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PRESS RELEASE: U.S. EPA Invites Massive Loan to Bail Out Poudre River Dam Boondoggle

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

Fort Collins, CO: Yesterday, Save The Poudre was informed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has “invited” the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) to apply for a massive loan of U.S. taxpayer money to try and bail out the $2.25 billion NISP boondoggle (see page 4 on the EPA’s website here). NISP — the massive proposed Poudre River dam project  which has limped along for 20 years in permitting and in court — was originally proposed to cost $140 million in 2004, and now is proposed to cost $2.25 billion (see our previous press release here about the cost of NISP).

Two years ago, NISP sent a “letter of interest” to the EPA, asking for a $484 million loan from the U.S. taxpayer through the EPA’s “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) program to bailout the project.  After NISP sent its letter of interest, Save The Poudre sent lengthy comments to the EPA about how the project should not receive a taxpayer loan (our comment letter to EPA is posted here). The EPA completely ignored Save The Poudre’s comments and has now invited NISP to apply for a loan.

“As our comments made clear, the EPA should be investigating NISP for the criminal violation of lying in its letter of interest, not asking NISP to apply for a loan,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “NISP purposely used ‘falsification and misrepresentation’ in its letter about the environmental impacts of NISP which is a criminal violation.”

In addition to ignoring Save The Poudre’s comments, the EPA has also ignored the City of Fort Collins. As our 12/4/2021 press release points out, the City of Fort Collins has grave concerns about the impact of NISP on the Poudre River’s water quality and the City’s Natural Areas. To this day, the Fort Collins City Council has voted to be 100% opposed to NISP.

“If the Biden Administration moves this loan forward, they will have effectively turned the EPA into the ‘Environmental Destruction Agency,'” said Wockner. “NISP is lying to the federal government to try and get taxpayer money to bailout a massive river-destruction scheme which violates every ethical standard of the WIFIA program and what the EPA should be doing.”

This press release is posed here.


PRESS RELEASE: Fort Collins Refuses To Implement Water Conservation Measures To Save Ratepayers’ Money

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

Fort Collins Refuses To Implement Water Conservation Measures To Save Ratepayers’ Money
Legal Battle Over Massive Halligan Dam Looms

Fort Collins, CO: Today, Save The Poudre sent its comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed massive new Halligan Dam on the North Fork of the Poudre River to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The massive new dam is proposed to be built by the City of Fort Collins Water Utility to meet so-called “drought protection”.

Save The Poudre’s comments are posted here.

Specifically, Save The Poudre points out in its comments:

  1. The City and the Army Corps completely fail to provide a cost comparison of the alternatives which makes the FEIS meaningless.
  2. The City Water Utility completely fails to discuss water conservation measures that would replace the need for the over $300 million new dam.
  3. The City Water Utility’s water use has been going down, not up, for the last 20 years, but the FEIS relies on water-use data that is now 10 years old while predicting that the higher 10-year old water use will persist for the next 25 years.
  4. The City Water Utility claims it needs more water to also lease water to farmers in northern Larimer County, but completely ignores the fact that the Utility’ charter is legally disallowed from raising rates on ratepayers to serve water to farmers outside the Utility boundary.

“Nearly 20 years ago when this big dumb dam project was supposed to only cost $35 million, I stood in front of the City Council and told them that water conservation was faster, easier, cheaper, and more environmentally sustainable than a massive new dam,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “Now here we are two decades later when the cost of the dam is 10 times higher and the City still refuses to implement aggressive water conservation.”

“This project is an extreme waste of ratepayers’ money, and the Environmental Impact Statement appears to violate the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act,” said Wockner. “We urge the Corps to deny the permit and force the City to implement aggressive water conservation.”



Poudre River Update: We’re Back in Court Against NISP!

Hi Friends of the Poudre,

First, yesterday we filed a lawsuit “appeal” with the Colorado State Court of Appeals in Denver against the former Larimer County Commissioners and the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). Last month, a district court judge in Larimer County ruled against us, and because we strongly disagreed with the judge’s decision, we are now appealing the decision in the state court system in Denver.

In the lawsuit appeal, we principally claim that:

  1. Former Larimer County Commissioners Steve Johnson and Tom Donnelly were biased in their support of NISP and never should’ve been allowed to make a decision about the County permit in 2020.
  2. In the Larimer County permit process, NISP should’ve been required to analyze and use the “Poudre River Alternative” to send all of its water down the Poudre River rather than put the water in a pipeline north of Fort Collins.

