

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Fort Collins, CO: Tonight, the Larimer County Commisioners “TABLED” the Thornton Pipeline application until December 2018. After multiple meetings and public process and testimony, the Commissioners voted unanimously to TABLE Thornton’s 1041 permit to run a massive pipeline across northern Larimer County carrying Poudre River water. All three Commissioners said that Thornton did not consider alternatives, especially the ‘Poudre River Option’. The Commissioners want more public outreach and information.

“Thornton now has a tremendous opportunity to work with, not against, the people of Larimer County and do the right thing for the Poudre River by choosing the ‘Poudre River Option'”, said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “We’d be delighted to work with the City of Thornton — as we have told them for 10 years now — to see them run their water down the Poudre River thereby providing great benefits to the river and the people of Larimer County while still ensuring Thornton’s future water supply.”

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Gary Wockner, PhD, Director
Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper
Author: “River Warrior: Fighting to Protect the World’s Rivers” (2016)
PO Box 20, Fort Collins, CO 80522
http://savethepoudre.org
http://www.facebook.com/SaveThePoudre

970-218-8310

PRESS RELEASE: Groundhog Day On The Poudre River: With Release of NISP FEIS, Nothing Has Changed In 15 Years

For Immediate Release
Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper
Contact: Gary Wockner, Director, 970-218-8310

Groundhog Day On The Poudre River: With Release of NISP FEIS, Nothing Has Changed In 15 Years As Massive Dam Project Would Still Drain The Poudre Through Fort Collins

Fort Collins, CO: Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the long-awaited “Final Environmental Impact Statement (link here)” (FEIS) for the “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP), a massive proposed new dam/diversion that would further drain the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins. Although 15 years has passed by, nothing has changed — the project would still dramatically reduce river flows and have huge negative impacts on the river.

In fact, right off the bat on page 15 (link here, image below), the FEIS indicates that the NISP “preferred alternative” (“2M”) would drain 45% of the water out of the river in May during high-flow periods and 39% of the water in June, the two peak flow months in downtown Fort Collins. Further, these impacts would occur exactly where the City of Fort Collins will begin construction of a new whitewater park this Fall (See graph below for the “Lincoln Gage” which is right across the street from New Belgium Brewing).

“It’s Groundhog Day on the Poudre River,” said Gary Wockner. “Every day for 15 years we’ve been waking up and nothing has changed — and now this FEIS clearly indicates, again, that NISP would further drain and destroy the Poudre River through Fort Collins.”

Further yet, the Poudre River has already had 63% of its water drained out by farms and cities at the same point in the river, and thus this new diversion would dramatically decrease river flows compared to the river’s natural state.

The FEIS weighs in a 2,272 pages plus 23 additional “technical reports”, but the Army Corps has given the public a paltry 45 days to review the massive document.

“The first thing we will do is send the Corps a request to extend the public comment period,” said Wockner. “And then our team of scientists and attorneys will dig in for our summer of reading.”

“We’ve been at this for 15 years, and we are digging in for the home stretch,” continued Wockner. “We are bigger, stronger, and better funded than ever, and we will never stop fighting to protect the Poudre.”

This press release is posted here.

***end***


Gary Wockner, PhD, Director
Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper
PO Box 20, Fort Collins, CO 80522
http://savethepoudre.org
http://www.facebook.com/SaveThePoudre

970-218-8310

PRESS RELEASE: June 22/23, 50th Anniversary Celebration, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Cache la Poudre

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, 970-218-8310

June 22/23, 50th Anniversary Celebration, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Cache la Poudre

Fort Collins: Toyota USA, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and Save The Poudre are joining together on June 22nd and 23rd to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act with a SPLASH event. The celebration will be on the Cache la Poudre River, the ONLY Wild and Scenic River in the state of Colorado designated by an Act of Congress.

The celebration will feature:

  • June 22: Photography presentation by renowned Colorado nature photographer John Fielder featuring his photographs of beautiful rivers in Colorado, at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins at 7:00 pm (Information and tickets here).
  • June 23: Free half-day rafting on the Cache la Poudre River for 100 guests, including a free Save The Poudre t-shirt, funded by Toyota. The rafting trips will be hosted by Mountain Whitewater and Wanderlust, both long-term professional rafting companies on the Cache la Poudre.

