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PRESS RELEASE: Poudre River-Killing Dam Project Seeks Half-Billion Dollar Fed Bailout From Infrastructure Act

For Immediate Release
Dec. 4, 2021

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

Poudre River-Killing Dam Project Seeks Half-Billion Dollar Fed Bailout From Infrastructure Act

Fort Collins, CO: Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is potentially inviting the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) to seek a half-billion dollar bailout from money provided in the federal Infrastructure Act (see announcement here). In the announcement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the money would go to projects that would “safeguard public health, especially in underserved and under-resourced communities.”

Addressing those two points, Save The Poudre points out:

First, about public health, NISP would severely impact the health of the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins by draining up to half of its water during the late spring and early summer. This fact has caused the City of Fort Collins — which would bear all the negative impacts of NISP — to vote to oppose NISP on several occasions. About NISP, the City of Fort Collins’ website right now states:

“The loss of springtime flows is likely to: 

  • cause fine sediment to clog riverbed habitat adversely impacting fish and insect health in the river
  • lead to vegetation growing into the river channel, shrinking the size of the river and possibly rising flood levels
  • dry out riverside vegetation and cause a narrowing of the cottonwood forests and wetlands

These potential impacts to river health, may have a cascading impact on recreation opportunities on the river.”

Second, on the “underserved and under-resourced” communities issue, as just two examples of NISP participants’ privilege, right now on Realtor.com, the “median sold home price” in Erie, CO, is $710,000 and in Lafayette, CO, it’s $677,000.

“Apparently, Administrator Regan has never been to northern Colorado,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “NISP is designed to destroy the health of the Cache la Poudre River and send its precious water to some of the fastest-growing, suburban, and most privileged communities in northern Colorado.”

NISP has been in federal, state, and local permitting processes for 18 years. In the past two years, Save The Poudre has filed 3 lawsuits against the project, one of which Save The Poudre won in the State Court of Appeals, and two of which are still pending in State District Court in Larimer County. Save The Poudre is waiting for the final permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and if the Corps green-lights NISP, Save The Poudre is prepared to challenge that decision in court.

When NISP was proposed in 2004, its was estimated to cost $350 million; that price has ballooned to at least $1.1 billion as most recently stated in 2018. Further, NISP has to buy at least 20,000 acres of farms in northern Colorado to obtain the water for the project, a cost that has not yet been publicly revealed.

“NISP is the most controversial, most environmentally damaging, and most expensive project in northern Colorado history,” said Wockner. “The EPA absolutely should not try to bail out this ridiculous river-killing boondoggle.”

This press release is posted here.

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Poudre River Update: Tell the City of Fort Collins to adopt “1041 Regulations” for NISP!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

It’s time to show up and speak out! 

At its Tuesday, Oct. 19th meeting, the City of Fort Collins is proposing to create new regulations — called “1041 regulations” — that would protect the City, the Poudre River, and City Natural Areas from huge destructive development projects like the Northern Integrated Supply Project (“NISP”). Recall, NISP would drain so much water out of the Poudre that the river would resemble a muddy stinking ditch in Fort Collins. Further, the NISP pipeline would eviscerate Fort Collins Natural Areas.

We need you to show up and speak to the Fort Collins City Council at the Tuesday, Oct. 19th meeting. 

If you can’t show up, we encourage you to send an email to the Council, and we created a quick Call2Action on our website that you can click through to send the Council an email, here: https://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/send-action-alert-email/ 

Also, if you can’t show up at City Hall, you can ZOOM into the meeting to speak during the comment period. Directions for ZOOM are here: https://www.fcgov.com/council/ 

Please read the Call2Action for talking points. Also, always feel free to tell the Council your own personal story of why the Poudre River is special to you and needs to be protected.

Thank you for all you do!

Save The Poudre

PRESS RELEASE: Fort Collins Planning Commission “DISAPPROVES” NISP Pipeline

July 1, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Commission “DISAPPROVES” NISP Pipeline

Fort Collins: Last night, after three hours of testimony and deliberation, the Fort Collins Planning & Zoning Commission voted 3 – 2 to “Disapprove” the Northern Integrated Supply Project’s (NISP) Site Plan Advisory Review (SPAR) application.  NISP proposes to build a massive pipeline across city-owned and protected Natural Areas, and divert over 4 billion gallons of water per year out of the Poudre River, both on the eastern side of Fort Collins.

“We’re pleased with the Planning Commission’s vote,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “NISP has no right to march into Fort Collins and cause huge damage to much-loved Natural Areas along the Poudre River that were bought and protected by and for the people of Fort Collins.”