This State Court of Appeals lawsuit will play out over the next 6 – 18 months in Denver, and so you’re support will keep us running through the tape!

Second, in addition to this State lawsuit, we are still preparing our Federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for giving a permit to NISP. In fact, the ‘statute of limitations’ to file that lawsuit doesn’t end for 5 more years, and if we move that case forward it could take several more years in court after that. As such, we are taking our time and being very careful and deliberate in our preparation of that lawsuit.

Finally, NISP also has to get a permit from the City of Fort Collins, a process that hasn’t even started yet. When that process does start, likely in early 2024, it will play out over 6 – 12 months within the City, and then if we don’t agree with that decision, we can also challenge it in court.

In summary, it could be YEARS in the future before the final outcome on NISP is decided. Throughout this entire process, we are working STOP NISP or get the best possible outcome for the Cache la Poudre River. In fact, last year we created and publicly supported a “compromise” solution (read about it here) that would allow NISP to be built, but run ALL of its water down the Poudre River instead of putting the River’s precious water in a pipeline. So far, our compromise has not gotten traction.

When NISP started out in 2004, it was supposed to cost $147 million, whereas in 2023, NISP is now supposed to cost $2.25 billion. We will continue to fight as long as it takes to make sure any money that is spent includes the protection and restoration of the Poudre River.

It’s YOUR SUPPORT that keeps us working hard, keeps us in court, and keeps the Poudre River alive!


Thank you!

PRESS RELEASE: Life or Death of the Cache la Poudre River May Escalate to Colorado Supreme Court

For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, 970-218-8310,

Life or Death of the Cache la Poudre River May Escalate to Colorado Supreme Court

Cache la Poudre River, CO: Yesterday, a state district court in Larimer County, CO, ruled against considering the “Poudre River Option” as a conveyance for delivering water downstream to water users, and instead supported a massive 6-foot diameter pipeline that would drain an additional 13 billion gallons of water/year out of the Poudre River before the River reaches Fort Collins.

The court’s decision is posted here.

The ruling sided with former Larimer County Commissioners who supported a 1041 permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) in an October 2020 decision. The ruling didn’t just dismiss the Poudre River Option but completely neglected to discuss it although the lawsuit brought by Save The Poudre, as well as Save The Poudre’s engagement in the permit process back in 2020, extensively argued in support of using the River as the conveyance for water.

Save The Poudre’s response brief in the lawsuit, arguing extensively for the Poudre River Option, is posted here (see pages 19 – 26).

“NISP wants to take 13 billion gallons of water out of the Poudre River every year and put that water in a pipeline that runs near the River and then crosses the River miles downstream near Windsor,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “Using the River as the conveyance for this water, rather than a massive pipeline, is a common-sense compromise that protects the Poudre River as well as saves hundreds of millions of dollars on pipeline costs.”

Both NISP and a parallel project, the Thornton Pipeline, propose to divert Poudre River water into massive pipelines upstream of Fort Collin rather than use the river as a conveyance to get the water downstream. The Thornton Pipeline expects to put in a new application to Larimer County in the coming weeks, while NISP likely faces more court battles as Save The Poudre considers its options for appeal. Further, NISP faces a potential court battle over a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and NISP needs a permit from the City of Fort Collins.

See the image above, as well as page 3 of the court’s ruling, which depicts how NISP would divert a massive amount of water out of the Poudre River into the proposed Glade Reservoir, and then put that water in the “NISP Delivery Pipeline” that would run across Larimer County north of the Poudre River, and then run all the way down along I-25 to Windsor where it would cross the Poudre River.

“We believe that the state’s highest court may need to decide, once and for all, whether the Poudre River lives or dies,” said Wockner. “We are considering our options to appeal this district court decision because Nature created a perfectly good pipeline that runs all the way through Fort Collins and Larimer County — Nature’s pipeline is called the “Cache la Poudre River.”

This press release is posted here.




Poudre River Update: The Cost of NISP

Hi Friends of the Poudre River,

On January 12, 2023, we sent a Colorado Open Records Act request to Northern Water to find out the cost of NISP. Northern responded on January 17, 2023. NISP had ballooned to $2.25 billion according to the spreadsheet Northern Water sent us.

See the spreadsheet by clicking here.

