NISP finds community support

By Staff
Posted 8/3/10

Sign up for news updates ERIE — Armed with a clever, new retort to familiar pleas of “Save the Poudre,” proponents of the Northern Integrated Supply Project rallied support for the …

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NISP finds community support


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ERIE — Armed with a clever, new retort to familiar pleas of “Save the Poudre,” proponents of the Northern Integrated Supply Project rallied support for the divisive regional reservoir project Thursday in a Weld County barn.

    NISP, coordinated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, would build the 170,000-acre-foot Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins. Proponents say it would provide participating communities and water districts with 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water. But critics contend the reservoir would rarely be full, carry a huge debt load, dry up farmland for more urban growth and cause irreversible environmental damage to the watershed.

    The second-annual rally at Anderson Farms in Erie, emceed by Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher and former state Ag Commissioner Don Ament, was billed as an opportunity for farmers to voice their support for the project. But a lengthy line of state legislators and representatives, as well as county and municipal officials, took to the podium atop a wooden farm trailer to tout the benefits of the project.

    “I’m proud to stand before you and support NISP,” said State Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton).

    Hodge said she is concerned about the continued disappearance of rural agriculture due to what she called “buy and dry” practices and the area’s dwindling water supply.

    “The West Slope seems to think they don’t need to send us any more water, so we need to effectively use what we have,” Hodge said. “This project takes us in that direction. It’s our water. We’re saving it for a not-so-rainy day.”

    Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) said he wanted to direct his message to those not on hand for the rally.

    “Do you really think that, if the roadblocks that held up this project would have been in existence 80 years ago, would the Big Thompson Project ever been finished?” Brophy said. “We’re living off the hard work and foresight of our forefathers. We’re taking it for granted. We’re forgetting what the drought looked like in 2002 and what the next one is going to be like. There are more people living here now than there were then, and we have less (water) storage capacity than we had then and a lot less than we need.”

    Frederick Mayor Eric Doering also addressed the crowd. Frederick has publicly put its support behind NISP.  He pointed out that continued growth, particularly commercial business growth, in Southwest Weld County is dependent on a reliable source of water.

    “(Businesses) are coming here because there’s quality employment opportunities for people,” Doering said. “We need water to help those people live in our communities. This storage project is absolutely essential for the growth of this region for years to come.”

    He added there is a balance between growing municipalities and the existing agricultural community.

    “It is not one or the other,” Doering said. “Those agricultural needs continue to need to be met. They can’t be met without the kind of project that this fits. It’s not only farmers for this, it’s municipalities for this, to protect the agricultural interests of this state, especially this region as we move forward.”

    Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, a southwest Weld resident, pushed the new battle cry for NISP proponents with the help of fellow commissioners, David Long, Bill Garcia and Sean Conway. All held up newly minted “Save the Poudre Put it in Glade” bumper stickers. Kirkmeyer capitalized on the pep-rally theme of the event and exhorted audience members to repeat the latter half of the slogan.

    “(Weld Commissioners) get it, people in Northern Colorado get it,” Kirkmeyer said of the project. “It’s the people that aren’t here that you need to get out and start talking to, to make sure they get it.”

    The latest figures for the cost of NISP hover around $490 million, a 15-percent increase since 2006 due to inflation. Those costs would be shared among participant municipalities and water districts.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project. The additional study was deemed necessary after a draft EIS last year raised additional questions about the feasibility of the project. A final decision on the future of NISP could come as early as 2012.


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