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PRESS RELEASE: Save The Poudre Will Sue To Stop The Thornton Pipeline

For Immediate Release
June 18, 2024
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Save The Poudre Will Sue To Stop The Thornton Pipeline

Fort Collins, CO: Today, Save The Poudre notifies Larimer County and the City of Thornton that Save The Poudre will file a lawsuit to stop the Thornton Pipeline. At its administrative matters meeting this morning, June 18th, the Larimer County Commissioners will vote to finalize the 1041 permit with a “Findings and Resolution” (posted here, pages 202 – 249). (The item is on the consent agenda.)

Save The Poudre’s legal comments (posted here) argue convincingly that the County Commissioners should have required that Thornton send the water down the Poudre River in Fort Collins instead of putting it in a pipeline. By not doing so, the Commissioners have violated multiple sections of the County’s land use code, as described in Save The Poudre’s comments.

“It’s insane to divert the water out of the Poudre and put that water in a pipeline that crosses the river 12 miles downstream,” said Gary Wockner who directs Save The Poudre. “Using the river as the conveyance would increase the health of the river in Fort Collins, the riparian corridor along the river, and the recreational opportunity at the new Whitewater Park in downtown.”

Further, as Save The Poudre points out in its legal comment letter, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) actually changed state law to specifically allow using the Fort Collins Poudre River corridor as the conveyance for about 13,500 acre feet of its water, while the Larimer County Commissioners failed to require Thornton to do the exact same thing for almost the exact same amount of Thornton’s water (14,000 acre feet).

“If NISP can do it voluntarily, Thornton must do it too,” said Wockner. “The legal and policy precedent set by NISP must be applied to Thornton, and we will seek court intervention to enforce it.”

During the 10-year battle over the Thornton pipeline, and throughout the recent hearings in Larimer County, nearly every single public comment from people of Larimer County — over a thousand in the 10-year process, and at least a hundred in the recent hearings — supported using the river as the conveyance for water.

“This decision not only violates the land use code, it violates the will of the people,” said Wockner. “Save The Poudre will stand up for the people of Larimer County and seek a better outcome for the Poudre River and the community.”

Save The Poudre is also in two lawsuits against the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) — in the state court of appeals and in federal district court, both in Denver — in part arguing that NISP should use the river as conveyance for all 40,000 acre feet of its water. The NISP battle has been playing out for 20 years, and may continue for several more. NISP also needs a 1041 permit to run a pipeline across City of Fort Collins Natural Areas, a permit process that hasn’t begun yet.

Save The Poudre is also waiting for the Army Corps Record of Decision to be released for the City of Fort Collins’ proposed large new dam on the North Fork of the Poudre River (“Halligan”), a project that would also drain more water out of the mainsteam of the Poudre northwest of Fort Collins. In addition, Save The Poudre is keeping a close eye on the City of Greeley’s plans to divert more water out of the mainstem of the Poudre.

“We’ve met with, and communicated with, all of these water providers over the last few years trying to reach a collaborative solution,” said Wockner. “Because they refuse to collaborate, litigation is our only choice and we have absolutely nothing to lose.”

Although it is not part of the current and potential lawsuits, Save The Poudre recently described a “Poudre River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund” that would help address the impacts caused by the four proposed dam/diversion/pipeline projects. Save The Poudre estimates that the Fund would need between $100 million and $200 million to be potentially effective.

This press release is posted here.


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