Skip to content

PRESS RELEASE: Will Colorado’s Cratering Economy Impact Ponzi Growth-Scheme Dam Project Financing?

April 13, 2020

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

Will Colorado’s Cratering Economy Impact Ponzi Growth-Scheme Dam Project Financing?

Fort Collins: Last week, due to the cratering of Colorado’s economy by the coronavirus lockdown, the City of Broomfield, Colorado, announced that it was “furloughing” about 25% of its City workforce (see Broomfield Enterprise story here). At the exact same time, Broomfield is on the financial hook for a massively expensive proposed dam project that would further drain the Colorado River called the “Windy Gap Firming Project”.

The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to drain a new 9 billion gallons of water every year out of the Upper Colorado River, and pipe that water to rapidly growing suburbs north of Denver, with Broomfield being the biggest participant in the project. Broomfield’s share is 29.4%, wanting 26,464 acre feet of the proposed 90,000 acre feet of water storage in the project (see participants’ shares here).

Recently, the Longmont Observer (see story here, Longmont is also a participant in the project) reported that the Windy Gap Firming Project applicant, Northern Water, announced that the total cost of the project has now soared to $575 million, which would bring Broomfield’s share to $169.05 million. Many of the project participants intend to issue debt, via revenue bonds, that would be paid back by future growth and ever-rising water rates on residents.

“The debt financing for this and other dam projects in Colorado is all based on a ponzi scheme of growth,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “With the cratering of the economy, and a likely recession with stalled growth, all of these projects may face huge financial headwinds as well as continued legal challenges.”

The Windy Gap Firming Project is currently being litigated and still pending in federal district court in Denver. Back in October of 2017, six conservation organizations, led by Save The Colorado, filed a lawsuit against the agencies that gave the project permits — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. One of the claims in the lawsuit is that the cost of water conservation and alternatives to the dam project were not adequately considered in the federal Environmental Impact Statement process.

“Water conservation, reuse, and recycling is cheaper, easier, and faster than any new dam project,” said Wockner. “And, those alternatives require little or no debt financing, aren’t subject to boom-and-bust ponzi growth-schemes, and don’t get challenged in court by environmentalists because they don’t drain and destroy rivers.”

Other dam projects in Colorado may be at even more risk. The proposed “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP), which would further dam and destroy the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins, is even more expensive — estimated to be at least $1.2 billion — and would serve small towns mostly in Weld County which has experienced a complete economic meltdown because of the crashing of oil prices. Weld County is the most heavily drilled and fracked county in Colorado with over 20,000 active oil and gas wells. Unlike the City of Broomfield, NISP participant towns are all small, nearly completely dependent on debt financing and growth schemes to pay off the debt.

This press release is posted here.


PRESS RELEASE: Larimer County Unleashes 42-Day Permitting Process For Massive Proposed Dam Amidst Pandemic

For Immediate Release
March 24,2020
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

PRESS RELEASE: Larimer County Unleashes 42-Day Permitting Process For Massive Proposed Dam Amidst Pandemic

Fort Collins: Today, the Larimer County Commissioners created a 42-day permitting process for the biggest, most environmentally destructive, most controversial project in Larimer County history, all amidst the global coronavirus pandemic that has paralyzed Colorado’s government and economy. The first public hearing is set for May 6th.

The permitting documents made publicly available today include 62 highly technical documents totaling 911 pages (see County webpage here), which is the culmination of a 17-year process to create a permit for the proposed “Northern Integrated Supply Project” (NISP), a massive proposed dam and pipeline project that would further drain and destroy the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins.

NISP proposes a massive dam and reservoir near homes that adamantly oppose it, a highway relocation near neighbors that oppose it, and two huge pipelines, one of which would go through neighborhoods that vehemently oppose it.

In fact, just last year, hundreds of neighbors and Fort Collins citizens turned out for multiple public hearings against the Thornton Pipeline which would have gone along the exact same route proposed by NISP (Above: a photo of public participants at one of the hearings). The Larimer County Commissioners unanimously denied the Thornton Pipeline and the project is now in court.

