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PRESS RELEASE: Save The Poudre Promotes “NATURE-BASED SOLUTION” To End Poudre River Dam Fights

October 4, 2022
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Save The Poudre Promotes “NATURE-BASED SOLUTION” To End Poudre River Dam Fights

Fort Collins: After nearly 20 years of intense battle that has paralyzed water supply planning in Northern Colorado, Save The Poudre has adopted a new United Nations-based model that could both restore the Cache la Poudre River and allow city agencies to meet their water needs.

Called “Nature-Based Solutions”, the model will be a central feature of next week’s United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (see conference details here). In addition, a new public opinion poll paid for by the Walton Family Foundation indicates that the American public has a strong preference for Nature-Based Solutions to solve environmental problems (see their poll here).

“We are excited to turn the page towards Nature and collaboration in this two-decade long battle to save the Poudre,” said Gary Wockner, director of Save The Poudre. “This United Nations approach that supports working with Nature instead of against it gives everyone involved a path forward.”

Save The Poudre’s plan is to reach out to city water agencies and federal decisionmakers to investigate using federal infrastructure money to use the Poudre River as the conveyance for water (see more details here about using the river as conveyance). To achieve that goal, water treatment plants would need to be built downstream on the Poudre River — likely in Windsor and Greeley —  so that agencies can run water all the way down the Poudre River through Fort Collins before diverting it out for municipal use. Regardless of where water is stored, and regardless of whether the water is stored in above-ground reservoirs or underground aquifers, in the United Nations model all of the water would return to the river and flow downstream to the water treatment plants.

“Using the Poudre River as the conveyance of water is an example of using ‘natural infrastructure’ that restores the river, increases the biological diversity of the river corridor and watershed, makes the river cleaner and healthier for humans and wildlife, helps address climate threats, and creates immense recreational opportunities for boaters and the public from the mouth of Poudre Canyon all the way to Greeley,” said Gary Wockner. “The Walton Family poll revealed that 76% of the American public prefers Nature-Based Solutions that use natural infrastructure.”

The battle on the Poudre began over 20 years ago when Northern Water, the City of Greeley, the City of Fort Collins, and the City of Thornton all proposed new dams, diversions, and pipelines to further drain the Poudre River before it reached Fort Collins. Altogether, the cities’ approach would be a final death blow to the Poudre River, further draining it and turning the river into a muddy, stinking ditch through Fort Collins. Save The Poudre has fought the cities’ plans every step of the way. The Nature-Based Solution approach would allow almost all of the municipal water to flow downstream in the Poudre River through Fort Collins before the water is diverted out in either Windsor or Greeley at water treatment plants and then placed into the cities’ water supply infrastructure.

Save The Poudre is currently in court against Northern Water’s proposed massive dam project called the “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP), and is in court against the City of Thornton’s proposed massive water pipeline project. Save The Poudre will continue and escalate these court battles, and foresees more court battles against NISP, the City of Greeley, and potentially the City of Fort Collins. At the same time, Save The Poudre encourages these cities to change direction and support Nature-Based Solutions and collaboration.

“We’re now reaching out to Northern Water and the cities of Greeley, Fort Collins, and Thornton with our plan to support collaborative Nature-Based Solutions that use the Poudre River as the natural infrastructure for conveyance of water,” said Wockner. “Our next steps will reach out to federal decisionmakers about using federal infrastructure money that will create a United Nations-based approach here in Northern Colorado that sets up the region as a leader of environmental conflict management.”

Save The Poudre will soon make a video to describe and explain the new Nature-Based Solution plan.

This press release is posted here.

***end***

Colorado Rivers Press Release: Thornton Water Pipeline DENIED by Colorado State Court of Appeals

9/1/2022

For Immediate Release

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

Colorado Rivers Press Release: Thornton Water Pipeline DENIED by Colorado State Court of Appeals

Fort Collins: Today, the Colorado State Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court’s ruling that denied the City of Thornton the right to build a water pipeline across northern Larimer County north of Fort Collins.

The ruling is posted here.

For several years, Thornton has tried to build a water pipeline across northern Larimer County to transfer water from over 20,000 acres of farms down to the City of Thornton. In 2018, the Larimer County Commissioners denied a permit for the pipeline, and Thornton sued the County. Save The Poudre, which has about 1,000 members in Larimer County, and another neighborhood group, No Pipe Dream, both intervened in the case to support Larimer County which was sued by Thornton. The pipeline proposes to transfer over 14,000 acre feet of water from farms down to Thornton.

Pipeline opponents, Save The Poudre and No Pipe Dream, argued that Thornton should run the water down the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins until it reached the Town of Windsor and then divert the water into a pipeline, thus restoring flows to a critically endangered 12-mile section the Poudre River.

