Photo: Morgan Spiehs/The Coloradoan
Nick Coltrain, Fort Collins Coloradoan
The Fort Collins City Council won’t be supporting the dual reservoir project that would take water from the Poudre River.
The council expressed ongoing concerns with how detrimental the Northern Integrated Supply Project may be to the river that runs through the city. Council could change its mind, pending an update to the project’s mitigation plan.
City staff noted that the river has been subjected to mankind’s whims for decades but took umbrage at the idea that the river is still in decline. The city characterized that as a key assumption made by Northern Water, which hopes to build the Glade and Galeton reservoirs as part of the massive water delivery project.
“We do not think the future of the river is a foregone conclusion,” city Watershed Planner Jennifer Shanahan said. “The (Final Environmental Impact Statement) broadly implies this notion of inevitable decline in the future of the river … We cannot simplify the future of the river in that way.”
The City Council voted unanimously to send its comments of nonsupport to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A final record of decision on the project is anticipated later this year. The city doesn’t have a formal role in the permitting process, but it is considered a key stakeholder because the river flows through city limits.
Worries expressed Tuesday centered around whether declined flows, and only three days of peak flow, would hurt the surrounding environment, flood plains and overall river health. A key request from the city would be that Northern Water have a plan in place for any unanticipated impacts the project has on the river.
“The bigger picture is we, Northern Colorado, have a choice on the direction we want to go,” council member Ross Cunniff said. “Forty years ago, I would have said it looked like the river was in decline. But Fort Collins made some choices … It’s really a remarkable story, and I appreciate the staff didn’t let that get lost.”