The permitting process for NISP — called a “1041 permit” — is proposed exactly when Governor Polis has ordered statewide “social distancing” and the closure of businesses, and when — just yesterday — the Larimer County Dept of Public Health said it was considering a county-wide “shelter-in-home” order (see Coloradoan story today here).

“The Larimer County Commissioners must indefinitely suspend this 1041 permitting process for NISP until the pandemic passes and the public engagement process can be normalized,” said Gary Wockner, director of Save The Poudre. “The public participation window of 42 days is insanely short for this massive technical project, and creating this public process for this extremely controversial project during the coronavirus pandemic violates all standards of government ethics and transparency, and likely violates Larimer County landuse regulations requiring public participation.”



Save The Poudre Update: The Action Has Begun — NISP is a Half-Baked Boondoggle!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

2020 is the year that it all comes to a head, and Save The Poudre is in the fight!

First, last week the State of Colorado gave a “401 Water Quality Certification” (401 Cert) to the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). We have unleashed our scientists and attorneys on the documents and are preparing for legal battle. The 401 Cert for NISP is one of the worst we’ve ever seen, with almost no actual safeguards or conditions that ensure the protection of the river’s health. We have now asked the State Water Quality Control Commission for a time extension to review it — they initially gave us only 30 days — because the documents are over 1,000 pages of technical and legal details that our team is digging through. This permitting fight will be a legal and scientific battle that is not open to the public, but it is YOUR SUPPORT that has given us the financial ability to hire attorneys and scientists. We are digging in for the fight.

Second, Larimer County will soon start its permitting process for NISP. As of this writing, NISP has not yet submitted their application to the County, but it is expected in the next few weeks. As soon as the application is submitted, we will dig into that document — also likely to be 1,000 pages — and engage in that permitting process. This permitting process WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. We will be getting back in contact with you to let you know when you can submit comments to the County Planning Commission as well as atttend hearings of the Larimer County Commissioners.

Finally, NISP continues to be a “Half-Baked Boondoggle”. In 2019, NISP was unable to reach an agreement with farmers to secure more than half the water for the project, and so now NISP has started buying farms in Weld County to get the water from those farms. That farm-buying process is not working out — so far, NISP has only been able to buy three farms, totaling ~160 acres (and ~160 acre-feet of water). NISP needs to buy 22,000 acre-feet of water, which will require them to buy several hundred farms. Not only will NISP further drain and destroy the Poudre River through Fort Collins, it now proposes to be the biggest farm-buying scheme in the history of northern Colorado. Already proposed to cost $1.1 billion, NISP’s farm-buying scheme — if it is successful, which is highly speculative — will drive the cost nearer to $1.5 billion!

It’s patently ridiculous — and we believe, illegal — that the State of Colorado, as well as Larimer County, are both considering permits for a project that doesn’t even have the water rights to allow it to operate. Rest assured, we will be communicating with the State and the County about this ridiculous half-baked process.

Our mission is to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River! We’ve been at it for 17 years, and it’s your support that keeps us in the fight.

Please consider donating to keep us working hard through the next months of this battle. You can donate online by clicking here:

Thank you, and stay tuned for more action!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Poudre



Save The Poudre: Patagonia Matching Grant, $10,000!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

We have good news. Our wonderful partners at Patagonia, the outdoor gear/apparel company, will match your donation to Save The Poudre, up to $10,000, starting today through the end of 2019.

The donation link is here:

Patagonia will securely process your donation and then transfer the money to Save The Poudre.

We are especially excited to partner with Patagonia in this matching grant campaign because they are one of the leading voices on the planet for fighting dams and protecting rivers. Patagonia is also one of our leading funders!

What did Save The Poudre accomplish in 2019?

  1. Helped stop the Thornton Pipeline dead in its tracks!
  2. Intervened in state district court against the City of Thornton to defend the Larimer County Commissioners against Thornton’s lawsuit.
  3. Saw through the construction of the amazing Poudre River Whitewater Park, a project that we initiated back in 2010!
  4. Filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Colorado to stop the proposed Windy Gap Water Project in Colorado.
  5. Intervened with the Larimer County permitting process against the Northern Integrated Supply Project (“NISP”), the massive proposed dam project we’ve been fighting for 17 years.
  6. Intervened with the State of Colorado permitting project against NISP.
  7. Filed more comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers against NISP.
  8. Kept the Poudre River’s voice alive to the public, in the media, and throughout the northern Colorado region.
  9. And more!