We then calculated the cost per participant, below:

Participant                                                    Acre Feet                     %of Project                 Total Cost

Central Weld Co. W.D.                               3,500 8.75% $             196,866,337.50
Dacono                               1,250 3.13% $               70,309,406.25
Eaton                               1,300 3.25% $               73,121,782.50
Erie                               6,500 16.25% $             365,608,912.50
Evans                               1,200 3.00% $               67,497,030.00
Firestone                               1,300 3.25% $               73,121,782.50
Fort Collins-Loveland. W.D.                               3,400 8.50% $             191,241,585.00
Fort Lupton                               2,050 5.13% $             115,307,426.25
Fort Morgan                               3,600 9.00% $             202,491,090.00
Frederick                               2,600 6.50% $             146,243,565.00
Lafayette                               1,800 4.50% $             101,245,545.00
Lefthand W.D.                               4,900 12.25% $             275,612,872.50
Morgan County Q.W.D.                               1,300 3.25% $               73,121,782.50
Severance                               2,000 5.00% $             112,495,050.00
Windsor                               3,300 8.25% $             185,616,832.50
Total                             40,000 100.00% $               2,249,901,000

Poudre River Update: We’re Suing in Court, Fighting for Better Regulations, and Countering the Lies and Propaganda!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!


We’re aggressively working to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River by suing in court, fighting for better regulations, and countering the lies and propaganda.

First, we are actively in the ‘briefing’ schedule in our state district court case against the proposed, massive, river-destroying reservoir called the “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP). Recall, the former Larimer County Commissioners, Steve Johnson and Tom Donnelly, gave a permit to NISP over 2 years ago and we immediately sued the County.

That case is playing out in court and we may have a decision by the district court judge in the next 6 months. We’re arguing tenaciously that NISP would irreparably damage the Poudre River by diverting so much water out of the river through Fort Collins. Win, lose, or draw, we will keep fighting and take the case all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court if we have to!

We’re also continuing to prepare our lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for giving a permit to NISP. That case will play out in federal court in Denver, and who knows, the Poudre River may get its day in court with the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. as well.

Second, the Fort Collins City Council recently considered new “1041 regulations” that would be required of NISP, and we testified to the Council to make sure the regulations are as strong as possible. Recall, the City has voted to “OPPOSE NISP”, which was great news two years ago, and we are keeping the river’s health front and center in the minds and eyes of the City Council. NISP would further degrade the Poudre River through Fort Collins as well as partially ruin the new $20 million Whitewater Park by removing so much water out of the river. We will do everything we can to protect the river in Fort Collins and get as strong of regulations from the City as possible.

Finally, at that same Fort Collins City Council meeting on Feb. 8th, proponents of NISP stood up and told their tired, false story about how they think NISP would “improve the health of the Poudre River”. This propaganda is ridiculous, and we continue to confront it at every turn. Take a look here on our Facebook page (click here to read it) for our rebuttal to this propaganda. NISP has one single purpose — to drain the river before it reaches Fort Collins and send the Poudre’s precious water out to sprawling towns mostly in Weld County. We will counter the lies and propaganda at every turn.

Thank you for your support!  It’s your support that keeps us in court, keeps us testifying, and keeps us rebutting the propaganda.

You can donate online by clicking here.

Gary Wockner and Mark Easter, Save The Poudre

Poudre River Update: Save The Poudre Will Sue The Army Corps To Stop NISP

Hi Amazing Poudre River Lovers!

We all knew this day would come, and come it has. Last Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent out a press release saying they had signed the Record of Decision and 404 Permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). As we always do, we jumped into action to learn as much as possible and stay on top of the swirl of media. We had quotes in stories in the Denver Post and Colorado Sun over the weekend, and more are coming.

While one phase of the battle to save the Poudre has almost ended, another begins. We will soon have two active lawsuits against NISP: 1) against the former Larimer County Commissioners who gave a permit to NISP. This lawsuit will play out in 2023. And 2) against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for giving a permit to NISP. We will file that lawsuit against the Army Corps in the coming weeks as soon as we are able to read and analyze the permit. This federal permit court fight could take 2 to 3 years in federal district in Denver.

In both lawsuits, we are thrilled to have a Great Legal Team. Further, our attorneys have their minds and pens ready as the briefing schedules play out. We have worked with them for years preparing for this day and for the next year. Further, NISP still needs a 1041 permit from the City of Fort Collins which is a whole different permitting process and arena, and we are 100% engaged in this Fort Collins permit as well which could take another year to play out.