With the Commission’s disapproval now hanging over NISP, the entire project and its convoluted 18-year history is increasingly in limbo. The Commission’s disapproval adds to the City’s formal “opposition” to NISP that was codified by the City Council in a resolution on Aug. 4, 2020.  Further, Save The Poudre has multiple active lawsuits against NISP, including challenging the use of SPAR in the City of Fort Collins. At this point, it’s unclear what the NISP directors will do about the disapproval, and it’s unclear how the courts will rule on Save The Poudre’s lawsuit.

“We will fight to stop NISP as long as it takes,” said Wockner. “The people of Fort Collins have been extremely supportive and generous — they’ve given us their marching orders to protect the Poudre River and we are fighting on every front.”

Save The Poudre put comments into the SPAR process and testified at last night’s hearing.

(This press release is posted here.)

***end***

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Save The Poudre Sues to Stop NISP Damage on Fort Collins Natural Areas

June 10, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Save The Poudre Sues to Stop NISP Damage on Fort Collins Natural Areas

Fort Collins: Yesterday, Save The Poudre filed a lawsuit in state district court in Larimer County against the Northern Integrated Supply Project’s (“NISP”) attempt to use the SPAR (Site Plan Advisory Review) process for placing a diversion structure, pump station, and massive pipeline across City of Fort Collins’ Natural Areas (the lawsuit is posted here).

The City Land Use Code makes perfectly clear that SPAR can only be used if NISP “owns or operates” the City Natural Area property, which NISP does not.  Further, City Manager Darin Atteberry sent a memo to the City Council on April 16, 2020, telling the Council that NISP had to buy the land, negotiate an easement, or condemn the Natural Areas by eminent domain in order to build the project, but NISP has not done any of those things (the memo is posted here).

“We’re proud to stand up and defend the citizen-owned Natural Areas,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “If the whole Hughes Stadium issue taught the City government anything, it’s that the people of Fort Collins want their Natural Areas to be protected, restored, and enhanced, not degraded and diminished.”

The City staff has scheduled a hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission for NISP on June 30th. Save The Poudre in turn filed a “temporary restraining order” with the court against the City to stop the Commission hearing. Save The Poudre alleges that the City is not enforcing its own land use code and is letting NISP skate by with a bogus review process instead of forcing NISP through a rigorous permit application that must require the review of the full City Council.

NISP would drain water out of Natural Areas along the Poudre River throughout Fort Collins, thereby draining wetlands, drying up the riparian forest, and diminishing wildlife habitat. Homestead Natural Area, Kingfisher Natural Area, and Riverbend Ponds Natural Area would be further degraded by the construction of a water diversion structure, pump station, and massive pipeline.

“NISP is a massively damaging project that would degrade and destroy City-owned Natural Areas that were bought and paid for by City ratepayers and taxpayers. The people of Fort Collins love their Natural Areas and we are excited to stand up and defend the citizens and their property against this environmentally destructive project,” said Wockner.

Save The Poudre is joined in the lawsuit with No Pipe Dream Corporation.

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Save The Poudre Update: “Clean The Poudre” Campaign Would Allow More Water in the Poudre

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

It’s your support that keeps us working hard — thank you, and please click here to donate!

Here’s the updates about the Poudre River you need to know.

First, today, Save The Poudre released a short report about “Cleaning the Poudre River so it can be used as a conveyance for water supply”. The report is posted here.

A background summary: Both the Thornton Pipeline and NISP claim they can’t run all of their water rights down the Poudre River through Fort Collins because the water quality in the river is too dirty due to the City’s stormwater runoff. While that may, or may not, be true, there are engineering solutions that can “clean” stormwater before it runs into the Poudre. These solutions are cost-effective, environmentally sound, and proven in other municipalities around the U.S.

We consulted with AbTech Industries (https://www.abtechindustries.com/) to provide some estimates of technologies and costs for cleaning the City’s stormwater before it runs into the Poudre. Our report, as well as AbTech’s website, provide lots of examples and photographs for you to consider.

Long-story short — all water providers can use the Poudre River as a conveyance, which would provide the following benefits:

  • Increase quality-of-life for City and County residents,
  • Preservation of the environment and natural habitat along the Poudre River corridor,
  • Maintaining or increasing flows for recreation including at the new downtown Fort Collins Whitewater Park,
  • Increase water quality and cleanliness in the Poudre River.

Save The Poudre is requesting that the County and City convene a “Working Group” to examine cleaning the Poudre River so it can be used as a conveyance for water supply.