When you donate to Save The Poudre, we get right to work! Patagonia Action Works is a wonderful partner putting your money into action.

Please donate here through Patagonia Action Works and help us protect this amazing river!

The donation link is here:

Thank you for your support!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Poudre. 

PRESS RELEASE: Judge Allows Save The Poudre To Intervene Against Thornton Pipeline

July 14, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

Judge Allows Save The Poudre To Intervene Against Thornton Pipeline

Poudre River, Colorado: Today, State District Court Judge, JUAN G. VILLASEÑOR, issued an order allowing for Save The Poudre to “intervene” in the lawsuit the City of Thornton is waging against Larimer County about the proposed Thornton Pipeline (the order is posted here). Thornton opposed Save The Poudre’s intervention and formally motioned the court against it. The neighborhood group, “No Pipedream”, was also allowed to intervene in the same order.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and, to the best of our ability, we will defend the Larimer County Commissioners’ decision to stop the Thornton Pipeline and send the water down the Poudre River through Fort Collins,” said Gary Wockner, director of Save The Poudre. “The Poudre River is already degraded by dams, diversions, and pipelines — adding this water to the river will increase the river’s health and make the river cleaner for all Larimer County residents to enjoy.”

The court case is expected to play out of the next 6 – 12 months as attorneys for Larimer County, Save The Poudre, and No Pipedream will all now defend the decision by the Larimer County Commissioners. Thornton has fought a bitter, expensive, and so-far losing battle to build their pipeline while other alternatives exist including the “Poudre River Option” which was discussed at length during the year-long permitting battle that Thornton lost.

“We should all be collaborating about how Thornton can get water and how we can restore the Poudre River, rather than fighting in court,” said Wockner. “Thornton is wasting millions of dollars of its citizens’ money, continuing to anger Larimer County residents, and wasting everyone’s time.”


PRESS RELEASE: Save The Poudre Tries To Defend Larimer County Against the City of Thornton

For Immediate Release
June 20, 2019
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310


Poudre River: This week, Save The Poudre filed a “motion to intervene” (posted here) to defend Larimer County against the lawsuit filed by the City of Thornton. The lawsuit tries to overturn a unanimous decision by the Larimer County Commissioners to “deny” the Thornton Pipeline from diverting Poudre River water upstream of Fort Collins and piping it across the county and down to Thornton.

Save The Poudre believes the organization has a strong right to intervene and is optimistic the court will allow intervention:

  • Save The Poudre literally started this issue 10 years ago by reaching out to Thornton.
  • Save The Poudre kept in touch with Thornton over the years.
  • Save The Poudre originally brought the “Poudre River Option” to the attention of the Douglas Road neighbors (a coalition now called “No Pipedream”).
  • Save The Poudre participated in all of the Larimer County hearings and Working Group processes, arguing for the Poudre River Option.
  • Thornton discussed the Poudre River Option at length during the County hearings, and also offered the County to put a small part of its water rights back in the Poudre.
  • The issue is solely about Poudre River water and whether to run some or all of the Thornton water rights down the Poudre.

“Our organization and our members have a right to be in this case because this case directly impacts our mission to ‘protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River of northern Colorado,’ said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Poudre.

The City of Thornton has initially “opposed” Save The Poudre’s intervention, but the judge has now given Thornton 30 days to formally respond to Save The Poudre’s full motion.

“It’s completely ridiculous that Thornton opposes our intervention,” said Wockner. “We have every right to defend Larimer County, represent the Poudre River, and represent our members in this lawsuit.”


Take Action: Send an email to the Fort Collins City Council about their Poudre River LEGACY.

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

This Fort Collins City Council will make “legacy” decisions about the future of the Poudre River.

