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Save The Poudre Describes “Poudre River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund”

June 10, 2024

Poudre River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund 

The Cache la Poudre River downstream of Gateway Park in Larimer County is severely degraded and multiple new dam, diversion, and pipeline projects would further degrade it. The current flow regime – peak flows, base flows, and ongoing average flows – is already severely compromised. If all of the dam/diversion projects are built, the degradation will be further compounded. To enhance the ecological and recreational value and uses of the river, and to help address the problems with peak and base flows, a “Poudre River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund” must be established to fund the following types of projects:

  • Establish a “National Water Trail” from Gateway Park to the confluence with the South Platte.
  • Rebuild all diversion structures so that fish can swim upstream and boats can pass downstream.
  • Move diversion points downstream wherever possible so that water can flow farther downstream but still be gravity-fed to established ditches.
  • Develop strategies for water sharing arrangements – including exchanges and trades – between agricultural and municipal users to enhance recreational and environmental uses.
  • Develop a streamflow monitoring system that engages with cities and ditch companies – and the ditch rider – to make sure the river always has a “base flow” adequate for aquatic health, and eliminates dry-ups.
  • Clean the Poudre River – including city stormwater outfalls and agricultural ditch return flows – to allow the river to be used as a conveyance for municipal water and to improve the water quality.
  • Construct “channel enhancement” to narrow the river so that streamflow is deeper and cooler for better health of aquatic life and boating recreation.
  • Re-connect the river to its floodplain to increase the health of the riparian corridor.
  • Improve water quality and natural storage in degraded headwater areas, using nature-based ecological restoration processes.
  • Construct irrigation ditch “pump-up” systems that let water run farther downstream to be pumped back up to the same ditch.
  • Acquire and develop additional water supplies to increase flows in the Cache la Poudre River.

We estimate that between $100 million and $200 million is needed to fully establish an ecological healthy and recreationally functional Poudre River and a National Water Trail.

(This Fund description is a work in progress as of 6/10/2024 and may be changed.)

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