Second, last week the City of Fort Collins informed NISP that their Site Plan Advisory Review (SPAR) application is “not complete”. Specifically, NISP has failed to describe how their proposal will impact flooding along the Poudre River in Fort Collins. We are continuing to closely monitor this application and process. As we’ve noted before, we strongly believe that SPAR is an illegal use for NISP, and that the City should require a full development review of NISP that covers ALL OF THE DAMAGE NISP would cause to Fort Collins’ Natural Areas. The City has so-far refused to change direction, although they are investigating creating “1041 powers” for NISP. At this time, Save The Poudre is still in strong opposition to the City’s approach.

Third, the Thornton Pipeline continues to suffer serious setbacks, which is good! Last week, the Weld County Commissioners voted unanimously to “deny” Thornton’s 1041 application for their pipeline. Where this will all end, we don’t know, but we continue to intervene in the court case against the Thornton Pipeline, and we continue to work to require Thornton to send their water down the Poudre River through Fort Collins.

Thank you for your support. Again you can donate online by clicking here.

Stay tuned for all the action!

Gary Wockner
Director, Save The Poudre

Save The Poudre Action Alert: NISP Needs City of Fort Collins Permit, and Your Voice Matters!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

It’s time for action! The massive proposed Poudre River-destroying Northern Integrated Supply Project needs a permit from the City of Fort Collins, and your voice matters.

NISP is having a “neighborhood meeting” on Zoom on Wednesday, April 21st, at 6:00pm, and all members of Save The Poudre — that’s you! — are “neighbors”. We need you to do two things:

First, stay tuned for the link to sign up for the neighborhood meeting. The City’s website (here) says they will provide a zoom link 48 hours ahead of the meeting so ALL OF YOU can join the meeting. We will send you another email as soon as the link is posted on Monday.

Second, please send an email to the Fort Collins City Council  telling them you are opposed to NISP and you want a full, public “development review” for NISP, not just a “Site Plan Advisory Review” that the City is proposing now. We’ve made a simple link for you to send an email to the City Council (click here).

Thank you for TAKING ACTION, and stay  tuned for more information about you can help stop NISP in the City of Fort Collins.

And of course, thank you for donating to Save The Poudre (you can donate by clicking here). If you can’t show up to the Zoom meeting, your financial support makes sure that we will.

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Poudre

Save The Poudre Update: We’re in the heat of battle — thank you for your support!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

Thank you for your support!! It’s your support that keeps us working hard. Please donate online by clicking here

Good News First! In February, State District Court in Larimer County ruled in support of our fight to stop the Thornton Pipeline. The court ruled that the Larimer County Commissioners were legally justified to deny Thornton’s permit, a denial we intervened to support in the lawsuit. Thornton has now appealed that decision, and we are counting on this new Larimer County Commission to defend itself in the State Court of Appeals.

If Thornton would simply do the right thing – which is run the water down the Poudre River through Fort Collins – they wouldn’t even need a permit at all! Thornton would have saved millions of dollars in court costs, planning, and permitting by simply taking Save The Poudre’s advice TEN YEARS AGO and keeping the water in the Poudre. We will remain vigilant and engaged in this battle – stay tuned for the action!

Second, our ongoing battle to stop the Northern Integrated Supply Project continues to work its way through the court system. We now have two lawsuits against the FORMER Larimer County Commissioners, Steve Johnson and Tom Donnelly, for their illegal decision to support NISP. First we argue that Johnson and Donnelly were biased due to their decades of support for NISP. Second, we argue that Johnson and Donnelly’s decision violated the Larimer County land use code in multiple ways.

NISP would have dramatic negative impacts on the Poudre River, on neighbors around the proposed reservoir, and on neighbors along the pipeline route. We have worked in close coalition with two local neighborhood groups – “Save Rural NoCo” and “No Pipe Dream” – to fight the project and influence the court’s and the County’s decision.

The NISP battle now turns to the City of Fort Collins!

NISP has applied for a “Site Plan Advisory Review” for the project, including for the massive environmentally destructive pipeline through the City’s Natural Areas on the east side of Fort Collins. The City has scheduled a “neighborhood meeting” on April 21st at 6:00pm, and ALL SAVE THE POUDRE MEMBERS are invited as neighbors!

We are encouraging all of you to sign up for this “Zoom” neighborhood meeting – let’s show the City how much we care about the Poudre River and its Natural Areas, and how much we OPPOSE NISP. We’ll keep you posted on how to zoom attend the neighborhood meeting – make sure and sign up for our newsletter on SaveThePoudre.org.

Finally, Save The Poudre is awaiting the final “Record of Decision” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to be released this year. Our legal and scientific team is ready for battle when this permit is released. We have a great attorney lined up to fight this permit if needed, and we are prepared to do everything we can to stop NISP.