They can stand up and be statewide leaders in water conservation and river protection! Please send them an email by clicking here — ask them to protect and restore the Poudre River for future generations:

Thank you for taking action!

The Save The Poudre Team

Save The Poudre, March Newsletter — Take A Look!

Hello Poudre River Lovers!

We Are Deep Into The Fight And Need Your Support! Please make your tax-deductible donation today by clicking here. 

First, we had a HUGE VICTORY against the Thornton Pipeline! In February, the Larimer County Commissioners voted unanimously to “deny” the Thornton Pipeline, in part thanks to your support! You sent the Commissioners about 1,000 emails and many of you showed up to provide comment during the six public hearings over the last year. We also participated in the “Larimer Water Projects Working Group” for several months, all the while arguing that Thornton should send their water down the Poudre River!
What’s next for the Thornton Pipeline and the “Poudre River Option”? It’s up to Thornton – they’ve publicly stated that they might file a lawsuit against the Larimer County Commissioners, and if they do, we will stand behind the Commissioners’ decision and support them in court. If you see the Commissioners, please THANK THEM for standing up for the Poudre River throughout the permitting process.

Second, the permitting process for Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) is all coming to a head at the County, State, and Federal Level in the next few months:

1. NISP has applied for a permit from the State of Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment for a “401 water quality certification”. Their application is 1,247 pages of extremely technical analyses that we have to digest and respond to in 60 days! We have a team of scientists and attorneys digging into the application. Your support is what makes the difference in our ability to hire professional experts to respond to this permit.

2. NISP is in the process of developing a “1041 permit” and “Intergovernmental Agreement” application to the Larimer County Commissioners to build Glade Reservoir, move Highway 287, and build two large pipelines north and east of Fort Collins. As soon as the drafts of these permits are public, in the next month or two, our team will dig into them – again, we expect them to be hundreds of pages of technical information. Your support is what makes the difference in our ability to hire professional experts to respond to this permit.

3. Last week, our attorneys sent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a legal letter demanding that the Corps prepare a “Supplemental Environmental Impact Analysis” for NISP. This demand is a response to the new revelation that NISP now expects to buy over 100 farms in Larimer and Weld County to obtain 25,000 acre feet of water to make NISP and Glade Reservoir feasible. This farm-buying scheme is a dramatic new twist in the now 16-year NISP debacle that changes everything about how the project would work and what its impact would be on northern Colorado. Again, your support is what makes the difference in our ability to hire professional experts to respond to this permit.   

For 16 years, Save The Poudre has been the voice for the Poudre River, and YOU are the megaphone that keeps that voice alive

Please donate on our website by clicking here:

Thank you for your support!
The Save The Poudre Team

Read more

PRESS RELEASE: Dam To Nowhere? Massive Northern Colorado Dam Project Must Now Buy “100 Or More Farms”

For Immediate Release
March 6, 2019

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

Dam To Nowhere? Massive Northern Colorado Dam Project Must Now Buy “100 Or More Farms”

Fort Collins, CO: Last week, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) revealed that they would have to buy “100 or more farms” containing 25,000 acre feet of water to supply the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and its huge proposed Glade Reservoir.

Read more

Take Action: Say “NO” to the Thornton Pipeline, and “YES” to the Poudre River!

Hi Amazing Poudre River Lovers!

We have a once-in-100 years opportunity to help restore the Poudre River, and your voice can help do that — don’t miss out!!

On January 28th, the Larimer County Commissioners will be making a decision on the Thornton Pipeline. Save The Poudre and many homeowners north of Fort Collins have been working with Larimer County for over a year to support the County Commissioners in saying “NO” to the Thornton Pipeline and “YES” to the Poudre River.

Thornton can send their water down the Poudre River and remove that water from the river near Windsor, instead of putting the water in a massively damaging pipeline across northern Larimer County. This is a “win-win” for Thornton, Larimer County, and the Poudre River.

We need you to click through here to send an email to the Larimer County Commissioners.

Please click through today!

Please check out our new video about the Thornton Pipeline here!

Thank you for Taking Action to Restore the Poudre River!

Back To Top