Here’s what we know in our hearts — the Cache la Poudre River is the heart and soul of Fort Collins, and the people of Fort Collins want the river protected and increasingly restored. YOU have given us our marching orders and we intend to march into court to make sure the Poudre River gets its day in court. At the same time, we continue to communicate with anyone who will listen — NISP, Fort Collins, Greeley, Thornton, Larimer County — about finding some sort of solution that meets everyone’s needs, not just the narrow needs of water suppliers. We are working on every level to protect and restore the Poudre, and 2023 will be busier than ever.


You can donate online by clicking here.


Gary Wockner, Mark Easter, and the STP Board/Team

PRESS RELEASE: NISP Record of Decision Issued; Save The Poudre Says, “We’ll See You In Court”

For Immediate Release

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

NISP Record of Decision Issued; Save The Poudre Says, “We’ll See You In Court”

Fort Collins, CO:  Today, after nearly 20 years, the Army Corps of Engineers issued the 404 Permit and Record of Decision for the proposed $2 billion “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP) near Fort Collins, CO. The permit is posted here:

Save The Poudre response:

“We’ve fought this river-destroying project for nearly 20 years, girding for this final battle. Our attorneys’ pens are sharpened and we will sue to stop this project and protect the Poudre River as soon as possible. We’ve given the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (“Northern”) every chance to find a compromise solution, but instead they’ve chosen to compromise the Cache la Poudre River. Northern proposes to spend $2 billion on a project that has one massive environmental impact in Larimer County — further draining and destroying the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins. We are happy to keep a dialogue open with Northern Water as the lawsuit plays out, but for now it’s a court battle they want, and it’s a court battle we will give them.”

Save The Poudre is also in state court against NISP, suing the former Larimer County Commissioners who gave a 1041 permit to NISP. That lawsuit is just beginning its briefing schedule after the beginning of 2023 and will play out in 2023. Federal court battles generally last 2 – 3 years for the first round in federal district court.


Poudre River Update: Thank you for your support on Colorado Gives Day!

Hello Poudre River Lovers! Thank you for your support!

We are pushing hard on every single lever to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River.

First, we WON in court against the City of Thornton, and now we’re making news about it on the Front Page of the Denver Post!

For 12 years, we’ve been telling the City of Thornton they should send their water down the Poudre River, all the way through Fort Collins, before taking it out near Windsor. And for 12 years, Thornton has refused to do so.

Now the media is really starting to take notice. The Denver Post, Colorado Sun, Fort Collins Coloradoan, and other publications are all writing about the debacle Thornton has tangled itself in, and writing about our simple solution to untangle them: RUN THE WATER DOWN THE POUDRE!

Further yet, we’ve now expanded the concept to include the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), the City of Greeley’s proposed storage project, and the City of Fort Collins’ proposed expansion of Halligan Reservoir.

All of these municipalities should use the “river as the conveyance” for their water rather than building massive pipelines that take the water out of the river.

The river is “natural infrastructure,” and using the river as conveyance is a “Nature-Based Solution” to these water supply problems. Further yet, our concept of using Nature-Based Solutions is resonating across the U.S. and the planet. At COP27 recently in Cairo, Egypt, the Asst Secretary for the U.S. State Dept., Monica Medina, spoke about “Nature-Based Solutions” for climate change and environmental problems.

We’ve reached out to all of the stakeholders who are trying to build new projects on the Poudre including Larimer County, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Greeley, the City of Thornton, and Northern Water to begin discussions about using the river as the conveyance for the water.

Further, we are reaching out to our federal elected officials including Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, and Congressman Neguse, to discuss the concept. We’ve also reached out to the Biden Administrations’ U.S. EPA.

If the status quo continues – which includes building multiple dams and pipelines – the river through Fort Collins will be increasingly drained. We believe we owe it to the people of Fort Collins and Larimer County, as well as to the river itself, to try to negotiate a better outcome. Over $2 billion dollars is proposed to be spent by the municipal water agencies to build dams and pipelines designed to get the water out of the Poudre River before it reaches Fort Collins. We’re working to change that trajectory.

While we attempt to negotiate, we’re also keeping our foot on the pedal of law enforcement! Recall that we sued the former Larimer County Commissioners for giving a permit for NISP, and that lawsuit is still playing out in state court in Larimer County. We believe we have a strong case and our legal team is fighting hard to get the best outcome. If the Army Corps gives a permit to NISP, we will also likely sue the Corps.

