Ag’s reliable voices needed as Oct. 4 comment deadline for NISP approaches | TheFencePost.com

Ag’s reliable voices needed as Oct. 4 comment deadline for NISP approaches

Brad Wind
Northern Water general manager and Morgan County farmer

Wind

Sustaining our robust local agriculture industry while also developing water security measures to meet growing municipal and industrial demands are equally vital for Northern Colorado's future.

With the Northern Integrated Supply Project, we have an endeavor in the works that will help ensure the success of both efforts.

And it's my hope that as we approach the Oct. 4 public comment deadline regarding NISP's Final Environmental Impact Statement, the NISP participants and Northern Water staff can once again count on local producers and others from the ag industry to weigh in and assist us in another round of demonstrating support for the project.

Because of NISP's importance to the future of the region's farms and ranches, the project has received continued support over the years from the ag industry, and that has been crucial. Considering its size and scope, an endeavor like NISP requires advocacy from key voices in the region, and our local ag partners have made key contributions to the dialogue that has kept the project moving forward.

While the primary purpose of NISP is building two reservoirs to meet the future water demands of rapidly growing Northern Colorado communities, this project will also greatly benefit our local ag industry.

For starters, without the project, the communities participating in NISP will most likely be left to purchase more water from existing farms and ranches — needing to dry up over 64,000 acres of irrigated farmground to attain the amount of water that NISP would provide, according to the NISP FEIS.

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Additionally, as part of NISP, Northern Water and the participating communities are engaging with willing farmers and ranchers, to utilize a portion of their senior water rights in a series of exchanges called the South Platte Water Conservation Project. This will help ensure year in and year out that the water providers participating in NISP receive the yield from the project to which they're entitled. In return, the NISP participants will compensate any shareholders whose water rights are utilized in these exchanges. This aspect of the project is designed to serve as a win-win for ag producers, in that they'll maintain total ownership of their water rights, water will continue flowing to their farms and ranches, and the compensation from the participants will enhance the long-term viability of those operations.

Northern Water was created more than 80 years ago almost exclusively to provide water for farmers and ranchers. While rapid growth in Northern Colorado has altered our operations since 1937, our commitment to preserving the region's ag industry — which employs thousands of local residents and feeds even more — remains fully intact. Our local farms and ranches provide a wealth of economic and quality-of-life benefits to Northern Colorado, and it's critical that we find innovative solutions — like NISP — to keep more acres in production for the long haul.

For those interested in submitting comments, there are instructions on how to do so — along with more in-depth details about the project — on the NISP website's homepage at http://www.gladereservoir.org.

And thanks again to the many of you who have stood behind this project for all these years. ❖