“We’ve told Thornton for over 10 years that the water should flow down the Poudre River through Fort Collins,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre. “This is potentially a win-win project, but Thornton refuses to use the River as a conveyance and continues to waste everyone’s time and money in court.”

Thornton must now decide if it will appeal the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, or propose a new pipeline route in Larimer County, or simply let the water flow down the Poudre River to Windsor which is an outcome that doesn’t even require any kind of permit in Larimer County.

“Once again, we offer to collaborate with Thornton rather than litigate,” said Wockner. “By working together, we can restore the Poudre River and Thornton can get the water.”

Save The Poudre’s mission is to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River of northern Colorado.

This press release is posted here.

***end***

Poudre River Update:

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, NISP DOES NOT HAVE A PERMIT TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION!

Many of you have reached out to see what’s going on with the apparent construction in the valley where Glade Reservoir might be built. Please know that we are paying close attention and consulting with our legal team constantly.

The digging at the proposed site for Glade Reservoir is deemed by the Army Corps of Engineers to be “pre-construction” and “test hole drilling” that does not require a permit from the Corps. NISP is doing this work on land that NISP owns, and while it is very concerning to everyone, including all the neighbors, we talked at length with our legal team and there’s no way we can stop it.

Northern Water, which is building the Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Loveland right now, did similar pre-construction work at that site. After we filed the lawsuit against Northern and the Corps’ after the permit came out, all of the construction at Chimney Hollow stopped.

We are very vigilant about everything that’s going on at the Glade site, and we are in constant communication with our legal team. We are nearly 100% likely to file a lawsuit against the Corps and Northern when the NISP permit is released. We expect the Corps to release the permit any day, and our legal team is poised with pens ready to fight and file.

Second, 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.

So far, the judge has not acted on any motions, and hasn’t issued any kind of rulings. It could take a year or more for this lawsuit to play out.

Third, our intervention in the lawsuit to stop the proposed Thornton Pipeline recently had a hearing in front of the state court of appeals in Denver. We are expecting a ruling in the coming weeks or months. Recall, the Larimer County Commissioners denied a permit to Thornton, then Thornton sued the County. Thornton lost in state district court and has now appealed to the state court of appeals.

Fourth, 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 October or November. 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 engage in these battles, and your current and future support is what will keep us fighting hard. 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:
http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/donate/

Thank you for your support!

Mark Easter and Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre

Poudre River Update: It’s 2022 and the Fight to Save The Poudre Ramps Up!

Hi Amazing Poudre River Lovers!

This is the 19th year — NINETEEN! — of our fight to save the Poudre River, to keep its healthy water flowing through Fort Collins, to keep the beautiful riparian corridor alive and green, and to support the amazing recreational and holistic lifestyle the Poudre River brings to our community. Here’s a summary update of where it all stands:

First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has responded to our requests and has set up a meeting next week where we can air our grievances against their idea of loaning a half-billion dollars to help build NISP. In that meeting we will find out about how all of you can also reach out to the EPA — so stay tuned on that. We have found out that NISP falsified information in the application to the EPA which may be grounds for a lawsuit — so stay tuned on that!

Second, our lawsuit against the former Larimer County Commissioners continues to move forward. We are optimistic that the state district court will rule in our favor and overturn the permit the Commissioners gave to NISP.

Third, our lawsuit against NISP for claiming they had “vested property rights” on City of Fort Collins Natural Areas prevailed — we won! NISP has now agreed with the City that NISP DOES NOT own City Natural Areas and can’t automatically build NISP pipelines without approval from the Fort Collins City Council.

Fourth, our legal intervention against the Thornton Pipeline continues to successfully move forward and we are optimistic we will prevail against  Thornton.

Fifth, we’ve put extensive comments into Larimer County’s proposed revision of its 1041 regulations. The County will be finalizing those regs at the end of January.

Sixth, we’ve been invited to help the City of Fort Collins create its new 1041 regulations over the next few months. We’re excited to help the City create strong regs that protect the Poudre River and the amazing beautiful Natural Areas throughout Fort Collins.

Finally, our attorneys are actively developing our legal fight against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be ready if/when the Corps grants a permit to NISP, which could happen any day.

As we race into this 19th year of saving the Poudre, we are doing EVERYTHING that realistically can be done to Stop NISP, Stop the Thornton Pipeline, and Save The Poudre.

We GREATLY appreciate your support which keeps our nose to the grindstone working hard!

You can donate online by clicking here.

Stay tuned for all the action!!

Gary Wockner
Director, Save The Poudre

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.

***

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.

***end***

 

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

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