Finally, we continue to be engaged in the preparation of the City of Fort Collins’ new “1041 regulations” that will apply to NISP. We’ve provided many comments to the Council and the staff, and we are waiting for a final draft that will be on the City Council agenda in early 2023. These regs are very important to protect the Poudre River as well as the Natural Areas all the way through Fort Collins.

PLEASE KNOW – Your past support has made all of the difference in our ability to fight these battles, and your current and future support is what will keep us fighting. We’ve been girding for this legal action for 19 years.

Every $25 or $50 makes a real difference.  If you can afford $100 or $250 or more, that’s great too! All donations are tax deductible

Please donate on our website at:

Thank you for your support!


MEDIA STATEMENT: Save The Poudre Statement on Home Builders Association Letter to Larimer County Commissioners

Hi Colorado Environmental Media,

Yesterday, the “Home Builders Association of Metro Denver” and the “Colorado Association of Home Builders” sent a comment letter to the Larimer County Commissioners about the proposed “Thornton Pipeline”. The Home Builders’ letter, pasted in below and posted here, is uninformed, harasses the Commissioners, and is filled with false information.

Statement by Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Poudre:

  • “The Home Builders are uninformed and spewing false information to the County Commissioners and the public. It is Thornton, not Larimer County, who is refusing collaborate and delaying the delivery of water. We’ve been in contact with Thornton for 14 years about this issue, and it was Thornton who originally planned to send the water down the Cache la Poudre River, not put it in a pipeline. It is Thornton, not Larimer County, who changed its mind and spent more than a decade and millions of dollars trying to get a permit to build a pipeline in Larimer County. It is Thornton, not Larimer County, who filed a lawsuit, spending more millions of dollars, which further delayed the delivery of water and refused to collaborate.
  • In fact, if Thornton simply would’ve collaborated with us and stuck to their original plan and sent the water down the Poudre River — using the River as a conveyance — and then diverted the water in Weld County near Windsor, Thornton would not have even needed a permit in Larimer County and Thornton would’ve had its water 10 years ago.
  • We encourage the Home Builders to get their facts straight and stop harassing elected officials and the public in Larimer County.”

I’m happy to chat with any media on the phone about this.


— 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


Home Builders Association of Metro Denver and Colorado Association of Home Builders Comments Letter – Thornton Water Pipeline Project

Morgan Cullen

to kefa…, kste…, JShadduc…, vol…, fri…, Ted Leighty, t…

Dear Commissioners Kefalas, Stephens and Shadduck-McNally:


I am writing to submit formal comments on the ongoing legal challenges surrounding the Thornton Water Project. These comments are being provided on behalf of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Association of Home Builders.

The HBA of Metro Denver represents over 500 homebuilders, developers, remodelers, architects, mortgage lenders, title companies, subcontractors, suppliers, and service providers in the eight metro-area counties we serve. The Colorado Association of Home Builders has over 2,000 members across the state, representing over 40,000 jobs that play a crucial role in providing housing for Coloradoans.

For many years, Colorado has established itself as one of the best places to live, work and raise a family. Colorado has a proud history of communities working together to tackle tough issues, solve problems and improve the prosperity of all its residents through collective reciprocity and regional collaboration. Be it in politics, business or our shared civic responsibilities, we have always prospered because of that reason – We work together.

However, we have grown concerned that this spirit of regional collaboration and problem solving is being threatened over a critical issue in northern Colorado. By refusing to allow Thornton to access the water it has owned for nearly forty-years, Larimer County is impacting the livelihood and ability for families and individuals to live closer to where they work and inadvertently exacerbating Colorado’s housing attainability crisis along the front range.

The HBA of Metro Denver and the Colorado Association of Home Builders has included the attached letter to this email, outlining our concerns regarding these ongoing delays and the need reconcile the situation in an expedited manner. In the spirit of regional cooperation and housing attainability in Colorado, we respectfully request that Larimer County work in earnest with the City of Thornton to come to an agreement on this issue that has gone on for too long.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our concerns.


Morgan Cullen
Director of Government Affairs

Home Builders Association of Metro Denver


cell:  303-217-6858

9033 E Easter Place | Suite 200 | Centennial CO  80112

National Discounts, Local Member Savings available at


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