“The Cache la Poudre is a beautiful river and we are lucky to have it here in northern Colorado,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Poudre. “Please join the celebration to enjoy this Wild and Scenic River, and if you can’t join us, try to get out on the river as often as possible this summer.”

“Beyond our own water conservation and watershed protection activities, through this partnership we aim to drive awareness in the community about the importance of protecting our water resources,” said Kevin Butt, general manager of environmental sustainability, Toyota Motor North America. “The SPLASH series provides a fun way to contribute to water conservation projects and make a difference.”

“Engaging people with their local waterways is a crucial part of securing drinkable, fishable, swimmable water,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “The SPLASH Event Series strengthens connections between communities and waterways across the country. We thank Toyota for their commitment to the environment, clean water, and another great year of SPLASH.”

See more about the national Toyota/Waterkeeper SPLASH series here.

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PRESS RELEASE: To Avoid Federal Permit, Thornton Continues To Drain Poudre and Wreak Havoc on NoCO Neighbors

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

To Avoid Federal Permit, Thornton Continues to Drain the Poudre River and Proposes Massive Water Pipeline that would Wreak Havoc on NoCO Neighborhoods, Even Though “Poudre River Option” is $50 Million – $150 Million Cheaper

Fort Collins, CO: Through a Colorado Open Records Act, it has been revealed that the City of Thornton has long been analyzing the “Poudre River Option” (see map here) for their Thornton Water Supply Project. That analysis indicates that the Poudre River Option could be $50 million – $150 million cheaper than a “Pipeline Option”, but Thornton is almost solely choosing the Pipeline Option to avoid permitting processes, especially a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Samples of slides from the Thornton Water Project presentation.

The short summary presentation (posted here, dated June 3, 2014) was prepared by City of Thornton staff for the Thornton Planning Commission and the Thornton City Council back in June of 2014. The presentation contains several slides about the permitting process and the City’s discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers about how to avoid the Corps permit process.

The Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins is already severely depleted, with 63% if its water drained out by farms and cities before the river reaches downtown Fort Collins. Thornton’s diversion already occurs, but the amount of water — up to 20,000 acre feet (over 6 billion gallons/year) — proposed for the Project could be sent down the Poudre River through Fort Collins and diverted into the Thornton Pipeline downstream near Windsor, thus vitally replenishing the Poudre River through Fort Collins. In addition, the water could be sent down the river during the peak flow months of June/July/August when the water would make the river healthier for people and the environment.

“Thornton has the opportunity to do the right thing. In fact, we’ve been talking to Thornton about this for nearly 10 years,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Poudre. “Running this water through Fort Collins would not only save Thornton a lot of money, it would make the river cleaner and healthier for people who recreate in the river as well as support the wetlands and riparian forest through Fort Collins.”

Thornton has applied for a “1041 permit” from Larimer County to run the water through a proposed massive pipeline under and along Douglas Road north of Fort Collins, through other neighborhoods north and east of Fort Collins, and down through neighborhoods near Windsor. The Larimer County Planning Commission is considering the permit on Wednesday, May 16th. If the Planning Commission approves the pipeline, the final permit authority goes to the Larimer County Commissioners at a meeting currently scheduled for July 9th.

“Thornton should collaborate instead of continuing to drain the Poudre River through Fort Collins and wreaking havoc on neighborhoods,” said Wockner. “Why won’t Thornton collaborate? The people of Fort Collins would embrace Thornton as a good neighbor if Thornton did the right thing here.”

Over the last several years, Save The Poudre has told Thornton that Save The Poudre would support the federal permit and help shepherd the Project through the permitting process at the state and federal level if Thornton chose the “Poudre River Option”.

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PRESS RELEASE: THORNTON’S 1041 APPLICATION SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 25, 2018

     For Further Information Contact:
     Karen Wagner,  970-227-7437

THORNTON’S 1041 APPLICATION SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN
UNTIL PHASES 2 & 3 OF THE THORNTON NORTHERN PROJECT ARE MADE PUBLIC 

Based on Thornton’s own admissions in today’s (4/25/18) Rocky Mountain Collegian article, the grassroots No Pipe Dream organization, Save the Poudre and the citizens of Larimer County call on the Larimer County Planning Department to inform the City of Thornton that its 1041 application is premature and should be withdrawn, until all present and future impacts of the city’s water transfers on land uses in Larimer County can be satisfactorily demonstrated.