In other Big News, we’re excited to have launched a new “Rights of Nature” program for the Poudre River. The “Rights of Nature” concept is accelerating rapidly across the U.S. and the planet. With our sister organization, Save The Colorado, we are engaging here on the Poudre River. We’ve had our first community meeting about the new program, and we are working together with the “Earth Law Center” based in Boulder to create this program. Ultimately, we hope to pass a resolution with the City of Fort Collins giving the Poudre “Rights of Nature” that will create a legal “guardian” body to represent the river in all City decisions and processes. Stay tuned for more about this exciting program!

PLEASE KNOW – Your past support has made all of the difference in our ability to engage in these battles, and your current and future support is what will keep us fighting hard. We’ve been girding for this battle for 18 years.

Every $25 or $50 makes a real difference.  If you can afford $100 or $250 or more, that’s great too! If you’d like to discuss a larger donation, feel free to call Gary Wockner at 970-218-8310. All donations are tax deductible

Please donate on our website by clicking here:
http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/donate/

Thank you for your support!

Mark Easter, Chair of the Board; Gary Wockner, Executive Director

TAKE ACTION: Ask The Larimer County Commissioners to “Reconsider” the Biased, Illegal NISP Permit

Hi Amazing Poudre River Lovers!

It’s time to take ACTION!

The new Larimer County Commissioners have many options for how to handle the biased, illegal NISP permit — and the lawsuits against it — that was issued by the previous Commissioners (Donnelly and Johnson) just weeks before they left office.

We need you to reach out to the new amazing Larimer County Commissioners — John Kefalas, Kristin Stephens, and Jody Shadduck-McNally — and very respectfully and professionally ask them to “RECONSIDER” the biased, illegal permit issued by the former Commissioners. Recall, Commissioner Kefalas — now the “Chair” of this new Commission — voted against the NISP permit.

We’ve made a simple form, with a friendly letter, for you to send them a quick email. Click here: http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/send-action-alert-email/

Let’s do it, team! It’s a new year, a new world in Larimer County, and it’s time to take action!

Thank you!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Poudre

PRESS RELEASE: Save The Poudre Sues Larimer County Over NISP Decision

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2021

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

Save The Poudre Sues Larimer County Over NISP Decision

Fort Collins: Last week, one day before the new Larimer County Commissioners were sworn in, Save The Poudre and co-plaintiffs No Pipe Dream and Save Rural NoCo served Larimer County with a lawsuit alleging that:

  • First, Commissioners Donnelly and Johnson had publicly advocated for NISP for a decade, and thus they were biased and should not have participated in, or voted on, the NISP 1041 permit. That bias violates both the Larimer County land use code and the Colorado Constitution which requires “unbiased” decision-making on 1041 permits.
  • Second, the decision by the two-member majority of the Commission (Donnelly and Johnson) to give NISP a permit violated multiple criteria of the Larimer County land use code.

The lawsuit is posted here.

Larimer County Commissioner John Kefalas, who was appointed to be “Chair” of the Commission the day after Save The Poudre served the lawsuit, voted against the permit. Further, the new Commission – including Kefalas and newly elected Commissioners Kristin Stephens and Jody Shadduck-McNally – will now manage the County’s response to the lawsuit.

“We are suing Larimer County because Donnelly and Johnson should not have participated in, or voted on, the NISP permit, as well as their final illegal ruling to approve the NISP 1041 permit,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre.

Similar to a change of administrations when a new President gets elected, as is occurring right now in the U.S., the new Larimer County Commission has many options for how it can handle the illegal actions and decisions of the previous Commissioners as well as lawsuits against the County.

“We call on this new Larimer County Commission to reconsider the illegal actions and decisions of the previous Commission,” continued Wockner. “NISP would be the biggest and most environmentally damaging project in Larimer County history, and throughout the County permitting process over 90% of public comments opposed NISP.”

This press release is posted here.

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Save The Poudre Update: We Are Taking Action — the Poudre River Needs Your Support!

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 final “Record of Decision” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to be released any day now. Our legal and scientific team is ready for battle when this permit is released. We have a great attorney lined up to fight this permit if needed, and we are prepared to do everything we can to stop NISP.

Here’s the bottom line – THIS IS IT! Your past support has made all of the difference in our ability to engage in these battles, and your current and future support is what will keep us fighting hard. We’ve been girding for this battle for 18 years. We intend to run through the tape in a full sprint to keep the Poudre River healthy and flowing.

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:
http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/donate/

Thank you for your support!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Poudre

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