In the Collegian article, Thornton officials admit that multiple pipelines could be needed in Larimer County in the future; Thornton’s current 1041 application is limited to a single pipeline.  Additionally the city stated that it was currently uncertain as to when the Denver suburb will need to deliver more water from the Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County.  Both statements are at odds with Thornton’s most recent contentions that a single 48” pipeline will be sufficient to meet the city’s needs until 2065 and that the 3-phase project doesn’t include additional raw water or return flow pipelines.

No Pipe Dream, Save the Poudre and the citizens of Larimer County publicly call for the City of Thornton to withdraw its 1041 pipeline application for Phase 1 of the Thornton Northern Project, until such time that Thornton adequately lays out the full scope of the 3-phase project, provides a timeline and project description for Phase 2 and Phase 3, and discloses all present and future impacts to land uses in Larimer County as is required by the land use code.   

If Thornton declines to withdraw its current, Phase 1 application, we ask the Larimer County Planning Department, in consultation with the Larimer County Commissioners, to once again cancel the upcoming hearings based on a 1041 application that is premature, piecemeal, incomplete and fails to comply with the requirements of the land use code.

As residents of Larimer County, we believe it would be a dereliction of duty for the Larimer County Planning Commission and the County Commissioners to consider or approve the current 1041 application without full disclosure of all present and future land use impacts of Thornton’s water transfers and the Northern Water Project .  If Thornton cannot evaluate all present and future impacts at this time, the City should withdraw its application and reapply when all of those impacts can be substantiated.

                                                     # # #

Submitted by Karen Wagner (kaswagner@me.com)

on behalf of the No Pipe Dream Steering Committee
for Save The Poudre

Colorado Water Plan Prepares To Drain Front Range Rivers?

For Immediate Release
April 23, 2018
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado/Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Colorado Water Plan Prepares To Drain Northern Front Range Rivers?

CWCB Proposed “Regional Water Development Projects”

Front Range, CO: Today, Save The Colorado is sounding a statewide alarm about an apparent effort by the Colorado Water Conservation Board to launch a large-scale “Water Development” strategy to identify to new dam and diversion projects on Front Range rivers. The CWCB sent out an email at 1:59pm on Friday April 20, 2018, announcing “workshops” aimed at “Water providers and stakeholders in the South Platte River basin interested in a regional water management and storage project.” The email, with flyer (posted here), goes on to say that the “South Platte/Metro Basin Implementation Plan” says the “projects will need to be developed.” The workshops, both in May, are scheduled at the state’s two biggest water agencies — Denver Water and the Northern Water.

The “implementation plans” were developed during the “Colorado Water Plan” process, with the South Platte/Metro Basin Roundtable being the center of extreme controversy around the state. The Roundtable and its Implementation Plan identified a spider’s web of dam and pipeline projects, diverting water from rivers all over the state and sending that water to the Denver/Northern Colorado metroplex. This new Front Range “Water Development” strategy seems to be the first salvo in the next wave of dam proposals.

“The Colorado Water Plan was extremely controversial and too heavily focused on draining and destroying rivers, not protecting and restoring them,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado and Save The Poudre. “We will continue our vigilance as this process moves forward and we will fight to protect the rivers across the state.”

**end**

PRESS RELEASE: Larimer County Must Use “1041” for NISP, not IGA

For Immediate Release
March 29, 2018
Save The Poudre, Gary Wockner: 970-218-8310

Larimer County Must Use “1041” for NISP, not IGA

Cache la Poudre River, USA: Today, Save The Poudre sent a legal letter to the Larimer County Commissioners notifying them that they must use a “1041” permit process for evaluating and regulating the Northern Integrated Supply Project (“NISP”) rather than an Intergovernmental Agreement (“IGA”). The letter (posted here) states that Larimer County’s IGA provisions “are unconstitutionally vague and violate due process”. Further, the letter cites numerous legal precedents where other Colorado counties have used 1041 regulations for projects exactly like NISP.

“Larimer County’s IGA provisions are unconstitutionally vague and violate due process,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “The County must use a 1041 permit process — just as other Colorado counties have done — to give the people of Larimer County their legal due process to evaluate and speak out about this important issue facing the county’s future.”

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